Archive

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Heggerty Bridge the Gap Review

Phonemic Awareness has achieved quite a resurgence within the reading community as of late. In some respects it seems to be the only area of agreement among structured literacy (science of reading) and balanced literacy advocates.

Literacy Resources, LLC has published four sets of wildly popular Heggerty phonemic awareness programs: Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade, and the Bridge the Gap intervention program for grades 2 and beyond. These programs are solid, yet hardly innovative curricula. Pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade teachers, as well as special education and reading intervention teachers, have used similar practice activities for years. Nothing new under the sun here.

My own teaching and writing experience is in reading intervention, so for the purposes of this comparative review, I’ll focus on the Heggerty Bridge the Gap intervention program © 2020, Literacy Resources, LLC and compare it to my own reading intervention programs. The Heggerty intervention program is designed for second graders and beyond; mine are similar (ages 8-adult).

Let me begin by saying that the Heggerty Bridge the Gap phonemic awareness intervention program is wonderful. However, its limitations and instructional delivery may make other reading interventions a better choice for reading intervention teachers. Of course, as a publisher, I’m biased and making a sales pitch for my own reading intervention programs; however, I hope you’ll find the review to be accurate and informative, especially if you are considering purchase of the Heggerty program and using their professional development program.

Comparative Review: 5 Main Points

First, the Heggerty placement assessments are excellent. However, they are individually administered and take about 12-15 minutes per student. Most ages 8-adult Tier 2 and 3 intervention classes have a dozen or more students. Middle and high school reading intervention classes have more students. Let’s do the math: In my last seventh grade reading intervention class of 22 students, the Heggerty Bridge the Gap assessments would take 4-6 hours to complete. My Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention) program includes 5 phonemic awareness assessments and can be easily administered whole-class. Each assessment includes an audio file and takes about 5 minutes. Let’s do the math: 5 x 5=25 or 30 minutes tops. BTW, my newly released The Science of Reading Intervention Program uses the same placement assessments.

Second, the Heggerty Bridge the Gap assessment results necessitate differentiated small group or individualized instruction. Nothing wrong with that. My Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention) does the same, integrating assessment-based phonemic awareness activities with other rotating workshops, such as phonics workshops, fluency workshops, vocabulary workshops, etc. In contrast, The Science of Reading Intervention Program includes daily phonemic awareness lessons for every student. If you have a large class, limited instructional time, or are not yet skilled (or interested) in teaching a rotating workshop model of different phonemic awareness activities for different kids, take note of the following.

These [Heggerty] lessons are designed to be part of a Tier 2 or Tier 3 intervention. Lessons can be taught one-on-one or within a small group (5 learners or less)… The lessons are not written for Monday through Friday instruction, but rather the curriculum structure includes 3 parts, with each part increasing in difficulty.

-Literacy Resources, LLC

Both Bridge the Gap and my programs teach phoneme isolation, addition, deletions, substitution, manipulation, segmentation, and reversals. However, the quick, daily phonemic awareness activities taught whole-class in  The Science of Reading Intervention Program may work better for you. My take is that all students, even those who pass the phonemic awareness assessments can benefit from manipulating spoken sounds.

Third, Heggerty’s Bridge the Gap is an add-on program. Add-0n programs often present management (time, materials, and resource) problems for reading intervention teachers. The Bridge the Gap phonemic awareness activities are not aligned with an instructional phonics sequence and no Heggerty program accomplishes their own recommendations:

Lessons are meant to take 5-7 minutes; an oral warm-up as one part of reading intervention. We recommend follow-up with phonics instruction and opportunities for reading decodable texts.

-Literacy Resources, LLC

Reading intervention teachers know that concurrent, coordinated oral phonemic awareness and speech-to-print synthetic phonics activities produce the best results. My Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention) and The Science of Reading Intervention Program  achieve that perfect coordination between phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, and syllabication instruction. Plus, Heggerty also specifically recommends the use of decodable texts. Both of my programs include 54 Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables that align with each phonemic awareness and phonics lesson. Students practice the focus sound spellings and 2 Heart Words (words with one or more irregular sound-spellings), along with 5 comprehension questions, margin notes, and a 30-second word fluency with each book. The decodables have been designed for older readers (ages 8-adult) with teenage characters and plots, beautifully illustrated by comic artist genius, David Rickert.

