Beachwood City Schools

Beachwood City Schools News Article

Science of Reading: Q & A with Ms. Mayer

May 18, 2023

The science of reading has captured headlines in recent months as schools across the nation aim to help all students become successful decoders and fluent readers. The science of reading is the body of knowledge on how children learn to read and how the reading process works in the brain. This insight allows teachers to target specific skills and provide early interventions as needed. Beachwood Schools is taking a proactive approach to incorporating the science of reading and evidence-based instructional practices into its rigorous literacy programming. Reading specialist Michelle Mayer explains how teachers support the literacy development of our earliest learners.

In what ways has K-2 literacy programming been expanded at Bryden Elementary? 
Ms. Mayer: We have added a systematic, evidence based, science of reading aligned program called Fundations. This program is for all Bryden students and focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics-word study, high-frequency word study, fluency, vocabulary, handwriting, and spelling. Fundations is used in addition to our materials for our literature-based language arts program to aid in the teaching of comprehension skills.

What are some of the proactive steps Bryden has taken to support the science of reading? 
Ms. Mayer: We have had many discussions about the importance of expanding our resources to include explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics,and fluency. All teachers have undergone extensive training in the science of reading components as well as training to better understand teaching children with dyslexia and other reading and writing challenges. We adopted Fundations for both whole class instruction and small group intervention.

How does the Fundations program support the science of reading? 
Ms. Mayer: It is an evidence-based, highly structured, multi-sensory approach that systematically teaches reading and spelling patterns. Through repetition, modeling, and structure, it takes an "I do, we do, you do approach" with the teacher modeling first, then supporting students as they try the new skills with the teacher. Finally, the teacher observes and assesses students while they try the skill on their own. Throughout the instruction, review concepts are woven in and continued to be practiced as new concepts are introduced. 

What other resources are being used to support literacy instruction at Bryden? 
Ms. Mayer: While decoding and spelling are extremely important for our earliest learners, so is rich literature. Strengthening comprehension and building schema and vocabulary is achieved through our  diverse and multi-leveled classroom libraries. Each teacher provides "just right" books for Bryden students at all different reading levels. We want to meet ALL students right where they are and challenge them to learn, grow and progress.

In what ways does Bryden provide customized literacy instruction based on students’ individual needs? 
Ms. Mayer: Bryden teachers are highly skilled at getting to know each individual student and their specific needs and strengths. Once we learn this about a student, we use this knowledge to inform our instruction. As the reading specialist, I am in and out of classrooms all day long. I see teachers incorporating whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one instruction all day, every day.  We are fortunate to have evidence based tools and materials to aid in this instruction.

For more information about the science of reading, please visit the Ohio Department of Education’s literacy information page.

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