Science of Reading: The Podcast

Science of Reading: The Podcast delivers the latest insights from researchers and practitioners in early reading. Each episode takes a conversational approach and explores a timely topic related to the Science of Reading.

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In each episode, host Susan Lambert, chief academic officer, Elementary Humanities at Amplify Education, explores the increasing body of scientific research around how reading is best taught. As a former classroom teacher, administrator, and curriculum developer, Susan is dedicated to turning theory into best practices that educators can put right to use in the classroom, and to showcasing national models of reading instruction excellence. Listen and subscribe here!


Season 6, Episode 11. What I should have learned in college with Donna Hetjmanek

Throughout this season, we’ve explored different tiers of the education system. In this episode, we look at the role higher education plays in equipping teachers with the right training and tools. Our guest Donna Hejtmanek, a retired special education teacher and reading specialist, shares her disappointing first-hand experience of going back to school at the age of 58—an experience that made her realize many universities weren’t training educators in the Science of Reading. Donna tells Susan the story of how she came to create the incredibly popular Facebook group Science of Reading–What I Should Have Learned in College, and discusses what it will take to change higher education.

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Season 6, Episode 10. The big win is just the beginning with Dr. Jennifer Throndsen

With Utah’s recent passing of Senate Bill 127, a sweeping piece of literacy legislation, many are turning to the state as a model of what statewide implementation of the Science of Reading can look like. In this episode, Dr. Jennifer Throndsen, Director of Teaching and Learning at Utah State Board of Education, joins Susan to tell the story of how Senate Bill 127 came to be and how they are continuing to make changes in schools across Utah. Together, they discuss what the bill included, the opportunities and challenges the bill provides when it comes to implementation, and advice for other states looking to enact literacy legislation. Throndsen also discusses her experience as a teacher and her journey with the Science of Reading.

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Season 6, Episode 9. Lessons from a talking dog:
TV’s “Reading Buddies” on making learning fun

In this episode, we take you behind the scenes of the smash hit foundational reading series The Reading League’s “Reading Buddies,” aimed at students in pre-K through third grade. Susan is joined by Andrea Dotto and Brendan Malafronte—artists, performers, and co-founders of children’s story hour and media company Dusty & Dott—as well as “Reading Buddies” executive producer Toni Ann Walsh. Together, the four of them discuss how the show started and how Andrea and Brendan got up to speed on the Science of Reading, and share tips for educators and caregivers on how to make reading instruction fun for kids.

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Season 6, Episode 8. Love at the center of literacy with Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson

Dr. Nyshawana Francis-Thompson, Deputy Chief of Curriculum and Instruction in the School District of Philadelphia, has played an integral role leading and sustaining a transition to the Science of Reading in the Philadelphia public school district. But making such a change across a large district is difficult. In this episode, Dr. Francis-Thompson (who goes by Dr. Ny) talks with Susan about Philadelphia’s experience. She also talks about her own experience learning about the Science of Reading, and offers tips to other district-level leaders and wisdom about providing all students with the liberation that comes through reading and leading—all with love at the center.

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Season 6, Episode 7. The how and why behind high-quality instructional materials with Rebecca Kockler

As the former chief academic officer at the Louisiana Department of Education, Rebecca Kockler made it her mission to empower districts to select higher quality materials. This involved a thorough and rigorous curriculum review, and allowing teachers to choose the program they wanted once they knew exactly what they were getting. This work built Kockler’s case for focusing on quality curricula as a vital part of student success. Using Kockler’s work in Louisiana as a case study, this episode shows why state governments should focus on logistics, procurement, and equipping educators with the information they need to make the best decision for their students.

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Season 6, Episode 6. Literacy is Law: Leading Legislative Change with State Senator Mimi Stewart

Mimi Stewart is a state senator from New Mexico and previously worked as a public school elementary special education teacher for thirty years, with an expertise in reading literacy. Her unique background has turned into a passion for and a history of championing educational policies as a legislator. This episode focuses on how state government and state legislation can work to improve literacy instruction. She takes us through the process of creating a piece of literacy legislation, New Mexico Senate Bill 398, which passed in 2019. Sen. Stewart also shares the latest on that bill and also talks about what she’s now focusing on from her place in the legislature—like changing that way we teach teachers from a university level.

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Season 6, Episode 5. Leading with the head and the heart: Enacting lasting literacy change with Mitchell Brookins

Equal parts educational leader, educator, and life-long learner of reading science, Mitchell Brookins has leveraged his passion and dedication to affect change in the lives of the students and teachers he works with, as well as the many educators he has inspired online. In this episode, he opens up about the emotional journey he took—from realizing everything he’d been doing wasn’t working and that he’d never actually learned how to teach kids to read, to seeking out reading research and encountering the Science of Reading—a path that brought unparalleled transformation and success to his schools. Mitchell talks about how he is still learning  and keeping students at the forefront of what he does every day, ending on a powerful story of a student who changed his life forever.

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Season 6, Episode 4. From the community, for the community: Grassroots organizing with Naomi Peña & Akeela Azcuy

Community and education activist Naomi Peña and clinical psychologist Dr. Akeela Azcuy knew that, as moms of struggling readers themselves, they had the opportunity to advocate for not only their own children but all children. These two leaders and changemakers founded Literacy Academy Collective with the goal of one day creating a stand-alone New York City public school devoted to educating children with language-based learning disabilities as well as struggling readers. In this episode, our guests share their own families’ experiences with dyslexia, how that impacted their activism, and how listeners at home can effect grassroots change in their own communities.

