This is often what we see in classrooms today. Students appear to be reading...some even become quite expert at keeping up the appearance. Their arms are doing their strokes perfectly...but if you look under the water? They're only walking. Let me explain.
damaging habits that are hard to break. What happens when students are given harder text where context cues are not as simple and where there are no pictures? What happens when relying on "Skippy Frog" and "Eagle Eye" no longer help? What happens when their expert guessing skills no longer keep them afloat? They drown. They hit 3rd or 4th grade and their lack of skills becomes hugely apparent. The text is more challenging and we then discover that these students can't read.
Then my own son was diagnosed with dyslexia. Then my lowest student, without knowledge of the alphabetic code, read her end of year text assessment perfectly. I thought about previous students in my classroom who struggled. And I thought about the ones who didn't seem to. And I began to realize...something's not quite right. I've been teaching my students how to walk through a pool. I've been teaching them to wave their arms around like they're swimming. But I haven't looked deep enough. I haven't looked under the water to see if they are actually swimming. I haven't explicitly taught them the skills they need.
It takes a lot of courage to take a hard look at your teaching and determine if the way you are teaching is effective for all students. The problem with Balanced Literacy is that students often do appear to be reading their leveled text. So, unless a teacher looks deeply, she/he won't realize the child actually cannot decode words.
Are you teaching your students to swim?