Skip to main content

Wiring the Brain for Reading : Brain-Based Strategies for Teaching Literacy



Wiring the Brain for Reading : Brain-Based Strategies for Teaching Literacy

Marilee B. Sprenger

ISBN: 978-0-470-58721-8 April 2013 Jossey-Bass 224 Pages


Using the latest neuroscience research to enhance literacy instruction

Wiring the Brain for Reading introduces teachers to aspects of the brain's functions that are essential to language and reading development. Marilee Sprenger, a specialist in learning and the brain, provides practical, brain friendly, strategies for teaching essential skills like phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The author's innovative approach aligns well with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and is designed to enhance students' motivation and excitement in reading.

  • Offers a clear explanation of brain functioning in order to enhance language and reading instruction
  • Incorporates proven literacy strategies, games, and activities as well as classroom examples
  • Aligns with Common Core State Standards for learning to read, developing fluency, and interpreting complex texts

Wiring the Brain for Reading offers practical strategies for applying the latest research in neuroscience and learning to the classroom.

Acknowledgments ix

About the Author xi

About the Book xiii

CHAPTER 1 Language Development 1

From Neural Sensitivity to Neural Commitment 2

The Right Way to Babble 4

Encouraging Speech 5

Windows of Opportunity 8

Experience and Brain Development 9

Ages and Stages in Language Development 11

An Enriched Environment for Language Development 13

Language and Gender 16

Speaking Out of Both Sides of the Brain 18

Activities 20

Summary 23

CHAPTER 2 Imaging and Imagining the Brain 25

The Structure of the Brain 26

How We See the Brain 29

Brain Cells 32

How Cells Communicate 35

What We Thought We Knew 37

What We Found Out Along the Way 38

Two Diverging Roads 40

Learning and Memory: A Definition 43

Summary 46

CHAPTER 3 The Body-Brain Connection 47

Food, Glorious Food! 48

The Learning Brain’s Diet 54

To Sleep; Perchance to Remember 57

Making the Right Moves 62

Sunshine Came Softly Through My Window 64

Brain-Body Basics 65

Stress Can Hurt the Body and the Brain 68

What Does Bullying Do to the Brain? 71

Summary 72

CHAPTER 4 Breaking the Code 75

Phonemic Awareness 78

The ABCs of the ABCs 82

Mirror, Mirror 82

Neurons That Fire Together 83

Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose? 84

Getting to the Core 85

Teaching Phonemic Awareness 87

Activities 87

Summary 95

CHAPTER 5 Patterns and Programs and Phonics! Oh, My! 97

Patterns and Programs 98

The Alphabetic Principle 102

One to One? Not Exactly 103

The Common Core: Where Do We Stand with the Standards? 103

Decoding Development in the Brain 104

Phonics Instruction 107

Factors That Lead to Learning 108

Eenie, Meenie, Minee, Moe. Or Is It Eeny, Meany, Miny, Mo? 109

Activities 111

Summary 113

CHAPTER 6 The Fluent Reader 115

What Fluency Means 117

The Brain’s Pathway to Fluency 119

Reading Is Pleasure 120

High-Frequency and Sight Words 121

Some Steps to Fluency 122

Activities 125

Summary 127

CHAPTER 7 Building Vocabulary 129

Two Types of Vocabulary 130

Vocabulary Development 131

The Common Core State Standards and Vocabulary 132

The Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 134

Choosing Our Words Carefully 135

Activities 139

Summary 143

CHAPTER 8 Comprehension 145

Modeling Comprehension 147

Comprehension Strategies 149

Before, During, and After Reading: What These Strategies Have to Do with the Brain 158

Activities 161

Summary 186

CHAPTER 9 Putting It All Together 187

For Parents 187

For Teachers 188

Keep Learning About the Brain 189

References 191

Index 201