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Science of Reading: The Podcast
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Science of Reading: The Podcast

Author: Amplify Education

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Science of Reading: The Podcast will deliver the latest insights from researchers and practitioners in early reading. Via a conversational approach, each episode explores a timely topic related to the science of reading.

113 Episodes
With a background as a classroom teacher, a master's in educational neuroscience, and a doctorate in special education, Dr. Neena Saha has seen all facets of education. In her work, she noticed a gap in the research-to-practice workflow for early literacy and dedicated herself to streamlining the process of finding and disseminating the best educational research for educators. Together, Susan Lambert and Neena discuss the need for reading researchers to work together and collaborate in a more focused and concerted group effort, the challenges of implementation, and how educators can best keep up with research that often feels overwhelming.Show notes:Listen: Our recent episode with Claude GoldenbergRead: Neena’s monthly reading research updateWatch: Neena’s July video about a Bayesian network meta-analysisWatch: Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Bud RoseWebsite: Center for Research Use in EducationRead: “Survey of Evidence in Education for Schools Descriptive Report”Read: “The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect” by Judea PearlRead: Reading Research Recap—If you want to start receiving monthly notifications for this series, please register or sign in to your Lexile & Quantile Hub account and join the Reading Research mailing list.Quotes:"What I did was focus really on dissemination, right? Getting rid of that hurdle of, you know, there's so many journals out there." —Dr. Neena Saha"You have to look at the full body, you're like cherry picking stuff if you're going to social media and the person with the biggest megaphone wins or whoever has the most interesting way of presenting it." —Dr. Neena Saha"We need a more concerted effort. There needs to be a bunch of researchers that come together and hash it out. It can't just be single ones here and there." —Dr. Neena Saha"Teachers or educators out there right now, when you're feeling overwhelmed and you can't figure out how to find the evidence, or some evidence, guess what? We're affirming for you that there's no easy way to do it...this is more of a systemic problem." —Dr. Neena Saha"It's not enough to do the science. You have to make sure it gets out there." —Dr. Neena Saha
Growing up, Malcolm Mitchell considered reading and academics as a bare minimum means to get to play football. While his journey with football led to playing in the NFL, the work he is most proud of today is his literacy work and his own journey of learning to love reading, advocating for literacy, and writing children's books. In this conversation with Susan Lambert at the 2023 Plain Talk Conference—where Malcolm was the keynote speaker—Malcolm dives into his own process of teaching himself to become a proficient reader at the age of 19. Through the lens of his own struggles and triumphs, Malcolm shares a powerful testimony to the importance of cultural connection, access to books, community building, and understanding the true "why" behind reading to get students motivated to read.Show notes:Website: Share The Magic Foundation ( Malcolm’s 2019 TEDxUGA talkRead with Malcolm's InstagramRead with Malcolm's TwitterRead with Malcolm's LinkedInQuotes:"I saw that [reading] as the thing that would allow me to become the best version of myself." —Malcolm Mitchell"Reading is the most self empowering tool a person could possess." —Malcolm Mitchell"I knew that I needed to surround myself with a group of readers to help foster an even greater love or deeper connection." —Malcolm Mitchell"It's not whether people want to do something or not. It's whether they understand the value of it." —Malcolm Mitchell"Our challenge is to create an atmosphere that hopefully makes students willing to learn. And that opens the door for a teacher to do what they do best." –Malcolm Mitchell"High school is probably the most confusing place because the things that you need to do most to position yourself for a fruitful life are the things that are ridiculed" —Malcolm Mitchell
Here to continue our discussion on dyslexia from earlier episodes in the season is an all-time leading expert on the topic: Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Co-founder and Co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. This literacy legend shares how she came to study dyslexia, the story of her seminal Connecticut Longitudinal Study, and all she's learned from her years of dyslexia research. Shaywitz will cover some of the biggest myths about dyslexia and also explain the "sea of strengths" possessed by people with dyslexia.Show notes:Book: Overcoming DyslexiaCoursera: Overcoming Dyslexia York Times story: The Couple Who Helped Decode DyslexiaYale Center for Dyslexia: websiteQuotes:"It's so important to screen, to learn early that you may be at risk and then to follow up with more testing that may confirm you're dyslexic. When you have something, but it doesn't have a name, it leads to anxiety." —Dr. Sally Shaywitz"There are so many people who are slow readers who are brilliant thinkers. That's our 'sea of strengths' model." —Dr. Sally Shaywitz"We are so genetically driven to speak ... but we're not genetically driven to read." —Dr. Sally Shaywitz
When it comes to literacy education and cross-domain learning, it’s critical to understand the relationship between reading and writing. In this episode, Susan talks to Steve Graham all about writing—and how it can be used to strengthen literacy. Graham served as chair of the What Works Clearinghouse Practice Guides on elementary and secondary writing, and is the current Regents and Warner Professor at Arizona State University. Together, he and Susan discuss ways to support student writing, hindrances to writing development, the importance of teaching handwriting skills, and why writing is essential to any literacy program.Show Notes: What Works Clearinghouse: “Teaching Elementary School Students To Be Effective Writers”Meta-analysis: “The Effects of Writing on Learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis”Book: Handbook of Writing ResearchArizona State University: ProfileQuotes:“Our development as writers might be something that you can think of as open-ended…it can expand ever outward.” —Steve Graham“Handwriting gets better, spelling gets better…students become better at constructing sentences in their writing. They tend to generate more content, and the quality of their writing may improve as well.” —Steve Graham“Any kid who has trouble with handwriting [or] spelling usually dislikes writing much more than their peers that do not have those difficulties, and they typically don't produce as much. And what they produce usually is just not as coherent or well connected.” —Steve Graham“What we see with exceptional teachers is they have their kids write. And at least through grades one to six, when students write, the quality of their writing gets better and their reading comprehension gets better.” —Steve Graham“Kids need to write, they need to write for a variety of purposes. And they also need to write for real reasons, for real audiences.” —Steve Graham“We want to create a community in which kids can thrive as writers and take risks.” —Steve Graham“We want to make sure that we're using reading and writing for the functional purposes of learning, because they make a huge difference. They're really the basic building blocks around which we acquire and understand information.” —Steve Graham
When we surveyed listeners, more than half of respondents said they wanted more conversations about teaching students with dyslexia! With that in mind, in this episode Susan is joined by Dr. Tim Odegard from Middle Tennessee State University. Odegard is a professor of psychology and holds the Katherine Davis Murfree Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies. As someone with dyslexia himself, Odegard brings a unique perspective to this discussion where they debunk the idea of "the gift of dyslexia," discuss neurodiversity and talk about what needs to be done to change the system.Show notes:Dr. Tim Odegard’s Twitter: @OdegardTimTennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of DyslexiaE-books from the Center for Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State UniversityQuotes:“It's not easy, but life isn't easy and it's not fair and you don't get to write the rules. But how you play the game and how you persist is what defines you as a human being.” —Tim Odegard“Sure. You can turn lemons into lemonade, but all they're saying ism that it's a gift because you find a way to persevere, and any hardship could be that way, but when you're in the thick of it and you're actually living it, and you're just trying to get the ability to do your work and not feel like you're stupid. That's not a gift.” —Tim Odegard“We need to change the dialogue and say, this is about what's right for all kids. And this isn't about just dyslexia, that’s the byproduct of doing what's right for all children.” —Tim Odegard
Susan interviews Danielle "Nell" Thompson, literacy multi-hyphenate and the creator of the Big Sky Literacy Summit. This August, the summit returns with a star-studded lineup of mentors, sages, teachers, and leaders, and in this episode, Nell shares how her own background—working with students in Alaska and Mississippi, among many other places—has helped shape this year's conference theme. She and Susan discuss the importance of mentorship in advancing evidence-based literacy practice and literacy instruction.Show notes:Website: Big Sky Literacy SummitTwitter: The Transformative Reading Teacher GroupDanielle Thompson's Twitter:  @Nelliet11Danielle Thompsons's LinkedIn: @Danielle Nell ThompsonBook: From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of LifeQuote:I was feeling like the numbers were too great and that the systems were broken. … If I could build better systems, I could also support the educators' success within those systems." —Dr. Danielle "Nell" Thompson
After three years and more than 3 million downloads, Science of Reading: The Podcast recently conducted its first ever taping in front of a live audience. The recording took place on March 9, 2023, in New Orleans at the Plain Talk About Literacy and Learning conference. Susan Lambert was joined by none other than Kareem Weaver, NAACP activist, whose first appearance on this podcast remains an all-time favorite among listeners. This time around, Kareem gave Susan a behind-the-scenes look at his involvement with the new film: The Right to Read. Kareem also offered insights into his latest work with NAACP. Plus, Kareem addressed the topic of accountability: can we make the changes we need to make when it comes to literacy instruction without holding some people accountable?Show notes:More info on The Right to Read filmTrailer: The Right to Read Kareem Weaver on TwitterFULCRUM websiteKareem Weaver’s first appearance on “Science of Reading: The Podcast”Quotes:“You could look at it from every endeavor, every social sector. Literacy is at the core.” —Kareem Weaver“Hope it's not a strategy. It's great to have hope, but that can't be the strategy for our kids and our systems that serve 'em.” —Kareem Weaver“There has to be some accountability at a human level for people to open up and be willing to believe enough.” —Kareem Weaver“People often get so caught up in their own feelings and their own agenda and what they can't wait to do and they forget about the people they're supposed to be. Leadership starts with service.” —Kareem Weaver“Many of us have divested ourselves from our own values to accommodate the narratives and lies we've been told to calm the dissonance.” —Kareem Weaver“I believe in our potential to solve big problems if we're honest with each other and if we ask the right questions and push the right way.” —Kareem Weaver 
For the second episode in our new season focused on tackling the hard stuff, we're taking on a question that listeners have asked: how can we apply the Science of Reading in a Montessori setting? To help explore that question, we're joined by the three authors of the recent book Powerful Literacy in the Montessori Classroom: Aligning Reading Research and Practice. Listen to Dr. Susan Zoll, Dr. Natasha Feinberg, and Dr. Laura Saylor as they explore the shared qualities between the Science of Reading and Montessori approach. They share tips and guidance for literacy instruction both inside and outside a Montessori setting and end with an impassioned call to educators from all approaches to come together and learn from each other for the benefit of students everywhere.Show notes:Book: Powerful Literacy in the Montessori Classroom: Aligning Reading Research and Practice, by Susan Zoll, Natasha Feinberg, and Laura SaylorBook: Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching, by Anita Archer and Charles HughesQuotes:“Maria Montessori was a scientist first. She developed her methods based on science.” —Laura Saylor“Reading is the human rights issue of our era in education and we want all children to be successful.”—Susan Zoll“I encourage everyone, get together with your colleagues, talk about the different pedagogy, talk about the different strategies that are out there, because that is what is going to help us become better in the field of education.”— Natasha Feinberg“For those trained in both Science of Reading and Montessori education, there were clear and undeniable parallels between them.”—Susan Zoll“Teachers want students to be good readers. That is what is underlying our instruction— whether we are Montessori, whether we're teaching in a public school.”—Natasha Feinberg“If you're a Montessori and continue to use your Montessori language, absolutely follow your philosophy and the pedagogy, but also begin to engage with this language of research because it can elevate the conversation and it can expand our reach into the greater world of education.”—Susan Zoll“Come see what we do and know that we're willing to share.” —Laura Saylor“We all want children to have access to wonderful reading instruction. We all want children to have the opportunities and life that each of them deserves. And if we are not working together and we're busy labeling and [in a] silo then we really aren't going to have the collective impact we might have otherwise.” —Laura Saylor