Fourth, the Heggerty program directors strongly recommend their professional development series. Here is another major time investment for teachers. While every moment of PD may be valuable, not every reading intervention teacher aspires to be a reading specialist. It is certainly true that most upper elementary, middle school, high school, and adult reading intervention teachers have taken a paucity of reading classes in their teacher preparation program. And Dr. Louisa Moats is correct in claiming that the science of reading is “rocket science.” However, good teaching resources don’t necessitate rocket scientists to teach them if they are designed well.

Having supervised reading intervention teachers for years, I know that easy-to-teach program materials don’t have to produce substandard instruction and learning. You could do a great job of teaching my phonemic awareness activities right now without any prep. Read the example lesson to confirm that I’m right. Simply read the scripted lesson and interact with your students. An easy-to-teach 2 or 3 minute lesson.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

The Science of Reading Program Phonemic Awareness Activities

Fifth, the Heggerty Bridge the Gap program is reasonably priced at $59.00. However, unlike their three grade-level curricula, there is currently no digital version. Bummer. Some Heggerty teachers have filled this gap during the pandemic and distance learning with YouTube videos.

In contrast the 54 phonemic awareness lessons in my two programs are formatted as Google slides, perfect for the teacher in that the phonemic awareness teacher slides slide into the morphological awareness activities, into the blending, segmenting, and spelling activities, onto the sounds and spelling lessons, next to the Heart Words lessons, and finally to the Sam and Friends Phonics Books decodables. In other words, integrated digital curriculum–perfect for accelerated reading instruction. (Print the slides if you wish.)

By the way, students have their own set of practice slides to accompany these Daily 5 Activities, including independent practice with type in text boxes and drag and drop activities for the focus sound-spellings and Heart Words, the printable and tablet/Chromebook/phone displays of the decodables.

Want to see the short video overview of The Science of Reading Intervention Program? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfE-Q3prJfo

Fifth, the Bridge the Gap program provides a balanced approach to the many forms of phonological and phonemic awareness. This is not a phoneme isolation-only program. Similarly, my programs include practice in phoneme isolation, addition, deletions, substitution, manipulation, segmentation, and reversals; however, students learn in the whole-class setting.

In summary, Heggerty’s phonemic awareness materials produce helpful arrows for the reading teacher; however, other programs may accomplish the same instructional objectives with 1. Less assessment and instructional time 2. Whole-class instructional options 3. Integrated and coordinated phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling lessons and 4. Digital instructional options. Plus, 5. The same balanced

Phoneme Awareness Research for Reading Intervention

Phonemic awareness is central in learning to read and spell.

Ehri 1984

The lack of phonemic awareness is the most powerful determinant of the likelihood of failure to read.

-Adams 1990

Phonemic awareness is the most potent predictor of success in learning to read.

-Stanovich 1996, 1994

All children can benefit from being taught directly how to break up spoken words into smaller units and how letters represent sounds.

-Shaywitz 1999

There is no age where a student is ‘too old’ for phonemic awareness training‒if the skills have not been mastered, the student should get training.

Kilpatrick 2016

Phonemic awareness training provides the foundation on which phonics instruction is built…

-Blevins 2017

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , ,

Decodables Criteria

Reading specialists and reading intervention teachers have long advocated the use of decodable text for struggling, vulnerable readers… especially those in upper elementary, middle or high school, ESL/ELL, special education, and adult literacy classes. Teachers of beginning reading have either favored decodables, leveled readers, or predictable text.

I’m going to present the argument and criteria for decodables. (Full disclosure, I’m the author of a set of decodable readers for older students which I will use to apply the criteria for effective decodables and will promo at the end of the article.) My take is that it seems like common sense that if we are going to teach decoding (phonics) and encoding (spelling), our students should practice these skills in the context of authentic text. However, many have argued that decodable are anything but authentic, in that they are written for a contrived purpose. Additionally, we all know that common sense is often a poor substitute for evidence-based practices. Unfortunately, the reading research on decodables is quite minimal, according to noted reading researcher, Dr. Tim Shanahan. Shanahan comments:

There have been only a handful of studies into the effectiveness of decodable texts since the term was first used back in the 1980s. And, truth be told, they are kind of mess; with little evident agreement about what decodable text is, what it should be compared with, and what outcomes we should expect to derive from it (https://shanahanonliteracy.com/blog/should-we-teach-with-decodable-text

So, in the “handful of studies” mentioned above, are decodables effective or ineffective? How so relative to other forms of text, such as leveled readers with controlled vocabulary, predictable texts etc.?

Shanahan again:

Mesmer (2005) found that kids were more likely to try to decode decodable text (duh), but leveled texts (less decodable) led to greater fluency (Mesmer, 2010). Some studies (Cheatham & Allor, 2012; Compton, 2005) concur with the first Mesmer study, but that’s okay because others support the second (Priec-Mohr & Price, 2017). And, then there are those with mixed results (Chu & Chen, 2014).

Regarding the effectiveness of decodables versus other text constructions, the Ohio Department of Education produced a helpful list and example slides of pros and cons for decodables, leveled readers, and predictable text readers. Note that the advantage of decodables seems clear to me (and them) in their presentation:

http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/Literacy/Striving-Readers-Comprehensive-Literacy-Grant/Literacy-Academy/1-05-Matching-Text-Types-to-Students-Part-2.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

Design and Instructional Component Criteria

As mentioned above, I’ll use my own decodable series to exemplify what I consider to be appropriate criteria for decodables for older readers.

Sam and Friends Phonics Books

  • The Sam and Friends Phonics Books consist of highly decodable and systematic text to help readers learn, practice, and develop reliance upon the alphabetic code. Decodable means that a high percentage of words will be phonetically regular. Systematic means that each reader includes and reinforces only previously introduced sound-spellings to scaffold instruction.
  • Each of the 54 books introduces the focus sound-spellings and 2 Heart Words of the daily Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling activity in the author’s two reading intervention programs:
  • The books use the most widely-accepted, research-based instructional phonics sequence.
  • Each book introduces two high-utility Heart Words (high frequency words with one or more phonetically irregular sound-spellings).
  • The language de-emphasizes idiomatic expressions (ideal for English-language learners).
  • The stories use non-predictable, non-repetitious, and non-patterned language to minimize over-reliance upon context clues and knowledge of text structure.
  • The SCRIP comprehension strategies (Summary, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, Predict) are embedded within the text pages, not at the end of the book, to promote reader-author conversations and internal monitoring of text. Many require higher order thinking skills. The books include five higher level comprehension questions for each story.
  • The back page includes 30 second word fluency practice on the focus sound-spellings and sight words with a systematic review of previously introduced sound-spellings and
  • Heart Words
  • Each book consists of eight pages in 5.5 x 8.5-inch booklet form. Books are formatted to be copied back to back on two separate 8.5 x 11 pages for easy copying and collation. Just one fold creates the take-home books. Staple if desired.
  • The books are also formatted for tablet, Chromebook, and phone display.
  • The books are also available as Google slides with comment or question text boxes for interactive monitoring of the text.
  • Collections A, B, C, D, and E focus on remedial sound-spellings and sight words; whereas, Collection F: Syllable Juncture and Derivational Influences Books 45-54 is appropriate for all students reading below grade level.
  • The books have been designed with older students (grades 4 to adult) in mind. Students will enjoy reading about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also Sam’s dog, Pug.
  • The plots for each self-contained story reinforce positive values and character development and feature multi-ethnic teenage characters.
  • Each book is cleverly illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The illustrations do not explain the text. They entertain.

Your students will love these decodables for older readers: the Sam and Friends  Phonics Books, and more importantly, by using these readers, students and parents will see measurable progress in their reading skills. If interested in the characters, settings, and themes of the books, check out this sister article: Decodables for Big Kids.

