Episode 5 - Back to the Classroom with Devin Kearns, PhD


Episode Summary 
Host Danielle Scorrano invites READ listeners to enter the classroom with Devin Kearns, PhD! Dr. Kearns, a former teacher, is an expert in educational research and professor of special education at University of Connecticut. Dr. Kearns shares his expertise about dyslexia, dispels its pervasive myths, and presents research on reading. He explains the necessary components of effective reading interventions and offers examples for classroom application. Drawing on his experience as a professor, Dr. Kearns discusses his passion and experience for preparing teachers by giving them “real tools” to teach reading in their classrooms. Dr. Kearns shares insights from his unique experience engaging with communities of educators, students, parents, researchers, and professors in teacher preparation programs, calling for future collaboration to advocate for students with dyslexia and reading difficulties. 

Top READ Bookmarks
Host Danielle Scorrano's top highlighted takeaways from this episode.

1. There are several pervasive myths about dyslexia that are detrimental to this population of students. Here are the facts dispelling top myths:

  • Dyslexia is a phonological deficit, not a visual processing problem.
  • “Cognitive training” cannot be used to “cure” dyslexia.
  • Data has shown that specific fonts, colors, or lamps are not cures for dyslexia.

“The biggest myth is that dyslexia is a visual processing problem.”

2. High quality reading instruction explicitly teaches students how to link letters with sounds. Students with dyslexia need systematic, explicit instruction in phonics that is sequenced carefully and provides students with extensive practice. 

“There are some students that can learn to read without some phonics instruction, so that may give some people the impression that it is ok not to focus on the phonics instruction and more on the meaning. The problem is, focusing on context clues, sentences, and pictures… doesn’t result in better reading performance. Kids don’t need context clues to learn to read. In fact, it is distracting.”

3. Teachers benefit from real tools, strategies, and routines that effectively contextualizes the research in order to implement high quality reading instruction in their classrooms.

“As a professional, I’ve always wanted real tools that I could use every day to teach my students how to read.”


2019 Fall Community Lecture Presented by Devin Kearns, PhD

Website of Devin Kearns, PhD

University of Connecticut

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.