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Season 6, Episode 3. Focused implementation: Doing less to do more, with Dr. Doug Reeves

Educator, researcher, author, and leadership consultant Dr. Doug Reeves joins Susan to discuss his book Building to Impact. Together, they dive into what evidence-based implementation looks like, including the importance of de-implementation. Doug also provides advice on how to define success for your school, and the ways to make it happen by focusing on one thing at a time until it becomes part of your school’s culture.

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Season 6, Episode 2. NAEP: What you’ve always wanted to know with Chester Finn, Jr.

In this episode, we dive deep into the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s report card. Chester Finn, Jr., author of the new book Assessing the Nation’s Report Card: Challenges and Choices for NAEP, joins Susan to discuss the NAEP assessment. Together, Susan and Chester discuss how the assessment works, what it is and isn’t, and what benefits and opportunities it provides as the achievement gap continues to grow.

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Season 6, Episode 1. The other side of Scarborough’s Rope with Margaret Goldberg

In our kick-off episode for season six, host Susan Lambert is joined by podcast alum Margaret Goldberg, the co-founder of the Right to Read Project.  They discuss the new, animated SoR series Brain Builders, and how this free tool can be shared directly with students and with their caregivers. Importantly, Margaret also elevates the need to focus on the comprehension strand of the Science of Reading.

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Summer ’22 Rewind: Empowering English language learners with Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan

Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, Ed.D, is a bilingual speech-language pathologist and a certified academic language therapist. She serves as Director of the Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas, which was established in 1993. She also works with the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston and is the author of Esperanza (HOPE), a Spanish-language program designed to assist students who struggle with learning to read. Her research interests include the development of early reading assessments for Spanish-speaking students and reading interventions for bilingual students. She was co-principal investigator of a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute for Education Science that examined the English and Spanish oracy and literacy development of Spanish-speaking children. She serves as Vice President of the International Dyslexia Association and has authored curricular programs, book chapters, and journal articles related to oracy and literacy development for English language learners.

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Summer ’22 Rewind: Myths and misconceptions about universal screening: Dr. Nancy Nelson

Dr. Nancy Nelson, assistant professor of special education at Boston University, discusses myths and misconceptions around RTI, MTSS, and assessment screening in reading and mathematics instruction. She highlights what tools need to be in place for the RTI system to be implemented well, her work on DIBELS®, and the importance of dyslexia screeners.

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Season 5, Episode 12. Summer ’22 Rewind: Research, comprehension, and content-rich literacy instruction: Sonia Cabell

Join Sonia Cabell, associate professor at the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University, as she shares findings from her research trials on content-rich literacy curricula and discusses whether activating students’ background knowledge alongside explicit phonics instruction is more effective than the traditional approaches. She also describes what constitutes “compelling evidence” in the Science of Reading and explains why students need to interact with both written and spoken language while learning to read.

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Season 5, Episode 11. Summer ’22 Rewind: The symbiotic relationship between literacy and science with Jacquey Barber

Jacquey Barber, director emerita of The Learning Design Group at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, joins the podcast to discuss her research on the symbiotic relationship between literacy and science, as well as what educators should be looking for in high-quality, literacy-rich science curricula. She also goes into strategies for engaging students, including the do, talk, read, write model, then ends the episode by highlighting the many ways science supports reading.

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Season 5, Episode 10. Training the next generation of Science of Reading educators with Dr. Amy Murdoch

Dr. Amy Murdoch is the assistant dean of Reading Science in the School of Education at Mount St. Joseph University. She received her doctorate in school psychology with an emphasis in early literacy from the University of Cincinnati. In this episode, she chats with Susan Lambert about creating prominent graduate and doctoral programs in the Science of Reading, and the responsibility of training the next generation of early literacy educators. She discusses how she has seen Science of Reading interest escalate, shares her hopes for the future of reading science in schools, and offers advice for those who are new to the Science of Reading and/or exploring an advanced degree rooted in reading science.

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Season 5, Episode 09. Making every day a “wins day” with Grammy-winning educator Mickey Smith Jr.

Mickey Smith Jr. is an acclaimed Louisiana educator, author, saxophonist, and self-described “solutionist” who feels a strong calling to help educators and teachers. Mickey, who received the Grammy Music Educator Award in 2020, brings his motivational blend of music and message to this very special episode in which he and Susan Lambert discuss music, perseverance, and finding purpose as educators and human beings. In between interludes of uplifting songs and stories, Mickey shares his proven principles for helping educators create sound connections and culture in today’s classrooms. He also describes his methods for providing all-purpose encouragement and offers a tangible approach to finding one’s own personal mission statements—or, as he likes to call it, our legacy song.

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Season 5, Episode 08. Linguistic structure: English vs. Spanish: Dr. Desirée Pallais-Downing

Dr. Desirée Pallais-Downing is an assistant professor of instruction in the Bilingual/Bicultural Education Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Having lived in Nicaragua, England, the United States, and Spain, she has experienced bilingual learning across four different countries. In this episode, she differentiates between sequential and simultaneous bilingualism, and the importance of assessment in the home and second languages before diving deep into the linguistic structures of Spanish vs. English. She also offers advice for non-Spanish speakers on the best ways to support Spanish speakers.

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Season 5, Episode 07. Unlocking change through literacy legislation: Dr. Kymyona Burk

Dr. Kymyona Burk is Policy Director for Early Literacy at the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd). In this role, she supports states pursuing a comprehensive approach to K–3 reading policy. She joins host Susan Lambert to give listeners a look behind the curtain of the legislative process creating education policy, including writing and passing literacy legislation, the politics of advocating for the Science of Reading within legislation, and what the results look like for states that have this legislation in place.

