Helpful Tips to Read
Running head: HOW THE BRAIN LEARNS
TO READ
Tara M. McKean
June 8, 2011
1
3 Essential Questions on How the
Human Brain Learns to Read
“What must a child be able to do in order to read
effectively?”
“What role does working memory play in
learning to read?”
“What happens in the brain when a child goes
from a non-reader to a novice reader, and finally
to a skilled reader?”
(Sousa, 2005, p. 31)
2
Essential Question #1:
“What must a child be
able to do in order to
read effectively?”
3
“Reading is NOT a Natural
Ability”
“Speaking is a normal,
genetically-hardwired capability;
reading is not” (Sousa, p. 32).
4
“…Pruning of the phonemes [start to
occur] by [the age of one], the neural
networks focus on the sounds of the
language being spoken in the infant’s
environment (Beatty, 2001)” (Sousa,
2005, p. 16).
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Early Stages of Reading
(Clipart for Free, 2008)
6
Learning to Read Starts with…
Phonemes
(sounds)
Alphabetic
Principle
New Words
Rhymes
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Phonological and Phonemic
Awareness
 An example of phonological awareness, “the
word carpet has two syllables, each one
composed of three phonemes” (Sousa, 2005,
p. 35).
car/pet
 Phonemic awareness like in the word mat
has three phonemes.
/m/-/ă/-/t/
8
Phonemic Awareness and Learning
to Read
p
i
g
9
Sounds to Letters
(Phonemes to Graphemes)
a
apple
ă
10
Alphabetic Principle
 This concept is a little difficult for children to
learn due to a few problems.
 “The letters of the alphabet are abstract and
unfamiliar to the new reader, and the sounds
they represent are not natural segments of
speech” (Sousa, 2005, p. 36).
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Letters to Words
+
“Decoding starts with
learning the letters of
the alphabet and the
basic sounds they
represent” (Sousa,
2005, p. 37).
+
=
(Education Week, 2009)
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Morphemes
 What are morphemes and
morphology?
 Morphological and Phonemic
Awareness
13
“Is Spelling Crucial to Reading?”
“Success in reading
does not automatically
result in success in
spelling”
(Sousa,
2005, p. 41).
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Essential Question #2:
“What
role
does
working memory play
in learning to read?”
15
Phases of Vocabulary Growth
PreAlphabetical
Phase
Partial
Alphabetic
Phase
Full Alphabetic
Phase
Vocabulary
Growth (Mental
Lexicon)
Consolidated
Alphabetic
Phase
16
Reading Comprehension
The number of words in a sentence
may affect one’s ability to comprehend
the sentence and its meaning.
17
Immediate Memory
“Look. There goes a squirrel!”
“What were we talking about?”
18
Working Memory
During the first 5 to 10 minutes of reading,
children need to be fully focused on what
they are reading and “make connections” in
order for the information to be retained.
19
Essential Question #3:
What happens in the brain
when a child goes from
a…
Skilled
Novice
reader
Reader?
Nonreader
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Using Schema Theory in Teaching and
Learning
Picture Walk
Read similar themed
books!
KWL
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At Home Strategies to Improve
Your Child’s Spoken Language
Recommended
for at least 20
minutes daily!
Speak with and
listen to your
child
Read with your
child every day!
Sing songs or
poems
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Strategy 1: Provide opportunities
for speaking and listening
 Provide an environment that is “rich” in literature!
 Use technology: www.storylineonline.net &
http://www.wordworld.com/parentsteachers.php
are excellent websites!
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(Education Week, 2009)
Strategy 2: Read with Your Child!
 Listen to Reading- “We hear examples of good
literature and fluent reading. We learn more words,
thus expanding our vocabulary and becoming better
readers” (Boushey & Moser, 2006, p. 11).
 Read alouds are beneficial to all children to help
provide “rich” language experiences (Cobb & Kallus,
2011).
 Read to Someone- “Reading to someone allows for
more time to practice strategies, helping you work on
fluency and expression, check for understanding,
hear your own voice, and share in the learning
community” (Boushey & Moser, 2006, p. 11).
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Strategy 3: Sing Songs, Lullabies
or Poems
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
(Lullabies, 1997)
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References
Boushey, G. & Moser, J. (2006) the daily 5:
Fostering Literacy Independence in the
Elementary Grades. Portland: Stenhouse
Publishers, 2006.
Clipart For Free. Retrieved from http://clipartfor-free.blogspot.com/2008/08/dora-explorerclipart.html
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References
Cobb, J. B. and Kallus, M. K. (2011). Historical,
Theoretical, and Sociological Foundations of
Reading in the United States. Boston: Pearson.
[Electronic version]
Education Week. (2009). Retrieved
from http://www.wordworld.com/
02_25_09_EducationWeek.pdf
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References
Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (n.d.). Providing a
literacy rich home environment.
http://www.rif.org/us/literacyresources/articles/providing-a-literacy-richhome-environment.htm
Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (1997). Leading
to Reading.
http://www.rif.org/kids/leadingtoreading/en/babi
es-toddlers/lullabies/twinkle-twinkle-littlestar.htm
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References
Sousa, D. A. (2005). How the brain learns to
read. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
[Electronic version]
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How the Brain Learns to Read