Claude “Skeptic” Goldenberg, professor of Education at Stanford, rejoins Susan Lambert to kick off season seven of this Science of Reading podcast—all centered around “tackling the hard stuff.” In this week’s episode, Claude and Susan take on the topic of what is actually true when it comes to the Science of Reading and how to navigate the noise to find it! Together they discuss the opportunities and challenges of social media, the importance of limitations of foundational skills, and striving to maintain hope even when the journey towards success gets overwhelming.Show notes: Tim Shanahan’s blogThe New England Journal of Medicine: “Physicians Spreading Misinformation on Social Media — Do Right and Wrong Answers Still Exist in Medicine?”Bloom’s Taxonomy“Reading Wars, Reading Science, and English Learners,” by Claude Goldenberg“Stages of Reading Development,” by Jeanne S. Chall“Scientific Basis of the Art of Teaching,” by N.L. Gage Quotes:"I wish there were a simple solution, but I don't really think there is."—Claude Goldenberg"It's really gonna take leadership and clear communication and less one-sidedness by people who are influential thought leaders."—Claude Goldenberg"We know that coaching and professional development and training and observations, we know all those things are important, but it's very important to be efficient because we don't have enough time."—Claude Goldenberg"We've gotta be really scrupulous and careful about what we mandate and require and expect of teachers and provide them with the knowledge, information, and training that is really important."—Claude Goldenberg"You can think of literacy as a structure, as something that gets constructed in your mind."—Claude Goldenberg"If all you have is a foundation, you don't have much."—Claude Goldenberg"It's really about the kids. I mean, it's really about the students, particularly those kids who are so dependent on schools because they don't have the resources and the opportunities and the affordances at home and in their communities."—Claude Goldenberg"There are millions of those kids. They're so deeply dependent on the schools to do the right thing. We really owe it to them to get it right."—Claude Goldenberg"We owe it to the teachers, we owe it to the kids, we owe it to the communities. That's my hope, that people will see the responsibility that we bear, to acknowledge the uncertainties, to acknowledge that we don't know everything."—Claude Goldenberg
Learning is at the center of everything in education, so understanding how the human brain processes, retains, and retrieves new information is essential to student growth. In this special crossover episode, Susan joins forces with fellow Amplify podcast hosts Eric Cross from Science Connections, and Dan Meyer and Bethany Lockhart Johnson from Math Teacher Lounge, to discuss what learning really means across subjects. Susan is also joined by Peter C. Brown, author of the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, to dive into the cognitive science behind how our brains learn and ways you can apply that research in your classroom right now!Show notes: Amplify podcast hubPodcast: Science of Reading: The PodcastPodcast: Math Teacher LoungePodcast: Science ConnectionsBook: “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning,” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III,, Mark A. McDanielWebsite: Retrieval PracticeQuotes: “As much as I'm into the science of learning, I really wanna be into, like, the humility of teaching” —Dan Meyer“Learning is this fluid thing. It's social, it's dynamic, it's experiential. It is the process of acquiring knowledge and understanding, and developing these behavioral skills, but it's also embedded in this bigger context of your background, your identity.” —Eric Cross“For myself as an educator, I am just a lily pad as [students] hop across the pond, but I want to be the best lily pad possible. I want to give them the strongest surface. I want to give them the most security that I can.” —Eric Cross“There's new ways to solve the problem. There's new ways to look at the problem. There's new ways to take apart the problem and put it back together. And for me, that's when learning happens.” —Bethany Lockhart Johnson“The scientists have discovered that for something to be learned and retained, you need to help the brain do that by practicing, retrieving it from memory, and practicing explaining it in your own words to somebody else asking.” —Peter C. Brown“There's really great evidence that we can then teach our students or maybe even ourselves how to be a better learner.” —Susan Lambert“Joy in the classroom is a much better context for learning than anxiety.” —Susan Lambert