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics instruction, such as is included in the author’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , ,

Decodables for Big Kids

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics instruction, such as is included in the author’s comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies and The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

The Sam and Friends Phonics Books have been designed to support systematic and explicit phonics and spelling instruction. The eight-page books will help your students master all the common sound-spelling patterns and 108 high frequency Heart Words (words with one or more irregular sound-spellings), while improving their reading fluency and comprehension.

What makes these decodables ideal for older students?

For years I served as an upper elementary reading specialist and middle-high school reading intervention teacher. I, like others who teach older, vulnerable/struggling readers, simply could not find decodable stories which specifically helped students practice the sound-spellings I was teaching.

Using the “Bob” books, Dr. Seuss, or the ilk was out of the question. Nothing de-motivates an older student more than primary age-appropriate illustrations and/or story themes in books or in reading curriculum.

Yes, many of these older readers do need to know how to sound out “c-aa-t,” but “there must be better ways to practice the /k/, short /a/, and /t/ sounds and c-a-t spellings,” I thought. I searched high and low, and no… High/Low readers were not the answer. I searched the Reading Rockets decodable links in vain. I wanted targeted, pure (as much as possible) decodables with focused sound-spellings and minimal Heart Words that respected my students ages and maturity levels. There simply are no other decodables I could find that met my personal criteria.

I had to write them.

Of course, I can’t draw an engaging illustration to save my life. But David Rickert, the comic artist, certainly can. A true partnership developed. I wrote the stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also Sam’s dog, Pug. The plots for each self-contained story reinforce positive values and character development and feature multi-ethnic teenage characters. David illustrated each of the 54 Sam and Friends Phonics Books.

Now, David is a high school ELA teacher, in addition to being an illustrator. He found it interesting that I insisted on illustrations which did not add meaning to the stories, but only entertained the readers. If you are knowledgeable about S0R (the science of reading), you will understand why we don’t want developing readers to be overly-dependent upon pictures to explain what the text means.

What are the characters like and what are some of the themes in these books?

The four characters and dog interact in and out of the high school setting. Two of them, Sam and Kit, develop a semi-romantic relationship throughout the 54 books. The multi-ethnic characters run counter to many cultural stereotypes. For example, both Tom and Kit are the athletes. Deb, an African-American, is the smart debate club champion with math and science as her strong suits. Sam’s dog, Pug, is a trouble-making, but lovable, pooch.

The story themes take place in a variety of settings: in school, at the lake, at the ocean, in the forest, at the coffee shop.

In one story, Tom and Sam create a snow tubing business; in another, Deb and Kit run a race; in a story featuring Pug, the dog chases the ice cream truck. In each story, positive values are emphasized. There is nothing overly controversial in these stories… they teach the values of friendship, respect to parents and teachers, loyalty, honesty, etc. However, these aren’t preachy stories, although in one story all four friends visit Deb’s church. The stories won’t elicit any parent or student complaints… they teach your students to read and even enjoy the practice.

Also included in these stories are the focus sound-spellings, Heart Words, 30-second word fluencies, 5 higher level comprehension questions, and comment or question text boxes. Each of the 54 stories connects to the sounds and spellings instructional sequence from my two reading intervention programs. No, I don’t sell the Sam and Friends Phonics Books separately. They are completely integrated into my two programs listed below. Yes, the books are formatted for interactive reading in Google slides, but also may be printed as eight-page booklets or viewed on tablets, Chromebooks, and phones. So many ways to read these stories and practice what you teach!

These phonics books are ideal for guided reading and independent practice in all reading intervention instructional settings. Check out this quick video, featuring one of the Sam and Friends Phonics Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6qxzT6OoOI  Now, once you’ve watched the video… if you are a reading nerd like me, you’ll want more technical reading stuff about just how decodable these books are, and just how aligned the series is to the science of reading. Check out Decodables Criteria and nerd out!

Mark Pennington is the teacher author of Teaching Reading Strategies and The Science of Reading Intervention Program.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

Reading , , , , , , , , , ,

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

Intervention Program Science of ReadingDownload 2 FREE lessons (178 slides and a 15 min video) to check out The Science of Reading Intervention Program. Effective. Evidence-based. Accelerated program. Easy-to-teach. Affordable.

