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    P. David Pearson Remembers Kenneth S. Goodman

    By P. David Pearson
     | Mar 23, 2020
    Kenneth Goodman headshot

    On March 12, ILA past president Kenneth S. Goodman passed away peacefully at home. Goodman was without question one of the most influential scholars in the field of literacy education. In this series of posts, several of Goodman’s colleagues reflect on the indelible impact of his work and his life.

    When I received the email from my colleague Patty Anders letting me know that Ken had died, my heart stopped. We knew this day would come eventually, but when it did, it seemed surreal to me. Hard for me to imagine the field of literacy and reading research without Ken. Hard to imagine the world without him.

    We agreed on a lot of issues about literacy research and practice but not everything. Unlike modern political discourse, our points of difference prompted deeper conversations and more reading, not an exit from the room. If I had to argue a point, I wanted to do it with Ken because I always left the conversation richer for the interaction: I always learned something new. Differences aside, one thing we always agreed on was policy—and how important it is—to support teacher knowledge and prerogative, not mandated curriculum or assessments, as the primary tools for shaping the ways we support student learning.

    I knew Ken though his research before I met him in person. But I’ll never forget the first time I heard him talk. It was about 1970, at a pre-convention institute hosted by the Psycholinguistics and Reading committee of the International Reading Association (IRA), and I heard him give the oral version of Reading: A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game. I knew then that the old model of reading as the sum total of an assembly line of skills was doomed, and the behavioristic reading theory apple cart I had inherited from early grad student days was crushed—for good!

    We became friends, making sure to meet at every IRA and National Council of Teachers of English meeting. Ken and his wife, Yetta, became mentors, offering advice (what kinds of research to do), consolation (in response to an all too frequent string of manuscript rejections in those early days), and community (an invitation into their expanding cadre of scholars committed to applying theory and research to student learning, teacher learning, and teacher education).

    The day before Ken died, Patty Anders told me that she was going out to see Ken and Yetta and the family. I asked her to tell him, if the opportunity arose, that he has always been, still is, and will always be my literacy hero—my model of what it means to be a scholar of both theory and practice. Ken died before Patty was able to make that visit. I think, I hope, Ken knew how I felt about him.

    Ken was a model, a mentor, a colleague, a friend. Miss him forever. Remember him even longer.

    P. David Pearson is an emeritus faculty member in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as Dean from 2001–2010.

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    James V. Hoffman Remembers Kenneth S. Goodman

    By James V. Hoffman
     | Mar 18, 2020

    Kenneth S. Goodman headshot
    On March 12, ILA past president Kenneth S. Goodman passed away peacefully at home. Goodman was without question one of the most influential scholars in the field of literacy education. In this series of posts, several of Goodman’s colleagues reflect on the indelible impact of his work and his life.

    Ken Goodman’s legacy as a literacy scholar is a treasure that future generations will continue to mine for the wisdom, the character, and the moral purpose it represents.

    Ken has been a centering force in our professional community for over 50 years. To be in his presence was at the same time awe inspiring and comforting. In his absence we are compelled to push forward with courage and commitment along the path that he has marked for us.

    If there were a 23andMe test for academic lineage, I would flow 100% Ken Goodman. My major professor was Dave Allen—a self-described “original miscueteer” who studied with Ken in the same cohort as Bill Page, Carolyn Burke, and other renowned literacy educators. I think this mentoring experience qualified me as Ken’s academic grandson. (One of many.)

    Little did I realize while in my doctoral program that Ken would lead me on a career path that I could never have imagined without his inspiration. Miscues were not just a reframing of an “error.” Miscues were even more than a window into the child’s emerging understanding of how language works. Miscues were a path into a philosophy and a pedagogy that Ken’s collaborator and wife Yetta Goodman describes as centered on revaluing the learner, or what Ken expressed in one of his favorite email taglines: Learning is not a Response to Instruction. Effective Instruction is a Response to Learning.

    I didn’t realize at that time that I would have the great fortune to become Ken’s colleague, friend, and even coauthor. I didn’t agree with everything he said, how he said it, or when he said it, but in almost every case, with hindsight, I came to realize that he was right and I was wrong.

    I can’t say the same about his jokes, which were very long and often funnier to him than to those who listened to him tell it. But you had to laugh with him because for Ken to tell you a joke meant that he noticed you and cared for you. Humor was so important to Ken and was often revealed in the blunt ways he would comment on the absurdities that abound  in our field. Ken’s post regarding DIBELS, for example, carries more meaning than any technical analysis could muster: As for me, I prefer the eminent test authority professor Roger Farr whose assessment is summed up as follows in a private communication with a number of eminent witnesses: DIBELS is a piece of sh***.”  

    If you want an insight into Ken—his humor and his humanity—I invite you to read his reflection on turning 90. I guarantee you will laugh and perhaps shed a tear or two.