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Season 5, Episode 06. Why skepticism is essential to the Science of Reading, with Dr. Claude Goldenberg

Claude Goldenberg joined the podcast to introduce what he argues is much-needed skepticism to the conversation of reading science. Goldenberg mentions that while the Science of Reading may be the latest buzzword, reading science is here to stay and, like any other science, will only grow stronger alongside informed critique. He later talks about the foundational skills and what the movement can learn from the failings of Reading First; offers advice for implementation; and ends with a hopeful note, highlighting that all educators can come together around a shared mission to see students succeed.

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Season 5, Episode 05. Implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support with Dr. Brittney Bills

Susan Lambert is joined by Dr. Brittney Bills, educator and recent Science of Reading Star Award Winner to discuss MTSS. Dr. Bills began her journey as a school psychologist for six years before transitioning to the role of curriculum coordinator at Grand Island Public Schools. In this episode, Dr. Bills explains what MTSS is and how it centers on prevention rather than intervention. She talks about the intersection of universal screening data and MTSS and provides advice on evidence-based strategies and techniques to make a positive impact in your classroom. Using examples from her own district, Dr. Bills discusses avoiding burnout, learning to use data and the process of ongoing improvement.

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Season 5, Episode 04. What bilingualism can teach us with Dr. Doris Baker

Joining host Susan Lambert, Dr. Doris Baker speaks from her background researching the academic outcomes of English language learners to discuss ways educators can better engage and support all of their students. Dr. Baker emphasizes how much there is to learn about our native language by learning another language, and the many advantages of bilingualism. She then dives into a conversation around codeswitching and the importance of cultural awareness. Dr. Baker also gives listeners practical advice on how to include English language learners in core instruction and highlights how critical it is to provide students with opportunities to engage in sophisticated and deep conversations. Lastly, Dr. Baker outlines how educators can include parents in their children’s language learning by teaching them how, when, and what to read to their kids—in their native language!

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Season 5, Episode 03. The right assessment and the right data with Dr. Jan Hasbrouck

Today on the podcast, we’re joined by literacy expert Jan Hasbrouck, Ph.D. Dr. Hasbrouck is an education consultant, author, and researcher. She opens the episode talking about her start with literacy, underscoring how she was one of the lucky ones who learned how to teach reading correctly in college. Dr. Hasbrouck also discusses what it’s like to combat skepticism—both of the Science of Reading and the power of assessment. She then goes on to talk about the book she co-authored on student-focused coaching and ends the episode by addressing assessment anxiety directly, including a discussion of where it comes from, the importance of progress monitoring, and more!

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Season 5, Episode 02. Biliteracy and assessment with Dr. Lillian Durán

Susan Lambert joins biliteracy expert and professor Dr. Lillian Durán, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and researches the improvement of instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs). Durán begins by pointing out the difference between being bilingual and biliterate, then describes the key advantages of being bilingual and the unique skills students who speak multiple languages bring to school. She then discusses how the Simple View of Reading connects to Spanish, the double standard often occurring when bilingual students are celebrated vs. when they are not, and the process of screening and assessment for multilingual students. Lastly, Dr. Durán compels educators to avoid viewing biliteracy and dual language support as a sub-population of their classroom and instead prioritize the development of students’ home languages, whatever they may be, alongside English instruction.

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Season 5, Episode 01. The right to read: Lacey Robinson

In this episode, host Susan Lambert is joined by Lacey Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of UnboundEd. Robinson opens the podcast by telling her personal story of learning to read, discussing those who influenced her, and sharing how literacy empowered her to pursue education reform

Robinson emphasizes the responsibility that educational practitioners and leaders have to dismantle and eliminate all barriers to education. She helps to define equity and equitable instruction and describes the literacy experiences of Black students, stressing how an understanding of history is essential to moving forward and not repeating past mistakes. Lastly, Robinson outlines what productive struggle should look like in the classroom, encouraging educators to embrace their students’ local, cultural, linguistic, and historical context to enable more rigorous reading opportunities.

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Season 4, Episode 16. Celebrating changemakers: Science of Reading Star Award winners

In this episode, Susan Lambert sits down with all of our Science of Reading Star Award winners to discuss their journey with the Science of Reading—from the very beginning, to the work they are doing now. Susan is joined by Brittney Bills (Curriculum Coordinator, Grand Island Public Schools, Nebraska) and Alli Rice (Elementary ELA Lead, Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas), who both won our Amplifying Your District award. Susan also talks with Anila Nayak (Instructional Coach and Reading Intervention Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District, California), winner of our Superstar award that celebrates a teacher who has made a direct impact on their students by applying the Science of Reading. Lastly, this episode features Cathy Dorbish (Principal, Austintown Elementary School, Ohio), who won the Standout School award that celebrates educators successfully shifting their school to the Science of Reading. These incredible educators share their stories of driving change, giving listeners inspiration and advice to take back to their own schools and classrooms.

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Season 4, Episode 15. How to motivate middle schoolers: Kamilah Simpson

In this episode, Susan Lambert joins senior product specialist at Amplify, Kamilah Simpson. Kamilah’s roots in education took shape when she was a Title 1 middle school intensive reading teacher and from there she became an instructional coach. Kamilah shares her knowledge with podcast listeners as she dives into teaching reading to middle school students. She gives tangible advice on how to allow for productive struggle so that students can learn through discovery. Some of the topics Kamilah highlights include complex text and rigor, learning to scaffold, the importance of having students listen to text, incorporating writing practice, and supporting students without over-supporting. Finally, Kamilah stresses the importance of motivating middle school students to read by providing texts that they can see themselves and their world in.