This evidence-based, SoR-aligned, accelerated program has been designed for struggling readers ages 8-adult. The 54 lessons each include 5 Daily Google Slide Activities:

5 Daily Google Slide Activities (55 minute lessons, 3 days per week, 18 weeks)

    1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology: Advanced phonemic awareness drills and Greek and Latin Anchor Words to help students learn the high frequency prefixes, roots, and suffixes (5 Minutes).
  1.  Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling: Continuous blending of 4-8 words to learn phonetically regular focus sound-spellings and 2 Heart Words per lesson, plus syllable and spelling rules (10 Minutes). Includes audio and video files.
  2. Sounds and Spellings Practice: Independent practice with text box typing and drag and drop activities for the focus sound-spellings (10 Minutes).
  3. Heart Words Practice: Independent practice with text box typing and drag and drop activities for the 2 words with phonetically irregular sound-spellings (5 Minutes).
  4.  Sam and Friends Phonics Books: Decodable stories with teenage characters and plots for each daily lesson with comprehension questions, margin annotations, and word fluency practice. Beautifully illustrated by noted comic artist, David Rickert. (Slides with text box typing and PDFs in Tablet, Chromebook, and Phone Formats) 25 Minutes

Written for teachers by a teacher. Completely aligned to the science of reading.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , ,

Teaching Reading Strategies Reading Intervention Program

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) featuring the Sam and Friends Phonics Books is designed for non-readers or below grade level readers ages eight-adult. Ideal as both Tier II or III pull-out or push-in reading intervention for older struggling readers, special education students with auditory processing disorders, and ESL, ESOL, or ELL students.

PREVIEW THE TEACHING READING STRATEGIES RESOURCES HERE.

This full-year (or half-year intensive) program provides explicit and systematic whole-class instruction and assessment-based small group workshops to differentiate instruction. Both new and veteran reading teachers will appreciate the four training videos, minimal prep and correction, and user-friendly resources in this program, written by a teacher for teachers and their students.

The program provides 13 diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files). Teachers use assessment-based instruction to target the discrete concepts and skills each student needs to master according to the assessment data.

Whole class and small group instruction includes the following resources:

  • Over 2500 instructional Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling Google slides with audio and video 
  • Phonemic awareness activities
  • Phonics workshops with formative assessments
  • Expository comprehension worksheets
  • 102 spelling pattern worksheets
  • Reading strategies worksheets
  • 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds for optimal reading fluency practice
  • Writing skills worksheets
  • 56 vocabulary worksheets
  • Syllable worksheets
  • 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (PDF print-ready) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These 54 decodable books (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each 8-page book introduces two sight words and reinforces the sound-spellings practiced in that day’s sound-by-sound spelling blending. Plus, each book includes a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, 5 higher-level comprehension questions, and comment or question margin note text boxes in the Google slides format.

Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug. These take-home books are great for independent homework practice.

—————————————————————————————–

Teaching Reading Strategies includes comparable or superior resources to reading intervention programs costing thousands per student per year. What’s the difference, other than price?

  • Fewer bells and whistles, but more teacher-student interactive instruction and learning. The Teaching Reading Strategies program uses pencil and paper diagnostic and formative assessments, rather than computer adaptive assessments, to guide instruction and monitor progress. The teacher makes the instructional decisions, not the software.
  • Other than the YouTube modeled reading fluency passages, the digital display Sam and Friends Phonics Books, and the 2500+ Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling Google slides, the instructional resources are designed for classroom display or print. Not every teacher has a PC, tablet, or Chromebook for each student. Plus, not every teacher wants the computer to be the primary teacher of reading to older struggling readers.
  • No huge teacher edition to have to reference constantly to plan lessons.
  • No need for multiple training days with publisher sales reps/trainers to learn the program.
  • Finally, this 4000 page or slide program has been written by and field tested by a teacher just like you, Mark Pennington MA reading specialist.

—————————————————————————————–

Detailed Teaching Reading Strategies Product Description

Simple Program Placement

The Teaching Reading Strategies program includes four assessments to help teachers properly place students in the program: the *Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment, the *Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessments, the *Diagnostic Spelling Assessment, and the Individual Fluency Assessment.

