Researching education: Five further readings on teaching reading

Welcome to this month's edition of Researching education: Five further readings. In this series, we take a look at some further readings available on a particular topic, including open access research papers from various online databases, and Teacher archive content you might not have come across yet.

Learning to read is a complex task for children, and there are many evidence-based approaches to teaching children to read. So, how do children learn to read? How can teachers be most successful in reading instruction? In this edition of five further readings, we share five resources which seek to answer these questions.

  1. Effective reading instruction in the early years of school. This literature review from the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) summarises how five key components of effective reading practices (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension) should be taught in the classroom and why each component is important. ‘All these elements are essential for the early stages of literacy learning. To be most successful, these skills must be taught explicitly, sequentially and systematically,’ the authors write. ‘All teachers need to be equipped with an understanding of evidence-based reading instruction and the ability to implement this in the classroom.’
  2. The Way of Words’: Understanding and Teaching Reading in Primary Classrooms. How should reading be defined? How do children learn to read? Professor Robyn Ewing from the University of Sydney addresses these questions in this article in the Journal of Professional Learning. Suggesting that one approach will suit every single child is unhelpful, she writes, sharing that the complexities of what it means to read, and the challenges some children face when learning to read, need to be understood.
  3. Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition from Novice to Expert. In this paper, Professor Anne Castles and co-authors examine the gap between the state of research knowledge about learning to read and the state of public understanding. ‘We call for an end to the reading wars and recommend an agenda for instruction and research in reading acquisition that is balanced, developmentally informed, and based on a deep understanding of how language and writing systems work,’ they write.
  4. Improving literacy in upper primary. Focusing now on older students, this guidance report from Evidence for Learning is targeted towards teachers in upper primary school and outlines recommendations for effective teaching of literacy. ‘This guide is aimed primarily at subject leaders, principals, and other staff with responsibility for leading improvements in literacy teaching. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to literacy recommendations but represents eight ‘lever points’ where there is useful evidence about literacy teaching that schools can use to make a significant difference to students’ learning,’ the report reads.
  5. Reading Instruction Evidence Guide Map. AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) has developed this comprehensive evidence guide map on reading instruction. ‘It is important to consider reading instruction both from a broader perspective that integrates all of the strands and also through a focus on specific strands that provide deeper insights about each of the aspects of reading instruction,’ the guide reads. ‘The evidence map of the literature is provided to illustrate some of the different kinds of evidence that can be used to inform early reading instruction.’

Some of the resources featured in this article can be found through Cunningham Library Catalogue and EdResearch Online. At the links below, you can search for more resources on the topic of teaching reading in these two online databases.

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