The article makes a clear case against relying solely on phonemic awareness and phonics instruction as a strategy for teaching older struggling students how to read. In an effort for a "quick-fix" solution, many schools in the past have elected to saturate students with phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. Often there has been little thought about the purpose for such instruction; likewise there is little evidence of its effectiveness.
I would agree that phonics should never be the sole strategy for teaching reading; I do believe, however, that it is a very important component, along with phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The end objective should always be comprehension. Phonics is a tool toward that end. Phonics promotes fluency. Fluency builds enjoyment, self-esteem, and aids in comprehension.
Before implementing a particular program or practice, the authors suggest considering two simple but crucial questions. 1). Does it help students read better? 2). Does it make students want to read more?
They state that a more productive method of teaching reading to older students must meet students where they are. Many read and write for their own purposes quite successfully outside the classroom. Best practice instruction enables these readers to channel and extend the literacy practices they already use. Teaching should involve high interest literature and positive interactive reading experiences. This requires that the teacher know her students and their interests as well as their independent and instructional reading levels. Students state that they can and want to read when they are given interesting material that they can read without difficulty. Students should also be given time to build fluency....