    I was raised Catholic, and I learned from the nuns in St. Francis Xavier elementary school that the little voice inside my head telling me right from wrong was the voice of my guardian angel. That little voice is still with me, and I realized somewhere in my professional life that the voice had taken a turn from an Irish Catholic guardian angel to something sounding a lot like Ken Goodman—reminding me to do the right thing, to challenge the wrongs that surround us, to see text and context as inseparable, and to view research and teaching as inseparable moral endeavors. 

    Ken’s life is honored every time we take up these same stances in our own work. Every time we inspire young literacy scholars to be bold in their work and not to forget the humanity in which we are all bound.

    Thank you, Ken Goodman. To borrow from Barack Obama’s comments on Nelson Mandela’s passing, “What a wonderful person. What a wonderful life.”

    James V. Hoffman is a professor of language and literacy at the University of North Texas.

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    Brian Cambourne Remembers Kenneth S. Goodman

    By Brian Cambourne
     | Mar 18, 2020

    Kenneth S. Goodman headshot
    On March 12, ILA past president Kenneth S. Goodman passed away peacefully at home. Goodman was without question one of the most influential scholars in the field of literacy education. In this series of posts, several of Goodman’s colleagues reflect on the indelible impact of his work and his life.

    Whenever I met Ken at conferences or communicated with him via email, he would always greet me with a whimsical “G’day mate.” This was his way of acknowledging both my Australian-ness and my Australian working-class roots. Even though I’ll forever value the times Ken and I would “[tire] the sun with talking and sent him down the sky,” when all my tears are shed, that’s how I’ll remember him. I’ll hear his gentle, whimsical voice welcoming me: “G’day mate.” 

    Ken and I have been “mates” in the Australian way now for more than 45 years. This mateship began in the academic year of 1975–76. I’d been lucky enough to be awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). During one of the many coffee breaks I took in her reading centre, the late Jeanne Chall said to me, “Brian, there’s this fellow from Wayne State called Ken Goodman who’s been writing a lot about something called miscue analysis. He claims it shows that meaning-based approaches supporting learning to read are better than code-based approaches. Seeing you have more time than the rest of us, why don’t you research his claims? Perhaps you could do a paper for the Harvard Ed. Review, which we could publish?”

    She then gave me a large red box with the words “Reading Miscue Inventory” (RMI) on its lid and said, “The material in this box is by three of his research students who should know his work better than most. You can start here. To help me in this task, Courtney Cazden, my fellowship sponsor, found some money to send me (by Greyhound) to Wayne State to spend time with Ken and his doctoral students.

    On arrival at his centre, Ken welcomed me, found me a desk, and gave me a large bundle of stuff to read. It was here that I witnessed the kind of scholarship Ken engendered in his students and colleagues.

    What I found in the red box together with my experiences at Ken’s research centre changed my life, professionally and personally, forever.

    With the benefit of over four decades of hindsight, I now realise that I had been caught up in a Kuhn-ian scientific revolution. However, in 1975, I thought I was simply experiencing multiple ahas about reading, language, learning, and teaching.

    One aha in particular forced me to question the paradigm of learning I’d long held. In one of the papers Ken gave me to read that day was this statement: “The oral and written forms of the language are parallel versions of the same thing—language.”

    This was a turning point in my professional life. Michael Halliday’s “Learning How to Mean” had just been published (Halliday, 1975). The connections between Ken’s and Halliday’s theories shook me to my professional core. I wrote in my journal, “If learning how to talk is learning how to mean using the oral mode of language, then perhaps learning how to read and write is learning how to mean using the written form of language? If they’re parallel versions of the same thing, perhaps they can be learned similarly. Perhaps learning how to mean is what the brain has evolved to do?”

    When I returned to HGSE from Wayne State, Jeanne asked me to write an evaluation of the RMI and summarise Ken Goodman’s work. The result was my first paper to be published in Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ), “Getting to Goodman.” It wasn’t quite the summary that Jeanne was hoping for, but to be fair to her, she encouraged me to submit it to RRQ.

    That was the paper which launched my academic career and set me on the path of research and theory building I’ve been engaged in for most of my professional life.

    Like many others touched by Ken’s work, I realised that his view of the reading process went far beyond the insular conception of reading as a subject of the curriculum. Rather, it drew from a range of separate discipline areas including psychology, linguistics, cognition, and the then newly emerging fields psycho- and sociolinguistics. At the core of his work was a constructivist view of learning that insisted that students should be active participants in their learning, not mere recipients of some static “stuff” called “knowledge.”

    Although he is at rest, his work keeps his memory alive for me, and I can hear him now as if he were in the room himself: “G’day mate.”