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Season 4, Episode 14. What it takes to be a literacy education changemaker: Kareem Weaver

In this episode, Susan Lambert sits down with Kareem Weaver to discuss change management for educators implementing the Science of Reading. Kareem Weaver is a member of the Oakland NAACP Education Committee and a leader of the organization Full and Complete Reading is a Universal Mandate (FULCRUM). He was also an award-winning teacher and administrator in Oakland, California, and Columbia, South Carolina. Kareem discusses what the Science of Reading is at the simplest level and why it’s important that educators are undivided in backing the research. He goes on to give an impassioned plea to educators to come together because this is an issue that impacts all kids. Kareem also highlights the importance of meeting educators where they are and realizing that change cannot happen if teachers aren’t given the tools and support they need first. Lastly, Kareem calls for systemic changes to education so that teachers can do their jobs in a way that is balanced, sustainable, and ultimately benefits the students.

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Season 4, Episode 13. Revisiting a conversation with Dr. Nancy Nelson

In this episode, we join Susan Lambert as she revisits a conversation she had during season 1 with Dr. Nancy Nelson, a research assistant professor at the Center on Teaching and Learning at the University of Oregon. They discuss myths and misconceptions around Response to Intervention (RTI), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and universal screening in reading instruction. Dr. Nelson also describes her work on DIBELS® and explains the importance of dyslexia screeners and what tools need to be in place for RTI to work well.

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Season 4, Episode 12. A conversation on growing up with dyslexia with 10th grader Hadyn Fleming

In this episode, we join Susan Lambert as she talks to 10th grader Hadyn Fleming about his experiences growing up with dyslexia. Hadyn shares his story of moving around a lot and what it took in his educational journey to feel like he had the tools and resources to be successful. Hadyn openly discusses the experiences that made a difference in his life and candidly discloses what it really feels like to have dyslexia. He also shares the way that dyslexia impacts all facets of education and, conversely, how becoming a confident reader gave him increased confidence in other areas of his life. Lastly, Hadyn helps debunk dyslexia myths, and talks about how an educator’s belief in their students’ potential is essential to student success.

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Season 4, Episode 11. Building resilience through routine, relationships, and regulation in the classroom: Ricky Robinson

In this episode, we join Susan Lambert as she talks to Ricky Robertson about building systems of support for students impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the educators who work with them. Ricky is an educator, author, and consultant who has worked with alternative and traditional schools. The episode focuses first on how teachers can prioritize their own self-care and why it is essential in order to care for students. Ricky then goes into explaining what ACEs are and the ways that fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses can manifest in the classroom. Lastly, they go into explaining resilience and how routine and relationships help build a foundation for resilience—ending on a note of encouragement to educators that their investment is never wasted.

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Season 4, Episode 10. What we’ve learned and the guests we’re grateful for

In this episode, we join Susan Lambert as she rewinds the tape and highlights some of the standout learning moments that have occurred throughout this season of the podcast. Guests like Sue Pimentel, Julie Washington, Nadine Gaab, and more have all taught us invaluable lessons about the Science of Reading. You’ll hear top takeaways from each of their episodes as they cover topics such as literacy accelerators, learning to read digitally versus in print, teaching reading to multi-language learners, dialectical variety, and so much more.

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Season 4, Episode 9. Dyslexia and developmental trajectories: Dr. Nadine Gaab

In this episode, Susan Lambert joins Dr. Nadine Gaab to discuss dyslexia and the developmental progression of the brain and behavior of students as they learn to read. Dr. Nadine Gaab is an Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education whose work focuses on typical/atypical learning trajectories from infancy to adulthood, with a special emphasis on language and reading development and the role of the environment in shaping these trajectories. In this episode, Dr. Gaab provides further insight into these developmental trajectories as they relate to early intervention for at-risk students. She differentiates between early diagnosis of dyslexia versus early identification of at-risk students. Adding nuance and complexity to the discussion of dyslexia, Dr. Gaab emphasizes the ways educators can ensure that all students experience the joy of learning to read.

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Season 4, Episode 8. Empowering multilingual learners: Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan

In this episode, Susan Lambert is joined by Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities presented when teaching multilingual learners how to read. Dr. Cárdenas-Hagan is a bilingual speech language pathologist and a certified academic language therapist. She is also the director of Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville, Texas. She discusses how teachers can make connections between students’ home languages and English in order to celebrate their language and give them new tools to better understand English. She stresses the importance of teachers educating themselves on their students’ home languages so they can spot orthographic and phonological similarities and differences. Lastly, she highlights the importance of educators collaborating for the success of the students.

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Season 4, Episode 7. Linguistic Variety and Dialects: Difference, not error with Julie Washington

In this episode, Susan Lambert is joined by Dr. Julie Washington to discuss linguistic variety and dialects as difference, not error, and how to best support all students as they learn to read. Dr. Washington, professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and a speech-language pathologist, offers practical advice for educators teaching reading to children who don’t use general American English and discusses how to do so in a way that respects students’ community languages and dialects. She reminds educators that students rise or fall to the expectations set for them, and encourages educators to remember that if they embrace language variety as something that needs to be understood and incorporated into developing successful readers, they will develop successful readers.

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Season 4, Episode 6. Educator voices: Personal journeys through the Science of Reading 

In this episode, Susan Lambert joins elementary educator Lindsey Kemeny for a conversation about her journey of discovery with the Science of Reading. A current second grade teacher with ten years of experience in elementary education, Lindsey Kemeny has been published in the Reading League Journal and spoken alongside literacy experts like Emily Hanford. In this episode, Lindsey discusses how she processed her shock and guilt at realizing she’d never been taught how to properly teach reading. She also discusses the journey she took as a mother and an educator when her son was diagnosed with severe dyslexia alongside depression, and how that inspired her to dive into what is needed for good literacy instruction and what students with learning disabilities need. Listeners will also hear stories from additional educators from across the country about how the Science of Reading has transformed their classrooms.

