When we see words on a billboard or our computer screen, our brain processes them instantly. We rarely think back to what it was like before we had reading skills or about how it was we learned how to read.

Istation reminds us to take a step back and consider how our minds make sense of letters on the page.

Much of our reading comprehension can be traced back to the “Big Five” essentials of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.

“Lots of scholars worked under these groups to help us better understand these five components of reading,” said Claudia Casillas, a PD for Istation. “Because reading is this complex and dynamic process, it’s really important to access the wealth of knowledge that is available to us, because teachers are engaged in the most important process on the planet.”

Casillas’s colleague Toni Montgomery has been innovating in the field of special education for years and remembers when separating readers of different abilities was just coming into vogue.

“We really looked at how to help students who had great learning difficulties learn. So, they weren’t having success in the regular classroom for some reason, and that student really could not understand the text,” she said. “We had to go back and restructure learning for them, helping them to look at individual sounds and alphabetic phoning principles, getting the student to focus on what they could do as opposed to what the students around them could do.”

Now there are more resources than ever to help those learning to read for the first time and those looking to overcome learning differences.

But it all starts with that foundation, and by utilizing science and research to understand how beginning readers get started learning, teachers will have a much better starting point as they look to make sure every student is reaching his or her maximum potential.

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