    Brian Cambourne is a principal fellow in the faculty of education at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

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    In Memoriam: Kenneth S. Goodman (1927–2020)

    ILA Staff
     | Mar 17, 2020

    Yetta & Ken Goodman
    Kenneth S. Goodman, often referred to as the founding father of the whole language approach to reading, passed away peacefully at home on March 12. He was 92. He is survived by his wife and colleague, Yetta M. Goodman, with whom he collaborated frequently.

    Goodman, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, served as president of the International Reading Association (now International Literacy Association) from 1980 to 1981 and at-large Board member from 1976 to 1979. Throughout his storied career, he earned some of the highest honors in the field, including the William S. Gray Citation of Merit (1986). In 1989, he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame.

    “Ken Goodman was a literacy icon who was fearless where the authentic learning of our children was at stake,” says Kathy N. Headley, president of the ILA Board of Directors. “To say he will be missed is an understatement.”

    “The world lost another giant,” wrote Gary Stager upon learning of Goodman’s death. “Ken Goodman was responsible for developing the theory underlying the literacy approach known as whole language—making him one of the most important, vilified, and courageous educators in history.”

    Widely considered one of the most influential scholars in the field, Goodman’s work was often as polarizing as it was pioneering. He once famously described reading as a “psycholinguistic guessing game.” His concept of written language development being parallel to oral language development led to the whole language approach as well as research into related concepts such as miscue analysis and the three-cueing system which, though highly debated, continues to serve as a foundation in many early reading classrooms.

    “Whether in agreement with Ken or not, he always promoted deep thinking and conversation among members of the literacy community,” says Diane Lapp, chair of ILA’s Literacy Research Panel and distinguished professor of literacy at San Diego State University.

    “I didn’t agree with everything he said, how he said it, or when he said it, but in almost every case, with hindsight, I came to realize that he was right and I was wrong,” says James V. Hoffman, professor of language and literacy at the University of North Texas, who refers to himself as Goodman’s “academic grandson” (“If there were a 23andMe test for academic lineage, I would flow 100% Ken Goodman.”)

    Goodman, Hoffman says, “[led] me on a career path that I could never have imagined without his inspiration.” It’s a sentiment shared by many, including Brian Cambourne, principal fellow in the faculty of education at the University of Wollongong in Australia, who says that his experiences at Goodman’s research center “changed my life, professionally and personally, forever.”

    “Like many others touched by Ken’s work, I realised that his view of the reading process went far beyond the insular conception of reading as a subject of the curriculum,” Cambourne says. “At the core of his work was a constructivist view of learning that insisted that students should be active participants in their learning, not mere recipients of some static ‘stuff’ called ‘knowledge.’”

    Some of Goodman’s colleagues, including Cambourne and Hoffman, have shared touching tributes. Reading their words, it’s apparent how deeply this loss is felt.  

    In the United Kingdom, Goodman is credited with revolutionizing early reading instruction. Past presidents of the United Kingdom Reading Association (now the United Kingdom Literacy Association) issued a joint statement on his passing. Greg Brooks, emeritus professor at the University of Sheffield, Henrietta Dombey, emerita professor at the University of Brighton, and Colin Harrison, emeritus professor at the University of Nottingham, said there is no one who has trained to be a teacher in the past 40 years in the UK who is not familiar with the work of both Ken and Yetta.

    “Ken’s passionate advocacy for reading for meaning and enjoyment, rather than for accuracy at the expense of meaning and enjoyment, helped to inspire the ‘real books’ movement in the UK,” they said. “His approach brought theoretical support to what was to become a nationwide practice of daily parent–child book-sharing, with a book taken home from school each day.”

    They continued: “Ken Goodman has a stature as a scholar in the field of literacy that is unmatched, and that will endure.”

    Headley agrees, adding, “The literacy communities extend our regrets and love to his wife, Yetta, and family and friends.”

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    Educators Share Their Responses to ILA’s 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report

    By ILA Staff
     | Mar 02, 2020

    What's Hot InfographicThe first assignment that Elizabeth LaGamba, assistant professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, gives to her Current Issues in Reading Research graduate students each semester is to read the most recent What’s Hot in Literacy Report from ILA. In addition to sharing their feedback with the class, one of the requirements is to send their response to ILA.

    We have enjoyed reading the thorough and thoughtful responses for the past several years, and so we recently asked LaGamba to write an article for Literacy Today, our member magazine, about why she includes this as an assignment in her class and what it is about the report that she finds valuable.

    You can find her article, “A Guide to Professional Growth: Using The ILA 2020 What’s Hot in Literacy Report to Frame Our Study of Current Issues in Reading Research,” in the March/April issue.

    Here we share the feedback we received from her students in January when the 2020 report was released.