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Season 4, Episode 5. Reading as Liberation: Sue Pimentel

In this episode, Sue Pimentel—co-founder of the nonprofit StandardWorks, founding partner of Student Achievement Partners, and lead author of the Common Core State Standards for ELA—joins Susan Lambert to discuss her new report “Reading as Liberation—An Examination of the Research Base.” Sharing key insights, she expands on her findings about personalization, literacy accelerators, and implementation, as well as how mutual respect between student and teacher is key to reading success.

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Season 4, Episode 4. Learning to Read Digitally vs. in Print: Dr. Lauren Trakhman & Dr. Patricia Alexander

In this episode, Susan Lambert sits down with Lauren Trakhman and Patricia Alexander, professors from the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology within the College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park, to discuss their research on the effectiveness of teaching reading in print vs. digitally. Their conversation explores the ways in which teaching reading in print remains vital even in a digital world. Drs. Trakhman and Alexander also explain why it’s important to avoid making assumptions about students’ abilities to use technology and how that can be a detriment to reading success. Lastly, they discuss strategies for using technology to boost children’s foundational skills.

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Season 4, Episode 3: Learning disabilities and their emotional impact: Dr. Sheila Clonan

This episode features Dr. Sheila Clonan discussing her work with identifying learning disabilities (particularly dyslexia) in children. Dr. Clonan also explores the mental and emotional effects of learning to read with dyslexia and how it impacts behavior and self-concept, providing two insightful analogies that illustrate what it feels like for students who aren’t given explicit instruction but are still expected to know how to read. She then ends the episode with practical advice for educators and parents on how to support and encourage children.

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Season 4, Episode 2: Ensuring literacy success for all: Dr. Tracy Weeden

Dr. Tracy Weeden, CEO and President of the Neuhaus Education Center, joins host Susan Lambert to discuss ensuring literacy success for all. She shares what it means to be a literacy ally, what the ‘COVID Chrysalis’ is, and how teachers need to bridge the gap between the language students learn in school and the language they bring from home.

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Season 4, Episode 1: Applying the Science of Reading at any grade level: Laura Cusack

Kicking off our new season, Susan Lambert hosts this special episode with Laura Cusack, Executive Director of K–8 ELA Strategy at Amplify. This dynamic duo sheds light on the pandemic’s effects on literacy achievement and strategizes how to make up for lost foundational skills while keeping students moving forward in grade-level learning. They also urge educators to make it a point to honor the diverse experience of their students during reading instruction.

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Season 3, Episode 13. Deconstructing the Rope: A look back at Season 3

Join your host, Susan Lambert, as she recaps Deconstructing the Rope, our series for season 3 of Science of Reading: The Podcast. She highlights the special guests we’ve had this season such as Louisa Moats, Bruce McCandliss, and Sonia Cabell and shares their expert insights on Scarborough’s Reading Rope. From vocabulary to word and sight recognition, tune into this special episode and cement this knowledge in your Science of Reading journey.

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Season 3, Episode 12.

Fostering accessible instruction for all: DeJunne’ Clark Jackson

Join DeJunne’ Clark Jackson, Vice President of Program Development for the Center for Development and Learning, as she discusses how to provide all students with equal access to high-quality reading instruction. She urges listeners to see each student as an individual in order to assess accurately and provide the most effective kind of instruction. Finally, she speaks to the connection between the Science of Reading and dyslexia and leaves us with an anecdote on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Season 3, Episode 11.

Continuously Improving Literacy Instruction: Alana Mangham

Join Alana Mangham, literacy specialist for the Center for Development and Learning, as she shares her pathway from educator to changemaker in the Science of Reading field. She’ll also highlight her successful four-part literacy plan and urge you to question your instructional practices to better foster reading achievement in children today.

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Season 3, Episode 10.

Deconstructing the Rope: Language structures with Kate Cain

Join Kate Cain, professor of language and literacy at Lancaster University, as she unwinds language structures, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the latest episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Kate explores language structures in the simple view of reading and explains its connections across reading comprehension in literacy development. She also highlights the reciprocal relationship between books and conversation and underscores the importance of reading aloud to children from a young age to develop their vocabulary and semantics.

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Season 3, Episode 9.

Deconstructing the Rope: Vocabulary with Nancy Hennessy

Join Nancy Hennessy, past president of the International Dyslexia Association, as she unwinds vocabulary, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the latest episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Nancy defines the role of vocabulary and elaborates on the nuanced structures of comprehension in literacy instruction. She also highlights how to explicitly teach vocabulary to students through her research-backed, four-pronged approach.

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Season 3, Episode 8.

Deconstructing the Rope: Language comprehension with Sonia Cabell

Join Sonia Cabell, assistant professor at the School of Teacher Education at Florida State University, in the latest episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series as she unwinds language comprehension, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. Sonia explains the true definition of language comprehension in relation to the simple view of reading and highlights the role of parents and educators in the use of advanced language models in literacy development. She also reflects on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teachers and families and discusses how it has highlighted the importance of education today.

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Season 3, Episode 7.

A Defining Movement: The Reading League on the science of reading

In this special episode, Dr. Maria Murray, President and CEO of The Reading League, analyzes the intricacies of literacy instruction and shares common misconceptions that educators have about the science of reading. She explains why The Science of Reading: A Defining Movement coalition was founded: the belief of clear understandings of what the science of reading is and what it is not to promote the proper use of instructional practices aligned with the findings from the science of reading.

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Season 3, Episode 6.

