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American Educator
Summer 1995


Table of Contents

Learning to Read: Schooling's First Mission

Millions of youngsters are not learning to read well, and the impact on their lives is devastating. A large body of research points to how we can best help them, but much of this knowledge base has not made its way into the classroom.

Resolving the 'Great Debate'
By Marilyn J. Adams and Maggie Bruck

Many aspects of the Whole Language approach have brought fresh life to numerous classrooms. But to the extent that it has reduced decoding to an incidental place in the curriculum, it has done a terrible disservice to the children whose lives depend on mastery of that skill. We need a balanced program that combines the best of both approaches.

The Role of Decoding in Learning to Read
By Isabel L. Beck and Connie Juel

We now know a lot more than we used to about what constitute the critical elements of decoding and how to teach them. A return to abstracted "drill and more drill"? No, say the authors, who also offer practical suggestions for improving the materials found in widely used basal programs.

The Missing Foundation in Teacher Education
By Louisa Cook Moats

How many speech sounds are in the word "ox"? Explain when a "ck" is used in spelling. In a survey of experienced teachers, the author found serious gaps in their knowledge of the structure of written and spoken language. Not surprising, since teacher preparation programs are not teaching it.

Talking Substance
By Marcia Reecer

With neither the time needed to get together, nor a common curriculum to focus on, most teachers are left to re-invent the wheel in thousands of separate classrooms. Here are two initiatives that are changing that dynamic.

Praise That Doesn't Demean, Criticism That Doesn't Wound
By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, with Lisa Nyberg and Rosalyn Anstine Templeton

Effective feedback is a key part of a teacher's job, but gold stars and "you're the greatest" accolades can't compare with concrete descriptions of what a student has done well ... and of what yet remains to be accomplished.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

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