*Audio Files

Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling

The scripted sounds and spelling blending instructional sequence will help students learn to read all of the common sound-spellings in just 18 weeks of synthetic phonics instruction. The Google slides help you teach 54 lessons with focus sound-spellings, segmentation (count the phonemes) practice, 2 Heart Words (words with one or more irregular sound-spellings), spelling practice, and sound boxes. Print the Google slides you want students to complete. Your in charge of which resources to use or not use. You’ll love the audio and video.

Syllable Transformers and Syllabication

Students practice sound-spelling syllable transformations and syllable patterns with whole class interactive practice and syllable worksheets.

Reading Fluency Practice 

Students practice reading fluency (modeled readings, repeated practice, cold and hot timings recorded on timing charts) with 43 expository articles, each written about a common or uncommon animal.

Each of the engaging articles is composed in a leveled format—the first two paragraphs are at third grade reading level, the next two are at the fifth grade reading level, and the last two are at the seventh grade reading level. Slower readers get practice on controlled vocabulary and are pushed to read at the higher reading levels, once the contextual content has been established. Faster readers are challenged by the increasingly difficult multi-syllabic vocabulary.

The Teaching Reading Strategies program provides two options for fluency practice: 1. Small group choral readings (no technology required) and 2. YouTube videos with modeled readings at three different speeds for each of the 43 articles.

Plus, students practice word fluencies on the back of their Sam and Friends Phonics Books.

Comprehension Worksheets

The SCRIP Comprehension Worksheets help students learn and practice comprehension cues (summarize, connect, re-think, interpret, and predict) to independently access the meaning of texts. The 43 expository articles are the same as those used in the reading fluency practice. Each worksheet includes five text-dependent comprehension questions and three context clues vocabulary words.

Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Game Cards

The 644 Reading, Spelling, and Vocabulary Game Cards (PDF print-ready) are used in instructional activities and games. You and your students will love the card games. Who says we can’t learn and have fun at the same time?

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Teacher lessons, guided reading practice, and Reading Strategy Worksheets will help your students learn to self-monitor their reading and improve comprehension. Examples: How to Identify Main Idea and Determine Importance, How to Identify Fact and Opinion, Read-Study Method, How to Summarize, Authors and Readers’ Purpose, Close Reading, How to Infer, How to Visualize Text, Cause and Effect, and more.

Diagnostic Assessments

With canned reading intervention programs, teachers wind up spending too much time teaching what many of their remedial readers already know and too little time helping students practice what they do not know.

The 13 whole-class diagnostic reading assessments pinpoint the specific reading deficits for each of your students. Everything you need to teach (or not teach) is assessed and instructional resources match every assessment item.

The 13 program assessments include…

Syllable Awareness, Syllable Rhyming, Phonemic Isolation, Phonemic Blending, Phonemic Segmenting, Alphabetic Upper and Lower Case Letter Match and Alphabetic Sequencing, Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment, Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment, HearWords Assessment, Rimes Assessment, Sight Syllables Assessment, Diagnostic Spelling Assessment, and an Individual Fluency Assessment

All assessment data is recorded on two comprehensive reading recording matrices for simple progress monitoring and placement in flexible small group workshops. Each workshop activity has a brief formative assessment to determine whether students have mastered the skill or need more practice.

Phonemic Awareness Workshops 

The Teaching Reading Strategies program includes extensive phonemic awareness activities which perfectly correspond with the phonemic awareness assessments. Students fill in the gaps to ensure a solid foundation for learning the phonetic code by learning to hear, identify, and manipulate the phonemes.

Workshops include alphabetic awareness, rhyming, syllable awareness and manipulation, phonemic isolation, blending, and segmentation.

Phonics Workshops 

Teaching Reading Strategies provides 35 phonics workshops, targeted to the vowel and consonant sounds phonics assessments.

Spelling Pattern Workshops

The 102 Spelling Pattern Worksheets correspond to each test item on the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Students complete spelling sorts, rhymes, word jumbles, and brief book searches.