Deconstructing the Rope: Background knowledge with Susan Neuman

Join Susan Neuman, Professor of Childhood and Literacy Education at the Steinhardt School at New York University, as she unwinds background knowledge, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the sixth episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Susan explains the important link between background knowledge and reading comprehension in the science of reading and shares insights about her five research-based principles to build knowledge networks in literacy instruction. She also highlights the connection between speech and reading and previews her upcoming studies on the role of cross-media connections in children’s learning.

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Season 3, Episode 5. Deconstructing the Rope: Sight recognition with Dr. Bruce McCandliss

Join Dr. Bruce McCandliss, Professor at the Graduate School of Education of Stanford University, as he unwinds sight recognition, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the fifth episode of our series, Bruce explains the role of sight and word recognition in the science of reading and highlights the importance of the rapid integration of print, speech, and meaning. He also encourages listeners to be cognizant of the ever-changing, technological learning environment while nurturing young readers and writers.

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Season 3, Episode 4. Plain Talk: Making the Shift to the Science of Reading in Your District

Join leading experts Natalie Wexler, Ernesto Ortiz, Dr. Carolyn Strom, and Susan Lambert for a podcast on making the shift to the science of reading. In this special episode, they discuss how educators can implement the science of reading through an incremental change on all levels, from a classroom to entire districts. Sharing their research and both professional and personal experiences, the panelists share the leadership knowledge, training, and curriculum advice you’ve been looking for. 

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Season 3, Episode 3. Deconstructing the Rope: Decoding with Dr. Louisa Moats

Join Dr. Louisa Moats, President of Moats Associates Consulting, as she unwinds decoding, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the third episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Louisa highlights the significance of decoding in the science of reading and discusses the value of becoming students of our own language. She also mentions the reciprocal relationship between decoding and encoding and why both are essential to provide effective phonics instruction to children in the classroom.

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Season 3, Episode 2. Deconstructing the Rope: Word recognition with Alice Wiggins

Join Alice Wiggins, Vice President of Instructional Design & Products at UnboundEd, as she unwinds word recognition, a strand of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. In the second episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series, Alice explains the role of word recognition in the science of reading and highlights the importance of explicit phonics instruction. She also urges listeners to advocate for an aligned curriculum to bring forth a systematic and equitable approach to reading for all students.

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Season 3, Episode 1. Deconstructing the Rope: An introduction with Dr. Jane Oakhill

Dive into our first episode of our Deconstructing the Rope series as Dr. Jane Oakhill, professor of experimental psychology at the University of Sussex, provides an overview of Scarborough’s Reading Rope. She also emphasizes the importance of inferencing in comprehension, why the Simple View of Reading is still relevant almost 40 years later, and how each element of the Rope comes together to deconstruct the complexity of reading.

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Season 2, Episode 9. Unveiling insights from assessment data: Danielle Damico

Join Danielle Damico, Director of Learning Science at Amplify, as she explores the impact of the pandemic on at-risk students and those in need of intervention. She shares the insights drawn from DIBELS® 8th Edition and highlights how data is now more important than ever in understanding where students are—whether assessments are administered in person or through a digital platform. Finally, she leaves our listeners with best practices to nurture readers moving forward and ensure growth and success through the end of the year.

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A headshot of Tim Shanahan

Season 2, Episode 8. Behind the scenes of the National Reading Panel: Tim Shanahan

One of our most popular guests, Tim Shanahan, returns! In our most recent episode, he reminisces about the creation of the National Reading Panel in 1997 and the release of its subsequent groundbreaking report. He highlights how reading instruction has evolved and discusses how new research seems to be changing the landscape of the “reading wars” he thought were settled long ago.

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A headshot of Sonia Cabell

Season 2, Episode 7. Research, comprehension, and content-rich literacy instruction: Sonia Cabell

Join Sonia Cabell, Assistant Professor of Education at Florida State University, as she shares findings from her research trials on content-rich literacy curricula and whether activating students’ background knowledge alongside explicit phonics instruction is more effective than traditional approaches. She also explains what constitutes “compelling evidence” in the science of reading and why students need to interact with both written and spoken language while learning to read.

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A headshot of Kelly Moran

Season 2, Episode 6. Fostering growth and instructional change

Join Kelly Moran, Curriculum Supervisor of Chardon Local Schools in Ohio, as she shares her journey of implementing a curriculum based around the science of reading. Hear about the steps her district took to reshape literacy instructional practices and about the challenges they faced along the way. Find out how the fostering of reading achievement in students renders all efforts worthwhile.

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A headshot of Margaret GoldbergA headshot of Alanna Mednick

Season 2, Episode 5. The Right to Read Project on nurturing automatic readers: Margaret Goldberg and Alanna Mednick

Join Margaret Goldberg and Alanna Mednick from the Right to Read Project as they address the science of reading and its translation into easy practice for educators. They break down the Seidenberg and McClelland Four-Part Processing Model and explain how it relates to the simple view of reading. They also reflect on how educators should approach reading as scientists and be ready to teach in a way that may be uncomfortable for a time—the “labor of love” stage of literacy instruction.

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A headshot Afrika Afeni Mills

Season 2, Episode 4. Telling the fuller story: Afrika Afeni Mills

Join Afrika Afeni Mills—Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director of BetterLesson—as she reflects on race, culture, and identity in education. She’ll shed light on the significance of integrating students’ schemas to nurture language comprehension in early literacy, discuss the difference between asset- and deficit-based teaching, and highlight the impact “windows and mirrors” have on students’ classroom experiences.

