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There is a buzz around the term "science of reading" in the education world, especially in Michigan where three critical bills currently await action in the legislature. These bills aim to utilize the science of reading to help Michigan students. But what exactly is the science of reading? It's a term that encompasses years of research across various domains to determine effective methods of supporting readers. Let's delve into what this science entails.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the first key component in the science of reading. It refers to the ability of readers to identify the sounds that different parts of a word make. This is a foundational skill in reading as it allows learners to understand how words break up into smaller units of sound, known as phonemes.


Phonics is another critical aspect of the science of reading. It involves teaching readers to identify how letters work together to make sounds and form spelling patterns. By understanding phonics, readers can decode words, which is a crucial step in the reading process.


Fluency is the ability of readers to read words, phrases, sentences, and stories with adequate speed, expression, and accuracy. Fluent reading is smooth and has rhythm, allowing the reader to focus on comprehension rather than decoding words. A lack of fluency can hinder comprehension and make reading a laborious task.


In the context of reading, vocabulary refers to the words that readers know, what they mean, and how to say and use them. A strong vocabulary is instrumental in comprehension as it allows readers to understand what they are reading. Expanding a reader's vocabulary is a continuous process and an essential part of reading instruction.


Finally, comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. It's the ability to understand and make sense of what one is reading. Comprehension involves connecting new information to what the reader already knows, asking questions, making predictions, and visualizing information. Without comprehension, reading is just word calling.

Understanding the science of reading is crucial for educators, parents, and policy-makers alike. It provides a roadmap for teaching reading effectively and helping students become proficient readers. As we move forward, the science of reading will continue to guide our efforts in improving literacy rates and fostering a love for reading among students.

Want to be involved in the movement to bring more equitable literacy tools to Michigan students? Sign our open letter or register to attend our info session on January 24.


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