It is easy for professionals and for people who love a good deep-dive to get carried away in jargon that is specific and completely unrelatable to the general public. Even my husband (who is an English professor) giggled when I first said to him, "Well Barton is an OG approach and EBLI is Structured Linguistic Literacy."
"OG?" he asked, "you mean like, the original.... gangsta?"
"Oh... haha no, not at all! (although it kind of is?) OG stands for Orton-Gillingham - they drew a lot of attention to reading difficulties and designed a system to teach reading explicitly and systematically. The Barton program is based off that approach.
My husband's hilarious assumption that I meant "Original Gangsta" aside, I realize that I sometimes get talking about these things and forget that people don't know what they don't know - I mean - that's obvious, but unless you've spent hours and hours (or years) reading about reading difficulties and reading instruction, there may be some things with which you are unfamiliar.
So, let's look at some of the things I tend to spit out in a parent consultation.
First, "Science of Reading." This term is all the rage right now. We have to follow "The Science of Reading." Is this approach based on the "Science of Reading?" "That's not 'Science of Reading!'"
We've realized that our kids (and our society) have a literacy issue (like, a staggeringly high percentage of people are not literate enough to understand instructions for medication let alone make truly informed political decisions). Yet "Science of Reading" isn't the name of a solution. It isn't a protected or even really agreed upon term. There is a LOT of science (studies, research) that tells us how children learn to read and what the brain is doing when it reads. There is NOT a ton of clear cut research that actually compares specific curriculums, instructional techniques, or programs.
We know that children (some more than others) need explicit (detailed, clear), systematic (given with some kind of plan and sequence not just "if it comes up") instruction in order to learn to read. Text is just talk written down, but if you don't understand the "code," then you can't read. You may memorize some whole words. You may figure out some word parts and
try to put together meaning based on assembling things that look like many word parts, but this will only get you so far. If a child doesn't naturally pick up that each individual sound we say (this is called a phoneme) is represented with 1 to 4 letters of the alphabet in a particular sequence (this is called a grapheme), and that those graphemes should be read (in English) left to right - if a child doesn't just "infer" this (notice it and make the right assumptions about the code) and if they aren't explicitly taught, then they never become good readers. In fact, there are numerous people walking this earth with Masters degrees and PhDs that are not "good" readers. They don't understand the code and if nobody teaches it to them, they never will.
So we know what the "Science" tells us to do - teach the sound-symbol relationship explicitly. Don't teach children to guess based on context or pictures. Don't train them to look for little words inside of big words (unless we are talking compound words). But how? How much do we have to teach them? Every single spelling? Every single sound? In what order? Do we teach letter names before sounds or sounds before letters? Do we organize lessons around the speech sounds we make or the spelling patterns we use? Do we need to teach each "rule" to 100% mastery before revealing more of the code? Are there even "rules" that we should teach? These are things we don't really know with 100% definitive answers, but I will touch on some programs and how they do these things differently in my next post.