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A headshot of Maria Murray
A headshot of Pamela Snow

Season 2, Episode 3. The Reading League and the science of reading: Maria Murray and Pamela Snow

In our first international episode, join The Reading League CEO and President Maria Murray and La Trobe University Professor of Cognitive Psychology Pamela Snow as they reflect on the long history of the science of reading. They’ll explain the true definition of “the science of reading” and explore why this knowledge has not been translated for the practitioners that need it the most—teachers. Our guests will also discuss the pandemic’s silver lining if that’s possible: the opportunity to reflect on instructional practices and how to best support educators and students now, and in the future. Listen here!

A headshot of Tamara Morris
A headshot of Justin Pita

Season 2, Episode 2. Reflecting on past literacy experiences: Justin Pita and Tamara Morris

Join Amplify interns Justin Pita, undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tamara Morris, alumna of Stanford University, as they share their reading journeys. They highlight the major disparities and barriers that affected their academic experiences. They also reflect on how action must be taken by caregivers and educators to ensure that all students have access to equal opportunities for achievement in literacy, so that no student gets left behind. Listen here!

A headshot of Dr. LaTonya Goffney  

Season 2, Episode 1. Confronting the data: Dr. LaTonya Goffney
Join Dr. LaTonya Goffney, Superintendent of Schools for Aldine Independent School District in Texas, as she recounts her two-year journey with her team of district educators to adopt a new early literacy curriculum. Hear how they successfully challenged the traditional adoption process, studied the science of teaching reading, analyzed student data and experiences, and developed a district-wide set of beliefs and expectations.  Listen here!

A headshot of Susan Lambert  

28. A look back at Season One
Join us in reflecting on Season One and preview what’s in store for an exciting Season Two. In this special episode, we visit the highlights of Season One, with key clips from Emily Hanford, Natalie Wexler, Ernesto Ortiz, David and Meredith Liben, Shawn Joseph, and other moments that inspired us and changed how we think about literacy. Listen here!

A headshot of Dr. Catherine Barnes  

27. A conversation with Catherine Barnes
Join Dr. Catherine Barnes, CEO of Sudden Impact Solutions and leader of the Black Parents Support Networkas she addresses the shortcomings of the educational system during the pandemic in underserved communities, the need for overcoming parents’ perceptions of judgment by educators, and how educators can foster relationships with parents in order to ensure continuous learning for students during these trying times. Listen here!

A headshot of Daniel Willingham  

26. A conversation with Daniel Willingham
Author and University of Virginia psychology professor Daniel Willingham discusses the “reading wars” (and mischaracterizations among their factions), the importance of understanding basic science to teach reading, and the variations in the implementation of the science of reading in literacy instruction across districts. Listen here!

A headshot of Doug Lemov  

25. A conversation with Doug Lemov
Doug Lemov, author and managing director of Uncommon Schools, discusses the role of technology in the classroom and remote instruction, how educators should reconsider how they approach literacy, and his experience reconstructing a reading curriculum for this next phase of digital learning while holding true to the values of the science of reading. Listen here!

A headshot of Shawn Joseph  

24. A conversation with Shawn Joseph
Educator, author, and leader Shawn Joseph, shares his passion for justice and discusses his work advocating for equity in education, shedding light on what he calls the “silent crisis” in literacy instruction. In this episode, you’ll hear about his experience as a former superintendent of several large urban districts and learn how he fostered achievement in all of his students. Listen here!

A headshot of Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas  

23. A conversation with Elizabeth Salinas
Elizabeth Jiménez Salinas and host Susan Lambert discuss advocating for underrepresented ELs, improving dual language instruction, and learned passivity. She shares tips for ELs during this time and reinforces the importance of home connection and language development. Listen here!

A headshot of Mary Clayman  

22. A conversation with Mary Clayman
Join Mary Clayman, Director of the District of Columbia Reading Clinic, and host Susan Lambert, as Mary shares her experience founding one of the first graduate clinical practicums sponsored by a public school system and discusses how it has influenced the training of DCPS teachers and the success of students in early literacy by using the science of reading. Listen here!

A headshot of Jaquey Barber  

21. A conversation with Jacquey Barber
Jacquey Barber, director of design & development at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. Jacquey examines her research on which instructional approach is most impactful for teaching scientific phenomena, the symbiotic relationship between literacy and science, and what educators should be looking for in high-quality science curricula. Listen here!

A headshot of David LibenA headshot of Meredith Liben  

20. A conversation with David & Meredeth Liben
David and Meredith Liben, nationally recognized reading experts and authors of Know Better, Do Better discuss their need to find evidence-based solutions, the importance of knowledge and skills instruction, and how to tackle unfinished learning in schools. Listen here!

A headshot of Laurence Holt  

19. A conversation with Laurence Holt
Laurence Holt, author of the Learning to Read Primers and language acquisition expert, and host Susan Lambert discuss the Simple View of Reading, how the brain rewires itself to learn how to read, and the importance of background knowledge as it relates to language comprehension. Listen here!

A headshot of Larry Berger  

18. A conversation with Larry Berger
Larry Berger, CEO of Amplify, discusses the use of innovation and technology to inform teaching and learning, his new initiative called Wide Open School, and how we can step back and let this be a time of joy and creativity for kids––letting them discover a love of reading. Listen here!

A headshot of Dr. Elfrieda "Freddy" Hiebert  

17. A conversation with Freddy Hiebert
Dr. Elfrieda “Freddy” Hiebert, author and founder of the Text Project, shares insights from her research on vocabulary, the etymology of the English language, and the importance of teaching morphology to enable kids to make connections. Listen here!

A headshot of Jared Myracle  

16. A conversation with Jared Myracle
Jared Myracle, Chief Academic Officer of the Jackson-Madison County School System in Tennessee, shares his district’s experience in adopting the science of reading and navigating the change management process. He stresses the importance of high-quality instructional materials and implementation fidelity. Listen here!