Back in 2019, Natalie Wexler joined Susan Lambert as the very first guest on Science of Reading: The Podcast. Now—more than three years and three million downloads later—Science of Reading: The Podcast welcomes Natalie back on the show. She and Susan discuss what she's seen in the 3+ years since releasing her groundbreaking book The Knowledge Gap and delve into the importance of managing cognitive load, building long-term memory, writing, and the broader science of literacy. Lastly, Natalie shares what she hopes to see in the education headlines in the not-so-distant future. Show notes:Our first episode with Natalie Wexler, The Knowledge GapThe Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America's Broken Education System—And How to Fix It , by Natalie WexlerBloom's TaxonomyOne Sentence At A Time, by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie WexlerThe Writing Revolution websiteKnowledge Matters CampaignStatement from Knowledge Matters CampaignQuotes:“I'm a little worried that Science of Reading, narrowly defined, isn’t encompassing everything we need to do. And people are getting the idea that if they just add more phonics to what they're already doing, they'll have solved the problem.” —Natalie Wexler“Even if we do a great job on that foundational skills side of things, if we are not also changing current standard practice with regard to comprehension. If we don't start building kids' academic knowledge and vocabulary early, we are gonna find, at higher grade levels, kids are gonna be able to decode complex text, but they may not be able to understand it.” —Natalie Wexler“There are serious problems with how we have been approaching decoding instruction. There are equally serious problems with how we've been approaching comprehension instruction, and that's the message that I think is not getting out.” —Natalie Wexler“You can't get to the top without going through the bottom. You can't think critically about a topic that you don't have understanding or knowledge of, it's just not going to work.” —Natalie Wexler“Here's the catch about writing: It's hugely important. It can help cement knowledge and long-term memory, and deepen knowledge.” —Natalie Wexler“Even if you as a teacher have doubts about the curriculum. It's really important to give it your best shot and approach it with enthusiasm.” —Natalie Wexler“It's great to focus attention on problems with phonics instruction, but we also need to bring attention to problems with comprehension instruction and the failure to build a kind of knowledge that fuels comprehension.” —Natalie Wexler“What has amazed me is how many teachers and educators have nevertheless really embraced this message. And I think that really speaks to how much they care about their students. Change is hard, but they are undertaking it daily.” —Natalie Wexler 
Todd Collins went from education outsider to literacy expert when he joined his local school board after a career in finance and technology. When Todd saw the literacy assessment number, his data-driven mind said "this isn't good enough" and got to work. Todd went on to organize the California Reading Coalition, a movement of educators, advocates, parents, and policymakers committed to improving reading instruction and outcomes for California's six million students. In this episode, he joins Susan Lambert to discuss what it really takes to make effective change; the importance of clear, ambitious goals and strong leadership in schools; and which numbers within literacy data are most important to focus on.Show notes: California Reading Coalition California Reading Report CardCalifornia Reading Coalition on TwitterCalifornia Reading Coalition on FacebookQuotes:“We have to help everybody kind of collectively align our voices and help people who wanna find out more about this, find out more about it.” —Todd Collins“If the pieces of the system aren't all working together, then you just don't achieve sustained change.” —Todd Collins“Leaders have a critical function. They communicate to everybody in a state or in an organization what's important. You don't have to tell 'em what to do, but you need to tell 'em what the goal is.” —Todd Collins“Teachers aren't the problem. Teachers are the solution.” —Todd Collins“We simply can't call ourselves a great school district unless we get great results for our most challenged and least resourced students.” —Todd Collins“It's not a new thing to be concerned about the low achievement among low-income students but it's a relatively new thing to do something about it.” —Todd Collins
