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Phonics & decoding

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

Using but confusing, with laundry

I've written before about using a child's writing as a way to understand what she needs from her instruction. This weekend provided me with more insight into Anna's (our 6 year old) development by showing me what she's "using but confusing," a term used by Donald Bear and colleagues in their research in word study.

The girls' Sunday chore was to organize their dresser. Always industrious, Anna took it a step further and labeled each drawer. You can see her work in this photo:

Ranting about RAN

Lots of kids with reading difficulties have trouble on measures of rapid automatized naming (RAN). RAN tasks measure the time taken for a child to name alphabet letters, digits, colors or common objects presented in a random order. Poorer readers consistently perform more slowly on automatized naming tasks.

Mindful of Words

I recently reviewed Mindful of Words, Spelling and Vocabulary Explorations 4-8 by Kathy Ganske.

The book is a great resource for teachers and tutors who work with upper-level spellers. Based in developmental spelling research and vocabulary learning, the book helps teachers understand how to assess students' word knowledge and how to teach in a way that encourages a love of words.

What is a high-quality preschool?

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

Nonsense, as in nonsense words

Mog.
Fim.
Phum.
Sote.
Pagbo.

Just a few examples of the types of words students are asked to read on a Nonsense Word assessment. Some assessments are timed (how many nonsense words can you read in one minute?), and some assessments use a ceiling (stop when the student incorrectly reads 5 in a row).

What sounds to teach when?

I'm often asked what the best sequence is for teaching letter sounds. From the work done by the National Reading Panel, we know that systematic and explicit phonics programs teach children letter–sound relationships directly in a well-defined and predetermined sequence.

Most systematic phonics programs sequence phonics generalizations from least difficult to more difficult. Even still, there are lots of programs that teach letter sounds using lots of different sequences.

Well, what do you know (cuh-no)?

Recently, my mother-in-law was reading an Amanda Pig book with my daughter. Anna paused at the word "know," and my mother-in-law laughingly said, "Oh, that word is /cuh-no/!" — making a joke by suggesting that the in the word is actually voiced, or articulated. Anna thought that was very funny, and proceeded to find and read several more examples within the book ("cuh-nee" for knee) ("cuh-nocked" for knocked). It turned into a sort of cute word search.

Teaching phonics: Great idea, poor examples

Almost every week Anna (my four year old) brings home a "sound wheel" from preschool. Her class studies a letter a week (which I will blog about later ... I'm not big on letter-a-week) and they use these letter wheels as part of their work. Sort of like this, but not exactly.

"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln