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Reading’s Fab Five

Better known as The Five Components of Reading, the Fab Five are the crucial instruments that research has shown kids need in order to become successful readers. Research is great . . . but are these really so important and are they necessary? My answer to both questions is a big resounding YES! Each one is important and they are absolutely necessary to teach so that your kids not only build a strong foundation of skills, but also continue to develop them in order to become accomplished readers that go on to do well in other subject areas.

Before I break down each of the Fab Five, it’s important to note that these components are not “steps to reading”. They are not meant to be introduced one at a time and mastered before moving on to the other. While it’s true that children will have to learn parts of some components before they can work on others, they are meant to work together throughout the process of learning to read. This means that you will be working on different aspects of the five components as your child’s skills grow. For example: Your child may need to work on some phonemic awareness skills before he/she can work on phonics. Yet another child can be working on vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension all at once in the same story. It may sound confusing at first, but you’ll get the hang of it once you see examples in the teaching methods and lesson ideas!

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Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Phonemic Awareness

What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness (PA) is the ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in our language. Basically that means that kids should be able to hear, put together, and separate the sounds in spoken words.

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Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Phonics

You may have memories of learning phonics in school and being continuously drilled on letter sounds and spelling rules until you thought you would explode. Or you may be a product of whole language instruction (like me) and have very little knowledge of the intricate workings of our written language – you know how to read and write, but you’re not sure how it all works. It just depends on when and where you went to school. So which way is best? Recent research has shown that along with phonemic awareness instruction, both phonics and whole language instruction is best. You can read more about the differences between the two and why they should work together in this article. Either way, phonics instruction has come a long way since we were in school and there are ways to make it fun! So let’s get started on what you need to know to teach your child phonics.

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Articles Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Fluency

Fluency … the great bridge. Fluency acts as the bridge between decoding words and comprehending what they mean. But what does fluency mean? Here’s the National Reading Panel’s official definition:

Fluency: The ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression.

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Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Vocabulary

Words, words, words! The more words your child knows, the better reader he or she will become. The great news is that you don’t have to wait until your child is of reading age to start building the vocabulary they will need in order to be great readers. This is because there are four different kinds of vocabulary that we use in our lives: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Studies show that children with larger listening and speaking vocabularies experience greater comprehension, therefore success as readers than children with a more limited listening and speaking word bank. This is because a child can know the meanings of thousands of words without having to know what they look like or how to spell them. Once they know the meaning of a word or a concept, they can just attach that knowledge to the visual representations (the words) later on as they are exposed to them in reading and writing. This large listening/speaking word bank helps them be more efficient readers because they don’t have to spend time learning to read the word and the meaning, they just have to learn to attach a known meaning to a new word.

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Articles Must Reads Research Says

I’m No Rocket Scientist . . . Yet

Unless you’re like my sister (an aerospace engineer at NASA), chances are that you are not a rocket scientist. Yet according to Louisa Moats, one of the leading researchers on the process of learning to read, teaching reading is rocket science. Huh? How is teaching a child the ABC’s and picture books rocket science?

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Articles Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Comprehension

Comprehension is THE ultimate goal of reading! Everything we teach our kids in reading is so that they will end up having comprehension, or an understanding of what they read. We spend so much time learning how to read just to get to the point where we can read to learn. Comprehension = knowledge. But just because comprehension is our ultimate goal doesn’t mean that you need to wait till your kids are older or have “mastered” everything else in reading before you teach it.