    “An area that I feel needs more attention is the lack of resources and texts for literacy development. Technology makes it more challenging to engage students in real text. This can create a barrier when building an effective library. ESL students discussed in the report, specifically ages 15–18, truly suffer when it comes to library resources. However, as a secondary teacher, this continues to be a struggle for my [English-speaking] students as well. I hope to view additional research that aligns with supporting students with self-selecting texts. I also hope to learn more about expanding my personal literacy library within my classroom.” —Kaitlyn Foley

    “[An] area that caught my attention was how to support our students with social and emotional challenges through literacy. As an emotional support teacher, I am challenged to provide students with extreme social-emotional challenges quality reading instruction. Often times, these students’ behavior challenges must be addressed first before academics, which makes it very difficult to find ways to teach them reading effectively…. Teacher preparation programs should have a course dedicated to how to differentiate reading instruction to reach students with emotional and social challenges. In addition to that, I feel that resources need to be created that are social-emotional friendly. These could include books that are more relatable to things in their lives, shorter novels, writing guides so they do not become overwhelmed, etc. Hopefully with these suggestions, there will one day be a solution to some of these problems.” —Sarah Jones

    “I’m an elementary teacher in the U.S. Unlike neighboring districts, my school does not have a program for literacy instruction. Rather, we have a curriculum written by my coworkers, fabulous educators who have unfortunately not received training in curriculum writing. There are positives—a decent guided reading library and access to websites that provide culturally relevant texts—and many negatives to my situation—an incredible amount of time spent locating materials and writing lesson plans that may or may not be rigorous enough or suit student needs. It feels like many of my concerns go unheard, or that no one outside of my district could share them because of our unique situation. After reading about the top concerns in literacy education for educators around the world, I’ve never felt more heard by or connected to other educators.” —Anonymous

    “Something that stuck out to me as a classroom teacher, who is working on becoming a reading specialist, was the importance of independent reading. I was surprised that 40% of respondents thought independent reading was the best way to grow students into strong readers. I think that independent reading fosters an enjoyment for reading, but students need some kind of instruction or modeling of reading as well. I also found it interesting that so many responded by stating there is not enough time for independent reading. If you believe it is the best way to grow readers, don’t you think you would make the time? I set aside a 15–20 minute block of time each day for the students just to read. Although, yes, it takes away from other subjects, I feel that it is important for students to have that time to be alone with books.” —Anonymous

    “I was not surprised to see that early literacy was ranked the most important. In my district, we’ve recently discussed how much time we spend on developing great, effective interventions in third through fifth grade, but less time developing great, effective interventions in pre-K–2. We are spending much of our time trying to provide intermediate level interventions to students who do not have those phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and on-level vocabulary skills mastered.” —Beth Freer

    “Teacher preparation programs need to ensure that they are providing soon-to-be educators with the skills needed for effective early literacy instruction and teachers need to stay up-to-date on effective, research-based practices related to literacy instruction. I will be forwarding this report to my administrator in hopes that we can start discussing what areas we need to continue to work on within our district to guarantee we are providing students at all grade levels with the tools and knowledge needed to be effective, literate learners.” —Jessica Miller

    “Ensuring teachers have time to learn from one another through meetings, observations, and trainings is critical…. I will be ensuring that as I interview for positions for this upcoming school year, I will question what system the school has in place for allowing teachers and other professionals the time to learn with and from one another on a recurring basis. Also, I will question the professional development opportunities that the school has in place.” —Melissa Gorham

    “I found it helpful to see what connections I could make with other teachers around the world and how my thought processes differed from other teachers, reading consultants, administrators, and higher education professionals. One of the topics that stood out to me was time for independent reading. There is just not enough time in the day for students to enjoy the act of independent self-selected reading…. I wish they had more time to do this because I think it would encourage a love for reading.” —Caitlin Huden

    “I have been an educator for almost 19 years, 15 years as a special education teacher and the last four working in adult male corrections as a special educator and most recently an ABE/GED teacher. So many of the points that you made in your [report] ring true for adult students also. I teach ELL students, primarily Spanish speaking, in my morning classes, and I find it very difficult to find age-appropriate, authentic materials for them. I spend hours searching the internet for culturally diverse materials. I identify with the 37% of educators who find it to be a challenge to support these students.” —Gina Sleppy

    “I believe in building a solid foundation of early literacy skills. I am only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have learned, and continue to learn, that many reading difficulties stem from children not being solid in the cornerstones of reading like phonological and phonemic awareness…. My hope is that with this report and the number of respondents who deem these topics as critical and crucial, the education community can develop a plan to work on these areas and share in student success.” —Christina Lahr

    “One area that really resonated with me is teacher preparation. Although I was dual-certified in both elementary and special education, I found myself in need of additional preparation to successfully help every learner reach his or her full literacy potential. This inspired me to pursue a reading specialist certification. I was fortunate to have the financial means in the form of tuition reimbursement, but I wonder what can be done for those who do not have the resources to further their education in order to be better equipped to meet the literacy needs of all learners.” —Melissa Klug

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