New program to change the way science classes are taught

FLINT TWP. — Why do I have to learn vocabulary in science class?

Carman-Ainsworth middleand high-school students might be asking that question a lot in coming weeks due to a readingimprovement program being introduced into the curriculum.

EBLI, which stands for Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction, will be incorporated in science classrooms for the rest of this school year and beyond, aimed at improving reading levels and standardized test scores, said Steve Tunnicliff, assistant superintendent of schools for instruction.

Twenty-five middle- and high school science teachers and special education co-teachers spent two days in EBLI training in the past two weeks to learn to teach it.

The training was led by Nora Chahbazi, founder of EBLI and the Ounce Of Prevention Reading Center in Flushing. She guided the teachers through exercises in which they learned to sound out big words, break them down by prefix, suffix, root and syllables and spell and define them.

Chahbazi began developing the system 12 years ago when her daughter, who was a good math and science student, struggled with reading. A nurse by training, Chahbazi said she researched reading programs and devised a system that corrected her daughter’s reading problems in three hours. She is now a successful college junior.

Chahbazi’s EBLI system has since helped thousands of people including those with dyslexia or learning disabilities . She’s taught in prisons, halfway houses and other literacy-intervention sites nationwide.

She’s been interviewed on Oprah Radio and keynoted major educational events such as the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals conference.

“I want to teach the world to read. I say that with complete seriousness,’’ Chahbazi said. “I have a passion about literacy that makes me run all over the country.’’

Chahbazi said her reading center sees 15 to 40 students per week ranging in age from preschool to senior citizens who show improved reading skill in as little as two hours of training.

EBLI training is now in 10 to 15 school districts, all by invitation. Chahbazi does not advertise or seek out clients. It’s all by word-of-mouth, she said.

Nora’s program has caught on throughout the state, said Tunnicliff, who was most impressed by reports from C-A staff members who saw tremendous results after taking their own children to Chahbazi’s reading center.

C-A’s science teachers have been trained to work with students on identified ACT words and science content-based words, Tunnicliff said. Because science lessons have some of the most complex words, EBLI was chosen to help students read and comprehend them, while teachers in other disciplines are using different reading improvement strategies, he said. Students can apply EBLI techniques to other subjects and vice versa

Science teachers now have the rest of the school year to familiarize themselves and their students with EBLI, Tunnicliff said.

“We can hit the ground running in September,’’ he said, adding that school officials expect a payoff of improved 8th grade MEAP scores in October and ACT scores next March.

Chahbazi cited studies showing significant gains in MEAP and ACT scores after students learned EBLI. More information can be found on her website at

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