Stop the Nonsense (Words)
Let's get the main idea of this blog post out of the way early. Nonsense words should not be used for decoding instruction. Period. No how. Not ever.
A while back, I wrote a post that argued that the commonly used early literacy assessment called DIBELs, led to poor literacy instruction because it focused on the bits and pieces of literacy learning rather than looking at the big picture. Paraphrasing literacy luminary, P. David Pearson, I wrote, "the widespread employment of DIBELS has had dire consequences on the actual teaching of reading."
Like many early literacy assessments, DIBELs uses nonsense words to assess student ability to decode. This is a well-validated practice and can provide useful information for diagnostic purposes. But diagnosis is not treatment and nonsense words should never be used for instruction. When a doctor suspects a broken bone, that doctor will often order an X-Ray. If the X-Ray shows a broken bone, the doctor treats the bone with a cast, a wrap or surgery, not with another X-Ray. So it is with nonsense words - they point to a problem, but are not to be used to treat the problem.
Because learning to read is an act of communication and communication Russ on Reading: Stop the Nonsense (Words):