Preschool—Learning ABC’s

When you are ready to teach letter names and sounds to your preschool/kinder students, it is nice if you can post large size letters on the wall so your child can look at them frequently.  Just as when teaching colors and shapes, to make it easier for your child, you should post and teach only one letter-name and letter-sound at a time.  It is very important that you teach the sound of the letter as well as the letter name. This will be very useful when you begin to teach your child to read a bit later on.

SnipBlog105bOne or two letters a week is about the right amount for this age group.  Do not post a new letter until your child knows the previous one, even if it takes more time.  If a young child is not able to learn one letter a week, he is probably not ready for this task.file contains black outline letters that you can print onto colored paper or colored cardstock if you so desire.  To alternate colors, print page one on red, page two on orange, page three on yellow, page four on green, page five on blue; then repeat for the next five pages—and so forth. Cut out the letters so the shape of each one is distinct when placed on a white background.

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Have fun teaching the alphabet and the letter-sounds, and take it nice and slow with your preschoolers!

You can get your FREE printable large size black outline ABC’s here.

Learning to Talk and Learning to Read – Part 2

Learning to read is a process that involves both visual and auditory input.  Children must learn to match symbols to sounds and then connect those symbols to make words.  Some children have difficulty remembering the symbols if too many are taught at once.  Reading can be made easier by teaching only a few sound-symbols at a time and then using them to practice decoding simple words.  Students should practice reading short stories using the same words they are learning to decode.

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Make Your Own Magnetic Letter Tiles

SnipBlog81aA while back I wrote about teaching students how to spell. The easiest way to teach spelling is in connection with reading, so children should be learning to spell the same words they are learning to phonetically decode. Spelling is a lot more fun if you teach it with a hands-on activity. My spelling game includes a list of very simple words for a student who is just beginning to read, but you can adapt it to any phonetically regular spelling list. A side benefit to this game is that your child is also gaining phonemic awareness while playing around with spelling. You can read the blog and get the spelling game here:   http://soundbytesreading.com/spelling-for-beginning-readers-part-3.html

Recently I was channel surfing and ran across a great idea.  The TV channel was ION Life and the program was “She’s Crafty” featuring Wendy Russell (11-14-2013).  I could not find a link to the specific program—but I’ll describe the quick and easy craft project she demonstrated that you can use to make magnetic letter tiles for spelling.

Use the letter tiles from an old Scrabble game for this craft.  Purchase a roll of Roll-N-Cut Flexible Magnet Tape (cost is around $6). It has an adhesive backing so it’s really easy to attach to the letters.  Cut off squares the size of the letter tiles and attach them to the back of the Scrabble letter tiles.  Now you have inexpensive magnetic letters for your kids to play with and learn to spell with (all capital letters).

Put the magnetic letters on the refrigerator and help your kiddos learn to spell while you cook. I’ve included some lists below to get you started. One list is for first graders, the others for second and/or third graders. The target spelling pattern is underlined in the first word in each list. Use whatever works at your child’s spelling level.  Have fun playing around with spelling!

SnipBlog81cSnipBlog81dPrint a PDF copy of the Spelling Word List here:

http://soundbytesreading.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Spelling-Game-Word-Lists.pdf

Is Reading Achievement Improving?

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News reports this month lauded improvements in reading achievement but there has been very little improvement in the eleven years since 2002 as you can see in this graph from the NAEP website:  http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013/#/gains-percentiles

To access reading scores in place of mathematics scores, click on the bar just under the caption, “Are higher and lower performing students making gains?”

READ SnipHere is their explanation of the terms, basic, proficient, and advanced:

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Several years ago in the Introduction to Sound Bytes Reading, I wrote:

 According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 34 % of fourth graders in the USA read at only a basic level and another 34% read below a basic level.  In eighth grade, 43 % read at a basic level and 27% read below a basic level.  Our goal should be for all students to become proficient readers, yet 68% of fourth graders and 70% of eighth graders cannot read at a proficient level.

Recently the following statement about the 2013 Nation’s Report Card was made by the president of The Center for Education Reform, Kara Kerwin:

It’s a disgrace and truly incomprehensible that after decades of mediocrity, we celebrate today the fact that only 34 percent of our nation’s 8th graders can read at grade level and only 34 percent are proficient in math.

http://www.edreform.com/2013/11/cer-statement-on-the-2013-nations-report-card/

Other news sources made these statements:

While overall performance remains poor, this year’s report card does show improvement. Nationally, math scores were higher in 2013 than they have been since 1990 for both grades and for all student demographic groups. What’s more, the percentage of students who scored “advanced” on the tests was higher in 2013 than in any year since 1990.