A headshot of Ernesto Ortiz  

15. Special Edition: A conversation with Ernesto Ortiz
Ernesto Ortiz, principal at an elementary school in Pennsylvania, discusses how to understand when materials are meaningfully “research-based”, how his school made the shift to the science of reading, and how he is supporting his students with remote learning resources to continue their literacy development at home. Listen here!

A headshot of David Steiner

14. Special Edition: A conversation with David Steiner
David Steiner, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins University, and Susan examine how school closures are impacting learning across the nation, how districts are responding to the rapidly-changing environment, and why maximizing our educational reach via technology should be a priority. Listen here!

A headshot of Susan Lambert  

13. A conversation about remote learning:
We’ve been thinking a lot about you–and our hearts go out to you during this confusing and uncertain time. Helping our students continue to learn in this unusual and unsettling situation is not easy. And here at the Science of Reading podcast, we want to do what we can to support you where we can. Listen here!

A headshot of Dr. Bruce McCandliss  

12. A conversation with Dr. Bruce McCandliss:
Susan and Dr. Bruce McCandliss, professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, chat about combining neuroscience with education. How does neuroscience help us understand the changes going on in the brain of a child learning to read? Why do some children struggle so profoundly? He shares his research into focusing students’ attention on letters and sounds versus on whole words. Listen here!

A headshot of Jasmine Lane  

11. A conversation with Jasmine Lane:
Jasmine Lane, a high school English teacher, discusses the importance of equity in education and the disconnect between how teachers feel and what they need to do to push education forward for all students, regardless of background. She also shares how education has changed her life, how early literacy teachers made a difference for her students, and how high schoolers fill in the gaps left by things they missed early on. Listen here!


A headshot of Dr. Nancy Nelson  

10. A conversation with Dr. Nancy Nelson:

Nancy Nelson, Research Assistant Professor at the Center on Teaching and Learning at the University of Oregon, discusses myths and misconceptions around RTI, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and universal screening in reading instruction. She describes her work on DIBELS®, the importance of dyslexia screeners, and the tools that need to be in place for RTI to work well. Listen here!



A headshot of Dr. Carolyn Strom  

9. A conversation with Dr. Carolyn Strom:

Dr. Carolyn Strom, Professor of Early Childhood Literacy and Innovation at NYU, discusses the cognitive science behind early reading. She shares her insights on the importance of neuroscience, equitable teaching/pedagogy, and dives into research Linnea Ehri’s four phases of learning how to read. Listen here!


 A headshot of Tim Shanahan  


8. A conversation with Tim Shanahan:

Reading expert Tim Shanahan discusses his view on the teaching of reading. What are the four crucial things you need to teach reading? What does it mean to really do a “close read” in literature? Listen here!

 A headshot of Anne Lucas  


7. A conversation with Anne Lucas:

What is the missing link in reading comprehension? Anne Lucas, former curriculum director and current product manager of Amplify Reading, discusses the multifaceted nature of comprehension, why it’s so difficult to teach, a teacher’s powerful “eureka! moment,” and specific skills which, if practiced, are shown to boost comprehension. Listen here!

 A headshot of Emily Lutrick  


6. A conversation with Emily Lutrick:

Emily Lutrick, the PreK–5 Curriculum and Dyslexia Coordinator of a Texas district, examines the facts and myths of dyslexia, how early is “too early” to screen for dyslexia, and how to identify the signs and risk factors. Listen here!

A headshot of Lois Letchford  

5. A conversation with Lois Letchford:

Lois Letchford, author of Reversed: A Memoir, shares personal accounts of her son’s struggles with learning how to read in school with dyslexia. After being told by a teacher that her son was “the worst child [she’s] ever seen in [her] 25 years of teaching,” she persisted with endless patience to help her son and began writing poems to pique his interest in reading. Where is he now? Was she successful? Listen here!

A headshot of Tim Rasinski  

4. A conversation with Tim Rasinski: Susan and Tim Rasinski, coauthor of The Megabook of Fluency: Strategies and Texts to Engage All Readers, discuss his work at the reading clinic at Kent State University, the aspects of good fluency instruction, what constitutes fluency, and how reading speed is correlated to word recognition and automaticity. He stresses the importance of fluency and finding ways to be artful while teaching reading. Listen here!

A headshot of Emily Hanford  

3. A conversation with Emily Hanford: Susan sits down with Emily Hanford, education reporter and host of the Education Post podcast, and examines the big takeaways from her experience reporting on dyslexia, the patterns that emerged in her investigation, why reading instruction isn’t more aligned with the science of reading, and the evolution of whole language, balanced literacy, and phonics instruction. Listen here!

A headshot of Robert Pondiscio  

2. A conversation with Robert Pondiscio: Robert Podiscio, author of How The Other Half Learns: Equality, Excellence, and the Battle Over School Choice, shares what inspired him to embark upon his esteemed career path and how we must acknowledge and address that children come to school from different places and backgrounds. Susan and Robert discuss the latest in education reform, the knowledge gap, how it is only going to get larger as kids move through grades, the limited time we have to correct it, and how to start doing so.

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A headshot of Natalie Wexler  

1. A conversation with Natalie Wexler: Susan and Natalie dive into her latest book, The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System—And How to Fix It, and discuss the lack of equity in reading education among students, the benefits of knowledge-rich curriculum inside and beyond the classroom, why it’s important to build background knowledge while teaching foundational skills, and why professional development doesn’t seem to be making a difference and how it can be improved. Listen here!

A headshot of Susan Lambert  

0. About Science of Reading: The Podcast: Welcome to Science of Reading: The Podcast! We bring educators and parents the latest insights from researchers and practitioners in early reading. We believe equity in education begins with reading science. Listen here!