Thread 🧵I can’t stop thinking abt how the 1st graders of 2020-2021 are in a particularly dangerous, vulnerable position for not learning how to read well, and the prices they may pay. I’m seeing widespread patterns. Their kindergarten learning was interrupted just as they
🧵 should have been heavily diving into phonic decoding at basic single-syllable levels, which leads to quickly learning a bunch of words via orthographic mapping (not visual memorization), and launching into the fantastic journey of becoming readers. That’s if their pre-pandemic
🧵 instruction was well-aligned w SoR. (worse situation for kids not receiving this kind of instruction, but let’s assume they were). If remote learning found its footing before summer at all, it was understandably shaky. This means kids may have lost around 4500 min (75 hrs)
🧵of rdg/wrtg instruction. Then it was summer. Families with means and luck may have found and hired tutors who had strong knowledge of evidence-based early reading instruction an hour or 2 a week. At best, this would mean the kids got 1200 min (20 hrs) of strong summer
🧵tutoring, which is less than a third of the time they may have missed in the spring, which isn’t great. And then there are the majority of families who didn’t have the means and/or luck to find a highly-qualified tutor, whose kids effectively had little to no summer reading
🧵instruction. Then schools opened in Aug/Sept after countless hours of PPE & sanitizing planning & training, developing hybrid schedules & in-person protocols, ensuring food security, etc. Those needs had to precede academics, obviously. Then these new 1st graders started
🧵hybrid/in-person schooling. Instead of hitting the ground running and making reading & writing growth by leaps & bounds, 2020-2021 1st graders had to learn how to Zoom, navigate Google Classroom, wear their masks properly, sit/stand on the purple dots, elbow bump, etc.
🧵Then maybe some screening & diagnostic data were collected, which presented another host of logistical challenges. Teachers & admins were overtaxed in every possible way before reading instruction even began. When it did, if folks got in a groove, it was promptly & repeatedly
🧵 interrupted by COVID whack-a-mole as groups of teachers & students were quarantined & buildings were shut down for days or weeks at a stretch. Now it looks like total remote learning is in our foreseeable future in the USA as the holidays approach and this virus rages on. So
🧵many 1st graders are barely beyond where they were as kindergartners in March 2020 in terms of learning how to read and it is almost 2021. This begs the question: What are we going to do moving forward to make sure these kids learn how to read well? As far as I can tell, the
🧵best things we can do are to prioritize professional learning about the science of reading, and to make reading instruction the #1 academic priority. This is what is happening in the schools I see who have been most resilient during the pandemic. Especially in first grade.
To be clear, I defer to epidemiologists about whether or not it is safe for schools to be open. We must keep kids safe *and* teach them to read.
Yes, I see the patterns bc of the scope of my job, but I’m also seeing them in literally every 1st grader in my personal life: godson in FL, cousin’s kid in CT, 2 different friends’ kids in 2 parts of NJ, 1 friend’s kid in upstate NY & 1 in western NY. It’s nobody’s fault and
it’s heartbreaking, but we can minimize the risks by making sure teachers & admins embrace reading science, and prioritize reading instruction, regardless of setting. Thanks to all who are stepping up. Our kids deserve & need it now more than ever.

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