While working with students, one educator came to a realization that put her on a path to fascinating research in the Science of Reading. In this episode, Jasmine Rogers—manager and coach with the In Schools program at the DC Reading Clinic and an early literacy intervention lead at American University—shares her story and delves into her research on dialects and best practices for structured literacy instruction. She discusses Black language and how it connects with the language comprehension strand of Scarborough's Reading Rope. Jasmine also offers recommendations for classroom teachers who have bidialectal students.Show notes:DC Reading ClinicS1-22: Success using the Science of Reading: Mary ClaymanJasmine Rogers - Linkedin S4-07: Linguistic Variety and Dialects: Difference, not error: Julie Washington“Teaching Reading to African American Children,” by Julie A. Washington and Mark S. Seidenberg“Linguistic Justice: Black Language, Literacy, Identity, and Pedagogy,” by April Baker-Bell“An Informed Lens on African American English,” by Megan-Brette Hamilton“Multilingualism and Codeswitching in Education,” by Nkonko M. KamwangamaluQuotes:“As a teacher, a Black woman, who speaks Black English, who knows the language, who is very well versed in structured literacy, if I overlooked this, if that caught me off guard a little bit, then that means that could potentially catch someone else off guard.” —Jasmine Rogers“With language comprehension, and considering in your native language, there may be a word that doesn’t necessarily match up with a language that you are learning in the classroom. So you have to then use your incredible cognitive skills that speak two completely different codes, comprehend what is happening, and then tie that back into, of course, the Rope to become a fluent reader.” —Jasmine Rogers“I consider Black English to be a very complex and complicated language…but I think typically in society it has been viewed very negatively. You can see in the media and in research where people have talked about it and used negative connotations. And I think those beliefs from society have seeped into the classroom.” —Jasmine Rogers“A strength of children that are bidialectal is the similar strength to students that are bilingual—they have an ability to take language that is different from theirs and translate it. That right there is an asset.” —Jasmine Rogers“The languages that we speak and bring from home also are not wrong. They’re simply different. And we’re gonna work together so that we take what we know differently and come together with a common language so that we’re communicating with one another.” —Jasmine Rogers“We have got to give our students access to this code so that they can become literate and run our society one day.” —Jasmine Rogers
Throughout this season, we've explored different tiers of the education system. In this episode, we look at the role higher education plays in equipping teachers with the right training and tools. Our guest Donna Hejtmanek, a retired special education teacher and reading specialist, shares her disappointing first-hand experience of going back to school at the age of 58—an experience that made her realize many universities weren't training educators in the Science of Reading. Donna tells Susan the story of how she came to create the incredibly popular Facebook group Science of Reading–What I Should Have Learned in College, and discusses what it will take to change higher education.Additional resources:Facebook group: Science of Reading—What I Should Have Learned in CollegeStephanie Stollar’s group Stronger Together: The Alliance for Reading Science in Higher EducationFacebook group: Training Reading Rocket ScientistsFacebook group: Science of Reading for Administrators—What Teachers Want You to KnowFind Donna on Twitter.Find Donna on LinkedIn.Quotes:“The door's been cracked. It has to happen and it has to happen by having relationships with people. You just can’t walk in and just say, you know, this is the way it needs to be done. It's a slow process.” —Donna Hejtmanek“If you're trained in a certain way, you're only exposing yourself to those researchers doing those things and that type of information. And so you don't know other sources of information of other researchers and what else might be going on.” —Donna Hejtmanek“Learning the Science of Reading is not a, ‘You get it in one day.’ It's not like that. It's a journey and it takes time to assimilate everything you read and then turning that into a practice and shifting the thinking of millions of people.” —Donna Hejtmanek“You get better and better at it the longer you do it. So if we just stay stagnant and are closed-minded to new things that are out there, then we can't grow.” —Donna HejtmanekAnnouncing the 2023 Science of Reading Star Awards!The Science of Reading Star Awards are back to honor and celebrate another group of outstanding educators. Do you know someone who has empowered their students with the Science of Reading? Whether that someone is you or a colleague, nominate them to be the next star!
