The Brain is the Ultimate Pattern-Making Machine!
In a previous post, I explained how to get the most brain-BANG for the buck when using Secret Stories® to sound-out unknown words and help learners to “think through” or pattern-out the most likely sound options. While that post focused on how to think like a doctor, this post will focus on why!
Patterning IS Thinking
It means that regardless of students’ personal strengths or weaknesses, inclinations or academic interests, teaching them how to pattern-out new information makes them better thinkers … and more intelligent! That’s right! The research shows that by helping learners to foster new connections, we have the power to increase physical brain mass, maximizing learner-potential and better preparing them for future learning!
It also means that kindergarten teachers can’t just say that the letter T will say “tuh” and then pretend to ignore the fact that it almost never actually does when kids see it in real words (i.e. this, they, them, those, them, that, there, those, etc… outnumber words like turtle and Toronto 10 to 1!) versus ignore all of the times that it doesn’t (i.e. the, this, they, those, them, then, than, these, etc…)
The Brain is a “Pattern-Making” Machine!
Effective instruction should align with the brain’s natural learning process, not against it, and this can be extremely difficult when teaching letter sounds and phonics. Teaching phonics is not intuitive, and most teachers in early classrooms today have received little to no training on how to do it effectively. So how does one teach something that doesn’t seem to make sense in a way that actually makes sense? They know the Secrets, of course!
Secret Stories® is not like traditional phonics, nor is it like any phonics program. The Secrets simply put meaning where there would otherwise be none, and thereby shifting instruction from brain antagonistic to brain compatible. Secrets empower teachers to break down the grade level walls of traditional phonics skill introduction that limit early learner-access to the code (and what are often letters’ most likely sounds!)
|Breaking Down the Grade Level Walls that Limit Early Learner Access to the Code|
The ability to classify incoming information quickly into categories (based on patterns that we know) means that the brain can use easier rules to deal with the new input, which is less stressful than always having to deal with things that haven’t been seen before.
In other words, our brains are hardwired to look for patterns, and the Secrets are patterns— not abstract letter patterns, but patterns of behavior that are designed to mimic learners’ own behavior. Knowing these patterns (i.e. Secrets) equips learners to more easily deal with new information (i.e. unfamiliar words) and better identify the best course of action (most and next most likely sound options to try). In contrast, inexperienced early grade and struggling upper grade readers who don’t know the Secrets must constantly deal with things (i.e. words, phonics patterns) they have never seen before, and are usually told, “It just is… It just does… You just have to remember….” when they can’t read or spell a word.