VocabularySpellingCity sponsored a webinar Dec. 1 with one of my favorite literacy heroes, Dr. Timothy Rasinski. His message on the importance of automaticity in word learning, and its connection to comprehension, is one that all educators can learn from. And they did!
More than 1,600 educators registered for Tim’s webinar. Several educators from as far away as Australia watched it live, where it was the middle of the night! Hundreds of teachers across the U.S. also joined the webinar, many of them watching with other teachers.
Everyone who registered will receive a link to the recording of the Tim Rasinski webinar. Our hope is that you learn something new, confirm knowledge you already believed, and share this valuable information with others.
My three favorite takeaways of his many insightful points are:
- We want students to learn words for a lifetime. Assigning words on Monday and testing on Friday is not good practice in accomplishing the goal of word retention. It didn’t work when we were in school, and it doesn’t work now. So why are we still doing it?
- Learning word families works because our brains are wired to look for patterns. Knowing the 38 most common word families allows students to read and spell 654 one-syllable words. Word automaticity gives students a foundation and this knowledge extends into multisyllabic words.
- In order to comprehend, a reader needs both accuracy and fluency. There are students who can accurately recognize words. This is not reading! Fluency is the necessary bridge between word recognition and comprehension. This allows for a reader’s cognitive energy to focus on the meaning of the text.
At the end of the webinar, Tim thanked teachers. He shared a touching conversation he’d had with his mother about teaching, and a poem that she gave him about the value of being a teacher, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson : “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.” His mother added: “And this is to have been a teacher.”
Tim’s memory showed his deep appreciation of all teachers, the jobs we do, and the lives we change.
Thanks, Dr. Rasinski, for sharing your knowledge with us – and for just being you.
Tim Rasinski is a professor of literacy education at Kent State University. His research on reading has been cited by the National Reading Panel and has been published in journals such as Reading Research Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, Reading Psychology, and the Journal of Educational Research. Read more about Rasinski here, or connect with him on Twitter @timrasinski1. Dr. Rasinski also wrote a an earlier post in our blog, Automaticity in Word Learning: That’s the Goal.
Dr. Rasinski’s research on word fluency is cited in the report, “Applying Best Practices For Effective Vocabulary Instruction,” written by VocabularySpellingCity in partnership with McREL International.
One thought on “Insights from Literacy Expert Tim Rasinski on Vocabulary and Comprehension”
Tim has the most sensible view I know on the issues of phonics, fluency and prosody. If you want your kids to read like robots or auctioneers then focus on speed alone. If you want them to read like storytellers then use some of Tim’s ideas. My grandkids read like story tellers and they understand what they read. I’ve heard Tim call prosody the Gateway to Comprehension. He is right about that. His programs have a strong research base. I really appreciate VocabularySpellingCity.com making this link more widely available. That way the thousands who have already heard this can be joined by those of us who haven’t. Well done all around!!! Dr. B.