If you have children in your home or classroom who can read with understanding at or above a first grade level, but either (a) cannot read silently; or (b) cannot read without moving their lips, some ways to address the behavior include:
Once they read silently without moving lips, teachers or parent-teachers can slowly start increasing text difficulty. We would anticipate that most students could learn to read silently with comprehension within a month or less at or above the level they currently read with understanding while moving their lips or reading aloud.
Recently we received a question about why it matters whether children move their lips when reading silently. We want to answer that question and broaden it slightly to also talk about why we only assess silent reading and not oral reading in our Williams Syndrome Reading Project. Let’s start with our premise: we strongly believe that the primary goal of reading instruction is to teach children to read silently with comprehension. However, our guess is that what many of your children have experienced at school is lots of reading aloud, often in turns with other children, or one-to-one with an adult. The values of oral reading in school is efficient assessment and behavior management. Adults can listen for fluency and identify patterns of error in decoding. They know whether children are doing what has been asked of them.
However, reading silently is the ultimate goal. The values are reading more fluently, with higher degrees of understanding, with less effort and greater enjoyment. Studies of school-aged children show that once they learn to read silently, they read approximately 40-45 words per minute faster than their oral reading. Think of how valuable that is in your own busy lives. In 10 minutes you can process 400-450 more words! Reading orally is selectively useful. For example, it’s nice to read aloud a poem or part of a newspaper article to share with someone else, to read aloud as a social experience with a younger child or aging adult, to provide access to information to someone who is blind. However, all of those experiences can also be managed with technology, and we can still engage in social closeness (as long as we are COVID-free).
Reading silently with comprehension is the skill that will serve your children best in life. They will be able to do that in libraries, coffee shops, car pools, classrooms, and any other place they choose.
So, back to the original question, if children read silently but move their lips, they are essentially “reading aloud silently.” Doing so is less efficient than silent reading, slowing their reading rate by up to 45 words per minute. When a child who can read with comprehension occasionally moves lips to read words aloud silently, it is often a sign of a text being too difficult. You and we do this still when we read complex directions like tax forms. If a child cannot read at any level silently without moving lips, assuming it was not a practice directly taught to the child, it usually just indicates the need for more practice, and perhaps some direct instruction in reading silently without moving lips.
The importance/significance is that the ability to read silently without moving lips will enable your children to reach higher levels of successful text reading over time and do so more effortlessly. In typically developing children, silent reading usually becomes the norm toward the middle to end of first grade. Remember, it’s hard to read silently when the materials are too hard, and for beginning level readers everything is challenging.
Tomorrow we will post strategies for assisting children in learning to read silently.
Free Online Literacy Sessions
The Anderson Reading Clinic at Appalachian State University is hosting free literacy sessions online for children in kindergarten through eighth-grade. This is not a research study, just an interactive and inclusive literacy opportunity. Here are some of the fun things planned for this summer:
VIRTUAL BOOK CLUBS FOR CHILDREN: These online book clubs will be led by Appstate Reading Education faculty and graduate students. These are free and open to all K-8th grade students. Sign-ups will be posted soon on the Anderson Reading Clinic Facebook page.
VIRTUAL DAILY LITERACY-CASTS: These free, interactive online literacy experiences will be led by Appstate Reading Education faculty and graduate students and will begin June 2, 2020. Participants will be led through interactive shared reading and writing experiences in a large group. Participants will also break off into smaller online break out sessions with Reading Education faculty and graduate students for more targeted practice with the concepts presented during the larger session. This will also allow the children to have more interaction with each other in smaller groups. The literacy casts will occur Monday-Thursday at 10:30 AM. We use a password protected Zoom link. If your child would like to participate, complete this Google form, and Tonya will send you the password.
If you would like to see some of the writing created by kids in previous literacy casts, check out the Anderson Reading Clinic website. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Tonya at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tonya will be in the literacy sessions and can answer questions related to the literacy casts. We hope to see some of you on June 2nd!
Emergent Literacy Resources Added
We believe that everyone can learn to read and write, but we also believe that for that to happen, everyone must be taught appropriately. That is, your children have to be taught in ways that make sense to them, allow them to feel success, and build on what they know. Emergent literacy describes all of the nonconventional understandings and behaviors children demonstrate before they become conventionally literate. Adam, a 10-year-old with Williams syndrome we worked with several years ago, wrote (at left), when asked about his interests, "Yo Gabba Gabba is my favorite tv show. I know all the songs." His writing is emergent. It has a few recognizable letters, some letter-like shapes, but we need the author to read it to us because it lacks sufficient convention.
We've linked three excellent free resources on emergent literacy in the resources page. They are modules created by the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies as part of the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment project focused on children with intellectual disabilities. The resources address emergent writing teaching principles and practices; shared reading as a way to build interaction, communication, and engagement; and predictable charts as a way to teach concepts about print and sight words through repetition with variety and focusing on children's interests.
Reading Assessments Update
At the WSA Convention in Baltimore and at the Michigan camp this summer, many families asked about getting a reading assessment to help determine how best to teach their children to read. Phone call and email follow-ups have been inquiring when the heck we're going to get started. Here is clarification and update info:
At the ATIA Conference in January, 2017, Robin Pegg encouraged a colleague and me to come to a wonderful camp in Michigan for teens with Williams Syndrome (WS). She wanted us to begin to explore how we might help these folks learn to read and write better. I was able to visit for a few days, conduct 11 informal reading assessments, and find out that, at least among those 11 teens and young adults, there were a wide variety of reading abilities and multiple learning sources of learning difficulty.
Sydney Shadrick, an undergraduate special education major at Appalachian State University, and I presented our understanding of those assessments and suggested teaching implications at the Williams Syndrome Conference in Baltimore this past summer. We also co-presented with Clancey Hopper, a brilliant young woman with Williams syndrome, about a series of interviews we conducted with her and her parents trying to figure out how she got to be such an excellent reader. At camp, Clancey had volunteered to help me try out my informal reading assessments and topped out in all areas.
Sydney and I returned to the camp for two weeks this past summer and used a standardized test battery with more than 30 children and adolescents to try to dig a little deeper into some of the reading challenges. We are analyzing that data at present.
In all of these experiences, Sydney and I have met parent after parent after teacher after speech-pathologist, who struggle in trying to help a child with WS learn to read. This website is being set up to try to more systematically address these questions. Among our plans for its use are:
Send us your questions, comments, suggestions, and we'll do what we can.
David, Sydney, Bronwyn and Tonya believe everyone can learn to read and write. We're doing our best to make that happen.