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Task force tackles illiteracy in Wisconsin by teaching a new technique for struggling readers

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About a third of Wisconsin students read below the basic level, according to the Literacy Task Force of Wisconsin.

The task force is trying to address this issue by introducing teachers and parents to a new method to teach kids how to read at a literacy intervention workshop this July.

Its goal is to give educators tools to quickly improve the reading and spelling abilities of struggling older readers.

Donna Hejtmanek, the task force’s president, says, rather than the traditional method of sounding out written words, researchers are pushing a different technique.

“It’s called a speech to print approach,” she says. “Normally when we teach reading, it’s more of a ‘here’s the word, read it.’ This is more of a hear the word, hear the sounds, and then write the sounds you hear.”

Hejtmanek says this technique can be used to fast-track struggling readers into reading proficiently.

Additionally, she says it works for people both young and old, which matters because illiteracy can be a lifelong challenge.

“We have a literacy crisis in this country,” she says. “We have many people that are either young people, young adults or old adults who are struggling readers, who’ve never had their reading issues addressed. It’s a lifelong disability that can cause lots of pain and heartache and it’s so unnecessary.”

The literacy workshop will be held at Nicolet College from July 27-29.

Registration and more information can be found at this link.

Erin Gottsacker joined WXPR in December 2020. As a morning edition host and reporter, Erin reports on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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