Of Dog Ears and Hyperlinks
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Of Dog Ears and Hyperlinks
Literacy Instruction for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Susan R. Easterbrooks and Jennifer Beal-Alvarez. Oxford Univ. Press, 2013. 288 pp. $42.50 (paperback).

How do you prefer to read academic books? With a tablet and online access? Or do you prefer to unplug from technology, and read with a paper or hardback copy in your hand? When I read my paperback copy of Literacy Instruction for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I found myself needing two versions, one digital and one paper, to fully process this book at the level it deserved. I dog-eared at least half of the first 50 pages because they had something interesting that I wanted to come back to. Yet the authors also include many web-based citations of resources and places to go to online for more information. My paperback didn’t respond well to the point-and-click motion my finger instinctively wanted to make to follow the hyperlinks. In this case, it seems that technology has expanded our options in the content of what we read but also in how we read. Luckily for this reader, both an e-book and a paperback version of Literacy Instruction are available.

Regardless of how you read, and what you want to read for, I strongly encourage you to consider reading Literacy Instruction. The content of this volume appropriately addresses the complexity of learning to read, and by extension, of teaching students how to read. The authors largely leave open the discussion of whether the teaching and learning process is unique for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and instead focus specifically on the evidence base for a wide variety of approaches, curricula, and practices. Literacy Instruction covers a lot of ground in less than 300 pages, for which the authors are to be commended. Even if you might be tempted to skip to one section, such as chapter 6, “Grammar and Text Comprehension,” I would advise you to at least skim the entire text once before carefully attending to a smaller piece. The chapters are not completely independent from one another, and I found myself appreciating the value of the volume as a whole.

The remainder of this review offers points for the reader to consider and to reflect upon when thinking about literacy instruction as it is discussed in this book. I cover three main themes: (a) evidence-based practice as the entry point for the book; (b) perspectives of “experts” versus “novice” readers; and (c) the role of visual illustrations.

Evidence-Based Practice as Entry Point

There are many different ways to “begin” a book, and the choices that are made reflect the goals of the volume and the tone the authors choose to convey. Easterbrooks and Beal-Alvarez begin Literacy Instruction with a substantive discussion of “evidence,” its types, sources, and degrees of rigor. Yet for literacy instruction for students who are deaf and hard of hearing (the terminology here reflects that used in Literacy Instruction), there are many cases in which causality cannot be drawn from the existing research base. The authors offer five “Causal Factors” that may provide indirect evidence of effectiveness in its stead.

The reader is offered two mnemonics to keep track of the Causal Factors: HOTS and CoVES. HOTS refers to Higher-Order Thinking Skills, such as thinking critically, drawing inferences, and making predictions. If a curriculum or program has been shown to promote HOTS, even if not specifically [End Page 472] with students who are deaf and hard of hearing, the authors would note that as a potential Causal Factor to consider when evaluating the evidence for that program. The CoVES set of Causal Factors is actually four distinct factors: Communication, Visualization, Explicit Instruction, and Scaffolding and Mediation. The Communication Causal Factor recognizes the basic premise that teachers who can communicate with their students will be more successful in their literacy instruction than those who are less proficient in that area. The Visualization Causal Factor focused on how students who are deaf and hard of hearing benefit from programs and strategies that incorporate visual supports, imagery...