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/nina-rees/2013/11/11/nations-report-card-shows-progress-in-reading-and-math

The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress from the U.S. Department of Education shows that many high school seniors are graduating unable to read at grade level, and one in four cannot read at even the most basic level.   Just 38 percent of 12th graders were proficient in reading.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/nations-report-card-shows-american-students-struggle-reading/story?id=12186446

In an EdWeek.com article, “NAEP Results Show Math Gains, But 4th Grade Reading Still Flat,” Erik Robelen wrote:

The nation’s 4th and 8th graders have inched up in mathematics, new test data show, but the results are more mixed in reading, with 4th grade scores flat compared with two years ago.  Overall, achieving proficiency in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as “the nation’s report card,” remains an elusive goal for the majority of American students. Only about one-third reached that level or higher in reading.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/11/09/11naep-2.h31.html

The 2013 Nation’s Report Card can be seen here:

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/publications/main2013/pdf/2014451.pdf

Have we really improved reading achievement?  Not much.  But we could improve a lot more if we followed the guidelines outlined in the April 2000 “Report of the National Reading Panel.” They outlined what a good reading program should include:  Phonemic Awareness instruction, Systematic Phonics Instruction, Vocabulary Instruction, Guided Oral Reading, Independent Reading, Fluency Instruction, and Comprehension Instruction.

http://www.nationalreadingpanel.org/publications/summary.htm

The components of a good reading program should not be taught in isolation.  Children who are learning to read should be learning the sounds of the letters, decode words using those same letter-sounds, and read a story using the words they just learned. Make sure students know the meanings of new words before reading a story. If students can decode well, fluency will not be difficult. Check comprehension by asking questions about the story.  Let’s follow good practice and improve reading instruction!

Reading for Pleasure

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How many students spend any significant amount of time reading for pleasure?  How many students spend a great deal of time playing computer games?  Are our children experiencing the joys of reading for fun—or do they read only what they are forced to read in order to get their schoolwork done?

Some schools have created a “Reading for Pleasure” elective course which has proven to be very popular.  This shows that kids ARE interested in reading for pleasure, but they may not be interested in reading and analyzing the traditional books that are assigned in English/Language Arts courses.

We know that students first need the tools to decode words quickly and automatically. Only then will they will be able to think about and enjoy what they are reading.  Reading books also expands students’ vocabulary acquisition.

Once students can read well, we can help them learn how to choose books that will be entertaining or educational or both.  You might even consider reading the same book your child is reading so that you can discuss the stories together.

Step 1:   Teach students how to decode phonetically.  This requires a strong phonetic reading program for beginners or an effective phonetic reading intervention for struggling readers.  Chose a program (such as Sound Bytes Reading) that includes decodable stories  that match the phonics instruction so your student will get plenty of reading practice at her instructional level. Once students are strong readers, they can go on to the next step.  If an older student is a struggling reader, you might consider reading interesting books aloud to him/her so that   he/she will have the benefit of the exposure to enriched vocabulary while he/she is still learning how to read.

Step 2:  Find out what your students are interested in and then provide books on those subjects.  My kids loved reading DK Eyewitness books which have a lot of interesting pictures as well as text. You can find many interesting fiction or nonfiction books at various reading levels at your public library.

Step 3:  Broaden your students’ horizons by pairing fiction with nonfiction books.  So if your child is interested in dogs and reads at about a 3rd grade level, he could read “A Boy in the Doghouse” paired with the DK Eyewitness book, “Dogs.” At a 4th-5th grade level, a child might enjoy reading “Henry Huggins.”

At the high school level, look for nonfiction biographies to pair up with students’ history lessons.  Reading “A Long Way Gone” or “First They Killed My Father” will educate students about the difficulties faced by real people who have lived in war-torn countries. This kind of paired reading can lead to some very interesting discussions and a much broader view of the world we live in.

 

Sound Bytes Reading: Top Ten Blogs in 2013—Part 2

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6 – Diagnosing Children with Reading Problems

This blog post will begin to address the difficulties of struggling readers and how parents can begin to understand the problem and help their students.  Reading can break down at any of these points when students are not explicitly taught the sound patterns in English.  We will cover each step in the next few blog posts.  Part One in a Series of Fivehttp://bit.ly/10jioWR 

7 – Preparing Young Children to Learn

What makes children ready to learn? What can parents do to help prepare their children to learn?

Whether your children will be attending school or are homeschooled, they need to be prepared to learn.  Being prepared to learn involves many things.  This includes developing self control, learning to pay attention, managing your time so you can get assignments done, and a willingness to co-operate with others and take turns.  Educational leaders have labeled these things as “soft skills.” Read more here: http://bit.ly/14t04Li

8 – Preparing to Learn—Teach Children How to Clean Up

Children appreciate cleanliness and a sense of order in their lives—but they don’t usually know how to achieve it. It is our job to teach our children how to clean up after they play and how to keep their things organized so they will be prepared to learn when they begin school. Read more:  http://bit.ly/15dX8Pm

9 – 12 Great Activities to Help Prepare Young Children for School

Child’s play is really child’s work.  You can easily provide your children a wide variety of fun activities that will help them develop small motor coordination and finger strength and dexterity. This will also help them be well prepared for school activities. Here is a list of 12 activities that can help your older preschoolers develop their skills and prepare them for more formal learning.  Read more:  http://bit.ly/11wo55q

10 – Why Is Reading So Difficult For My Child?