With Utah's recent passing of Senate Bill 127, a sweeping piece of literacy legislation, many are turning to the state as a model of what statewide implementation of the Science of Reading can look like. In this episode, Dr. Jennifer Throndsen, Director of Teaching and Learning at Utah State Board of Education, joins Susan to tell the story of how Senate Bill 127 came to be and how they are continuing to make changes to schools across Utah. Together, they discuss what the bill included, the opportunities and challenges the bill provides when it comes to implementation, and advice for other states looking to enact literacy legislation. Throndsen also discusses her experience as a teacher and her journey with the Science of Reading.Additional resources:Utah’s S.B. 127 Early Literacy Outcomes ImprovementWestern States Take Aim at Early Literacy During 2022 Legislative Sessions (The Council of State Governments West)Quotes:"Our students are the state's greatest asset, and we need to invest in them with all the energy and knowledge we have to do our best to serve them with urgency, compassion, and high expectations." —Jennifer Throndsen"If kids can't read, that really keeps them from accessing other content areas like science, social studies, and being able to engage in story problems in mathematics." —Jennifer Throndsen"Being able to read is today's civil right's movement." —Jennifer Throndsen"With requirements comes resistance. No matter how great the opportunity is." —Jennifer Throndsen
In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the smash hit foundational reading series The Reading League’s “Reading Buddies,” aimed at students in pre-K through third grade. Susan is joined by Andrea Dotto and Brendan Malafronte—artists, performers, and co-founders of children's story hour and media company Dusty & Dott—as well as "Reading Buddies" executive producer Toni Ann Walsh. Together, the four of them discuss how the show started and how Andrea and Brendan got up to speed on the Science of Reading, and share tips for educators and caregivers on how to make reading instruction fun for kids.Additional resources:YouTube ChannelWebsite: FacebookInstagramThe Reading League websiteDusty and Dott websiteQuotes:“Our mission is to educate educators on the Science of Reading because we believe that if educators have that knowledge, they can transform kids' lives.”  —Toni Ann Walsh“Little by little you can learn to read, you can do something hard and we can do it together.” —Andrea Dotto“As a storyteller, I can go on a stage and tell a story and know, ‘Oh, that song made somebody connect to a memory,’ or ‘These two hours, they got to escape whatever is bothering them at home.’ That escapism is special and magical. But with reading buddies you get escapism and then you also get impact.” —Andrea Dotto“God bless teachers. They're incredible. And we are here to help you continue to be incredible. We're here to give you tools to excite your students and just complement everything that you are doing.” —Brendan Malafronte
Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson, Deputy Chief of Curriculum and Instruction in the School District of Philadelphia, has played an integral role leading and sustaining a transition to the Science of Reading in the Philadelphia public school district. But making such a change across a large district is difficult. In this episode, Dr. Francis-Thompson (who goes by Dr. Ny) talks with Susan about Philadelphia’s experience. She also talks about her own experience learning about the Science of Reading, and offers tips to other district-level leaders and wisdom about providing all students with the liberation that comes through reading and leading—all with love at the center.Additional Resources:Dr. Ny’s LinkedIn profileFocused implementation: Doing less to do more with Dr. Doug Reeves—Podcast episode2021 The Philadelphia Citizen story: “A Better Way to Teach Reading” 2021 Chalkbeat Philadelphia story: “Just 32% of Philadelphia third graders read on grade level. Freedom Schools Literacy Academy could be a model to change that.”A 2017 Accountability Review Council report on Philadelphia: “Promoting the Science of Reading Instruction in Philadelphia Public Elementary Schools: Early Implementation Lessons”Video of Dr. Ny speaking: “Equity in Curriculum”Dr. Ny’s 2017 dissertation: “Beyond the Pink Sand: Case Studies of Experiences of Multi-Tier System of Supports Implementation in the Bermuda Public School System”Quotes:“I have never met a student that did not want to learn how to read or a family that did not understand the importance of their children knowing how to read.” —Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“We have to listen to our young people in order to be able to move with that sense of urgency.” —Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“Liberation is connected to our students being literate… In order for our students to truly be free, we [need to] understand the power that reading has in their future.”—Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“We have to remember who we are serving and why we are serving them.” —Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“A lot of times when you’re in a large system and you’re leading a large system, it can become very robotic-like a machine. You do this, you get this, you do this, you get this. But there’s a human aspect that if you have not considered that human aspect, you could very well end up in the same place that you’re trying to move away from.”—Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“And while it’s a five-year strategic plan, we do have a sense of urgency and I’m sure within that there are gonna be benchmarks and hundred-day plans and smaller plans to make sure that we are actually doubling down again on the things that truly matter, that are gonna lead, outcomes for our students here in the school district.”—Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson“If we’re only in the business of educating some students, then what are we really doing? It’s important to look at the students that are not benefitting and really identifying the things that work for that population of students rather than continuing with practices that aren’t meeting the needs of the students we’re serving.” —Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson
As the former chief academic officer at the Louisiana Department of Education, Rebecca Kockler made it her mission to empower districts to select higher quality materials. This involved a thorough and rigorous curriculum review, and allowing teachers to choose the program they wanted once they knew exactly what they were getting. This work built Kockler’s case for focusing on quality curricula as a vital part of student success. Using Kockler’s work in Louisiana as a case study, this episode shows why state governments should focus on logistics, procurement, and equipping educators with the information they need to make the best decision for their students.Additional Resources:Louisiana Department of Education’s instructional materials review Education Next: Louisiana Threads the Needle on Ed ReformBio on the the Advanced Education Research and Development Fund (AERDF) websiteUS News: A Compelling Case for CurriculumQuotes:“It was really our teachers who led so much of the charge to say, ‘No, this is what we want. We believe kids should be held to high expectations. We believe they're capable, we believe they deserve it.’”– Rebecca Kockler, Program Director of Reading Reimagined within AERDF, CEO and Founder of Illuminate Literacy, and former Assistant Superintendent of Academics at the Louisiana Department of Education
Mimi Stewart is a state senator from New Mexico and previously worked as a public school elementary special education teacher for thirty years, with an expertise in reading literacy. Her unique background has turned into a passion for and a history of championing educational policies as a legislator. This episode focuses on how state government and state legislation can work to improve literacy instruction. She takes us through the process of creating a piece of literacy legislation, New Mexico Senate Bill 398, which passed in 2019. Sen. Stewart also shares the latest on that bill and also talks about what she’s now focusing on from her place in the legislature—like changing that way we teach teachers from a university level.Additional Resources:New Mexico Senate Bill 398Mimi Stewart - TwitterPeople for Mimi Stewart - Facebook PageMimi Stewart - WebsiteAmerican Educator, Spring/Summer 1998National Conference of State Legislatures’ “No Time To Lose” ReportThe May Center for Learning - WebsiteQuote:“Think about how many young kids in school right now we are not reaching and that have that feeling that they're dumb and they can't get it. I had one kid say to me, Ms. Stewart, I think there's just a secret code. And I said to him, You are right. There is a secret code. It's called the alphabetic code, and you can learn that easily.” – Mimi Stewart, New Mexico State Senator, representing New Mexico’s District 17
Equal parts educational leader, educator, and life-long learner of reading science, Mitchell Brookins has leveraged his passion and dedication to affect change in the lives of the students and teachers he works with, as well as the many educators he has inspired online. In this episode, he opens up about the emotional journey he took—from realizing everything he’d been doing wasn’t working and that he’d never actually learned how to teach kids to read, to seeking out reading research and encountering the Science of Reading—a path that brought unparalleled transformation and success to his schools. Mitchell talks about how he is still learning  and keeping students at the forefront of what he does every day, ending on a powerful story of a student who changed his life forever.Additional Resources:The National Reading Panel Report: Practical Advice for TeachersMitchell Brookins - TwitterScanning Pens webinar: Learning to Read & How to Support Older LearnersFree Poster: Why are you thankful for literacy?Quotes: “My calling is so that children can one day stand on their own without scaffolds, that children will one day reap the benefits that literacy is liberty, that children will one day be able to teach someone else the power that only literacy can bring.” – Mitchell Brookins
Comments (3)

Krista Redmond

Can we have the links to her published articles references in the podcast?

Aug 3rd

Michelle Whalen Henderson

This podcast was outstanding!

Jan 20th

reza alipour

wow. it changed my whole process of learneng english

Mar 15th
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