MKE Influencers: Jake Daggett helps students and parents decode literacy

MKE Influencers: Jake Daggett helps students and parents decode literacy

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Jake Daggett is one of the biggest influencers there is...for the 6-7-year-olds in his first grade classroom at Underwood Elementary School in Wauwatosa.

Daggett speaks passionately about the science of reading, and word decoding, and phonics, and phonemic awareness.

"If I show you, play. If you sound it out…p-l-a-ya." explains Daggett, or Mr. D as he's known to his students. " It's going to sa say playa. But if I know that that sound is 'ay,' then I can say p-l-ay. Play. Then I can change it to an S, it becomes say. I change it to a P, it becomes pay."

These are methods of teaching reading and writing that are designed to work for everyone in class.

"They need to have the exact explicit sound," Daggett said. "So they can sound out every word no matter their background. It's like really cracking a code."

Of course the kids in his class don't need to know all that. They're having fun.

"What I do is I add a motion, and a feeling, and a little sing-songy chant and then it sticks in their brain." said Daggett.

The songs and chants are catchy, you can see some in the YouTube link below, and infectious. No wonder he went viral.

"It exploded from a video of me teaching punctuation." Daggett said of his viral fame. "It just got shared and shared and shared and it's a good combination of the kinesthetic movement that matches the symbol but then also just joy."

The joy is catching. He's got more than 120K followers on Instagram. They are fellow teachers and parents, not looking for the Top Ten Secret Vacation Hotspots or Best Water Bottles for Busy Workers, but for ways to spread literacy. They want to help kids learn to read.

"I'm sharing almost more an approach." said Daggett. "So, it's kind of nice to share the joy is what's contagious about the post. Yes, they're learning about phonics. But there's joy."

It's lead to an online course, a summer teacher professional development course tour, and tons of questions from his followers. 

"That's kind of why I've been so grateful for these platforms and all of you. Because it really is more than just the theatrics and fun. It's evidence-based practice that we need to be trying. We need to at least give it a try."

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