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reading strategies changed?


Senior Member
'm seeing a lot of criticism online toward the F & P benchmark assessment & 3 cues and I worry that teaching reading has changed and somehow I missed the memo. I've been prompting students to monitor their reading by asking does it look right & does it sound right. I've also been prompting them to say the first few sounds in a word and look for picture clues unless its a word I know I have already taught them the phonetic sound. Lastly, when it's an unfamiliar word, such as "luggage" that I know they can't sound out I've been prompting them to say the first few sounds & skip it to see what would make sense but still look right. From what I'm reading on the internet these strategies now seem to be discouraged.

I'm wondering what strategies you teach for when students come to a sight word that they are not familiar with; such as the word “there” or a phonetic word that can be sounded out but they haven’t learned those sounds yet such as “horse” or “found”
Also what do teachers do when a student isn’t monitoring their reading and says “house” instead of “horse” I usually ask them “does it look right” or “does it sound right” but it seems like that’s no longer the way to do it,


Senior Member
You are correct - 3 cuing has definitely been found to be a strategy that is hindering our learners, and programs like F&P and Lucy Caulkins are not in line with what we know about how students learn to read. In a nutshell, students need explicit, systematic instruction, and our youngest learners are focused on phonemic awareness and early phonics skills. Your kids shouldn't be encountering words like "horse" or "found" in their reading. The books they read should directly correlate to the phonics skills they have been taught. For example, my on level students are reading books with cvc words and a few sight words. My higher students are reading books with blends and digraphs.

Students should never be encouraged to look at a picture or guess at a word. They should be taught to read it. Yes, there are a few sight words that must be memorized, but most can be sounded out once they have learned the skills.

I found this short video to be really eye opening.

I really encourage you to go on facebook and join the "science of reading - what I should have learned in college" group. There are so many wonderful resources and knowledgeable people. I have learned a ton in the past few years about how we learn to read and how best to give my students a solid foundation. And I'm still learning every day.


Senior Member
The trend has shifted to "science of reading" and decodable books.

I'm 100% on board with strong phonemic awareness and systematic phonics instruction. I dislike decodable books.

I hate that there is so much misinformation out there. The only people I've ever heard call it the "three cuing system" are people who are bashing it. I was trained as a primary Literacy Collaborative coach. I was trained directly by people who wrote many of the Literacy Collaborative professional texts. (I've even been to Gay Su Pinnell's house, but that's a story for another day.) NEVER was I taught to tell a child to GUESS a word and hate that that narrative is out there.

We use MANY sources of information when reading. My district and state have switched to "science of reading" and I feel that many tools for instruction have been taken from me.

Many of my students are great at decoding this year, but don't see themselves as readers in the same way my students in the past did when I was able to teach with guided reading.

The reading wars are, indeed, raging again. And, yes, I'm afraid you may have missed the memo.


Senior Member
The reading wars are, indeed, raging again.
That's an interesting quote, because I really don't see it that way. I see that the science of what our brains are doing when we learn to read is becoming more widely known, and people are realizing that so much of what we have been doing as teachers of reading is not working (as shown by how poorly our students perform across the country). Teachers and trainings are finally starting to put instruction together with the science so that we are able to teach all kids to read well, not just some.

I used to hate decodable books. I thought they were forced and silly and boring. However, it only makes sense that the books I am having my kids read are directly tied to the instruction they are getting. It makes no sense to be teaching my kinder babies to read cvc words, and then give them a book with a word like "house". My kids are so much more successful and confident when they are actually able to read the books they are given.

I think this is a very hard shift for many people of my generation who were trained with whole language techniques.


Senior Member
My low SES school has been heavily into SOR for about 6 years now and we have seen great success with many students. Certainly better than what we used to see when our "intervention" was LLI (a F&P program). However, we do have many, many students who just needs tons and tons of intervention and repetition to learn to read. Part of our success is that we provide SO much of that.

From my special education perspective, I do struggle a bit with the one size fits all approach. I will say that many of my students are learning to read and write with SOR and I know that it's particularly important for dyslexic students. BUT, not every student with a reading disability is dyslexic. IMO, the "textbook dyslexic" kids are the easiest to teach, because they respond as expected to SOR techniques. Every year I have at least one student who I question if they may just not be a "phonics reader." We beat them over the head with it for years and years, with hours of intervention per day, and they just cannot do it.

I would like to see more research into students with lower IQs and if this is really the right thing for them. We've talked a lot about Kilpatrick in our PD and I know he's done research around students with what he calls "lower" IQs, but those studies are still based on kids within the lower 80s range. I have many students on my caseload who aren't low enough to meet intellectual disability criteria, but fall within the low 70s and I'm just not sure we're doing right by them. I totally understand the picture thing, and that looking at the picture is not reading. I would never push those strategies. I'm more thinking some kids with certain levels of disability may be more functional with a sight word based approach.

I also honestly sometimes question the intense focus on PA. The thing that doesn't make sense to me is that many higher SES schools continue to use whole language approaches, and obviously they continue to have high test scores. I know the party line in my area is that in those districts, parents are making up for what the schools don't provide. I buy that to an extent. I do not buy that parents in higher SES communities, who are not teachers themselves, are sitting at home with their child doing things like, "say cat, but instead of /k/, say /m/." Most adults who are not teachers don't know what PA is, nor do they even know most phonics rules or things like syllable types, etc. We are constantly told in SOR PD that only about 40% of children can learn to read with "any" (i.e. non-SOR) approach. Why is it that in higher SES communities, it's more like 90% are learning to read with that approach?

All this to say, I think it's more complex than is often presented by the SOR advocates.