Does your child frequently guess at unknown words by saying another word that has the same beginning letter? Does your child look at the pictures for clues?  Were you told he/she has “eye-tracking” problems? After reading a passage, is your child unable to tell you what it’s about (low comprehension)?  Does he/she have problems with fluency (not reading smoothly)?  But this same child may be a whiz at math, easily remember in detail anything that you read aloud, and be highly skilled in other areas.  Why does your child have so much difficulty with reading?  Read more:  http://bit.ly/1a092nC

Bonus: You Can Teach Your Struggling Child to Read – Now!

Is your child a struggling reader?  Have you tried to help your child learn to read and it just doesn’t seem to click?  Learning to read does not come easily for many children, so you are not alone.  Many people will tell you that your child just needs to wait longer—but for most kids that’s just not true!  You can help your child become a strong competent reader.  Read more:  http://bit.ly/1c0a81z

 

Sound Bytes Reading: Top Ten Blogs in 2013—Part 1

SnipBlog691 – All Students Reading at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade? 

The goal:  Every child reading on grade level by the end of third grade?  No!  The goal should be:  Every child reading on grade level by the end of first grade!  With this goal in mind, we must  use effective research-based reading interventions as soon as we see children start to fail—before the end of first grade—and before they have fallen so far behind their peers that many of them will never catch up at all. Teach every child to read by the end of first grade!  Read more:  http://bit.ly/145VDFK

2 – Spelling for Beginning Readers – Part 2

This blog is part of a series on spelling.  It includes a game to help your children learn to spell.  Beginning readers often ask us how to spell words they want to write.  When students ask you to spell words, you can help them develop phonemic awareness by telling them the sound of each letter in the word as they write instead of telling them the names of the letters.  This is what phonics is about—learning to associate letters with speech sounds rather than learning words as a whole unit.  The more we use the sounds associated with the letters the more quickly students will remember them and use them when trying to spell words.  Read more:  http://bit.ly/VFdeTD

3 – Spelling for Beginning Readers – Part 3

Spelling is an important part of learning to read.  Learning to spell helps students learn to read and reading phonetically can help students learn to spell.  If you give your beginning students word lists that have consistent spelling patterns, they will learn to spell much more quickly and they will not forget what they have learned.  Read the blog here:  http://bit.ly/Wj1UJV

Get the FREE Spelling Game for beginning readers here:  http://soundbytesreading.com/assets/files/Spelling-Game-for-Beginning-Readers.pdf

4 – Five Spelling Tips for Teaching Beginning Readers 

Our brains are designed to recognize patterns that make sense.  For beginning or struggling readers, learning that is based on consistent patterns will make reading and spelling new words much easier.  Here are five tips to help you teach spelling.  Read more:  http://bit.ly/11TpQcL

5 – Should You Continue to Read Aloud to your School Age Children?

Reading books that are above your children’s reading level will help to increase their vocabulary. Even though they can read for themselves, older children enjoy having longer stories read aloud to them.  Get the book list and read more here: http://bit.ly/ZlKWw

Next week: Part 2

Why Is Reading So Difficult For My Child?

A friend has a child who is having difficulty learning to read.  So I asked my friend about her child.  Did he frequently guess at an unknown word by saying another word that had the same beginning letter? Was he looking at pictures for clues when he didn’t know a word?  Were you told he has “eye-tracking” problems? When he read a passage, was he unable to tell you what it was about (comprehension)?  Did he have problems with fluency (not reading smoothly)?  Yep—reading problems!

But this same child is a whiz at math, can easily remember in great detail anything that is read aloud to him, and is highly skilled in other areas.  Why does he have so much difficulty with reading?

It should be obvious that a child who is highly skilled in many other things and has a very good memory for math is not learning disabled.  A child who has genuine problems with memory will also have problems with math.

The real problem lies in how reading is taught.  Children are often taught to look at the first letter of a word they do not know and make a good “guess.” They are taught to look at the picture to help them figure out an unknown word.  They are taught to skip a word and go back later so they can use context to figure out the word. These things create so-called “eye-tracking” problems, because the child was taught to look all over the page.

These things also create problems with fluency and comprehension.  When children spend a lot of time trying to guess what a word is (and usually they are guessing wrong) they will lose track of what the reading passage is about.  Some of these kids appear to be pretty good readers because they have memorized a lot of words—but they cannot figure out new words without help—and so they struggle more and more as they get older.

The only solution is to teach struggling readers how to decode words by looking at all of the letters in the word and going from left-to right. It also helps if each new sound pattern (such as ou, ow, ea, etc.) is taught separately. Kids who think in a linear, logical way need to be taught to read in a sequential manner so that each new sound pattern they learn builds on previous knowledge. Reading material should use the sound patterns children have been taught.  Stories should not be filled with sound patterns they have not yet learned.

My friend is teaching her child to decode words phonetically now, and I hope to give you an update on their progress in a few weeks.

Parents, you can help your struggling reader become a confident and capable reader in just a few weeks. It’s easy, and everything you need is available in one book, including all of the reading material. Don’t wait—get a copy of Sound Bytes Reading from Rainbow Resource Center or at Amazon and watch your child begin to experience the joy of reading at last!