Guided Reading: The Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

The Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books features 54 eight-page decodable stories with teenage characters, high-interest plots, and non-juvenile cartoons. Each book has embedded reading comprehension questions, word fluency timings, and accompanying running records. The books are formatted as booklets for printing and digital display on phones, tablets, and Chromebooks.

Each book has focus sound-spellings (the same ones as in the Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling Google slides activities) and 2 HearWords. Students learn the blends and practice them in the decodable Sam and Friends Phonics Books. The 5 comprehension questions per story are ideal for guided reading instruction and parent-supervised homework. The Google slides format includes text boxes for comment and question margin notes.

Additionally, all 54 books provide a 30-second word fluency practice on the focus sound-spellings and sight words with a systematic review of previously introduced sound-spellings and sight words. Your students will improve reading fluency as they develop automaticity with the common sound-spellings and high utility HearWords.

Writing Strategy Workshops

The Writing Strategy Worksheets will help your students learn how both narrative and expository texts are structured and composed at the sentence, paragraph, and chapter levels. Great practice for understanding textbooks! Understanding the reading-writing connection will improve both reading comprehension and writing.

Vocabulary Workshops

The 56 Vocabulary Worksheets used in this workshop focus on the CCSS Vocabulary Standards:

  • Multiple Meaning Words and Context Clues (L.4.a.)
  • Greek and Latin Word Parts (L.4.a.)
  • Language Resources (L.4.c.d.)
  • Figures of Speech (L.5.a.)
  • Word Relationships (L.5.b.)
  • Connotations (L.5.c.)
  • Academic Language Words (L.6.0)
You can help turn struggling and vulnerable students into confident and skilled readers with the Teaching Reading Strategies program.

PREVIEW THE TEACHING READING STRATEGIES RESOURCES HERE. PURCHASE THE TEACHING READING STRATEGIES PROGRAM HERE.

—————————————————————————————–

Here’s what teachers are saying…

“I love the assessments. The students were much more willing to try when they understood that they would work on skills they as individuals were missing. The program is structured so that I can easily work with a small group or individual as needed to fill instructional gaps.”

Jules Stras 

“An extensive product suitable for students of all ages. Love that it is suitable testing and resources for older students with reading difficulties- there are too few suitable resources for this age group. Reading passages are appealing with attached ideas on how to best target each one.”

Felicia B.

“Perfect for my ESL students!”

Cathy Ford

“I am an Instructional Coach and am responsible for running RtI groups, this is the perfect resource that I have been looking for! Thank you so much for creating it!”

Jamie Kidwell

“The Sam and Friends Books are just what my struggling middle school and high school readers need!”

Joy Hutchings

I used these books with my third and fourth grade intervention students. They loved the books and would ask if we were reading Sam and Friends today. They would predict what they thought would happen and there was the opportunity to make connections from the other stories! I also used the animal passages from Teaching Reading Strategies and was able to apply the same comprehension strategies. So glad to have these resources! Thanks!!! 

Angelo Moreno

Reading

Reading and Spelling Assessments

FREE Reading and Spelling Assessments for Reading Intervention

Following are accurate and teachable diagnostic reading and spelling assessments and corresponding recording matrices to help teachers determine what students know and what they do not know. All but one assessment (fluency) are whole class assessments. Each assessment is comprehensive, not a random sample, to enable teachers to teach to the results of each test item. The author’s ELA/reading programs provide the resources for assessment-based whole class and individualized instruction. Click on the blue links for the assessment resources and check out the author’s programs, which provide the instructional resources to teach to each assessment.

DIAGNOSTIC READING ASSESSMENTS

Phonemic Awareness Assessments (Printable Copies) 

Use these five phonemic awareness (syllable awareness, syllable rhyming, phonemic isolation, phonemic blending, phonemic segmenting) and two awareness assessments (upper and lower case identification and application) to determine reading readiness. Each of the seven assessments is administered whole class. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes corresponding phonemic awareness and alphabetic awareness activities to remediate all deficits indicated by the assessments.

Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment

(Printable Copy with Links to 10:42 Audio File, Google Forms, and Google Sheets)*

Printable and digital testing options: Use this comprehensive 52 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of short vowels, long vowels, silent final e, vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, and r-controlled vowels. The assessment uses nonsense words to test students’ knowledge of the sound-spellings to isolate the variable of sight word recognition. Unlike other phonics assessments, this assessment is not a random sample of phonics knowledge. The Vowel Sounds Phonics Assessment includes every common sound-spelling. Thus, the results of the assessment permit targeted instruction in any vowel sound phonics deficits. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes corresponding worksheets and small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this assessment.

Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment

(Printable Copy with Links to 12:07 Audio File, Google Forms, and Google Sheets)*

Printable and digital testing options: Use this comprehensive 50 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of consonant digraphs, beginning consonant blends, and ending consonant blends. The assessment uses nonsense words to test students’ knowledge of the sound-spellings to isolate the variable of sight word recognition. Unlike other phonics assessments, this assessment is not a random sample of phonics knowledge. The Consonant Sounds Phonics Assessment includes every common sound-spelling. Thus, the results of the assessment permit targeted instruction in any consonant sound phonics deficits. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes corresponding worksheets and small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this assessment.

Outlaw Words Assessment (Non-Phonetic Heart Words)(Printable Copy)

Use this 99 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of the most common non-phonetic English words. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this 15-minute assessment. The program includes an Outlaw Words fluency article which uses all assessment sight words. The program also provides sight word game card masters and individual sets of business card size game cards in the accompanying Reading and Spelling Game Cards.

Rimes Assessment (Printable Copy) 

Use this comprehensive 79 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of the most common English rimes. Memorization and practice of these word families such as ack, eck, ick, ock, and uck can supplement an explicit and systematic phonics program, such as found in the author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program. Experienced reading teachers know that different students respond differently to reading instruction and some remedial students especially benefit from learning onsets (such as consonant blends) and rimes. The program includes small group activities to remediate all deficits indicated by this 15-minute assessment. The program also provides rimes game card masters and individual sets of business card size game cards in the accompanying Reading and Spelling Game Cards.

Sight Syllables Assessment (Printable Copy)

Use this 49 item whole class assessment to determine your students’ mastery of the most common Greek and Latin prefixes and suffixes. Memorization and practice of these high utility affixes will assist with syllabication, spelling, and vocabulary development. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program provides Greek and Latin prefix and suffix game card masters and individual sets of business card size game cards in the accompanying Reading and Spelling Game Cards.

The Pets Fluency Assessment (Printable Copy) *

The “Pets” expository fluency passage is leveled in a unique pyramid design: the first paragraph is at the first grade (Fleish-Kincaid) reading level; the second paragraph is at the second grade level; the third paragraph is at the third grade level; the fourth paragraph is at the fourth grade level; the fifth paragraph is at the fifth grade level; the sixth paragraph is at the sixth grade level; and the seventh paragraph is at the seventh grade level. Thus, the reader begins practice at an easier level to build confidence and then moves to more difficult academic language. As the student reads the fluency passage, the teacher will be able to note the reading levels at which the student has a high degree of accuracy and automaticity. Automaticity refers to the ability of the reader to read effortlessly without stumbling or sounding-out words. The 383 word passage permits the teacher to assess two-minute reading fluencies (a much better measurement than a one-minute timing).

* Placement Assessments

*****

RECOMMENDED READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM APPLYING ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Sam and Friends Phonics Books

Reading Intervention Program

You can help turn struggling and vulnerable students into confident and skilled readers with the Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) featuring the Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. Printable and digital components.

This full-year (or half-year intensive) program provides explicit and systematic whole-class instruction and assessment-based small group workshops to differentiate instruction.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These 54 decodable books (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each 8-page book introduces two irregular spelling heart words and reinforces the sound-spellings practiced in that day’s sound-by-sound spelling blending. Plus, each book includes a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions.

DIAGNOSTIC SPELLING ASSESSMENT

The 102 item assessment includes the most common previous grade-level spelling patterns.

  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1-64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1-79)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1-89)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1-98)
  • Grade 8: K-7 spelling patterns (#s 1-102)

The test items are grouped by spelling patterns e.g., the four long /i/ spellings, to make posttest analysis simple. All spelling words are multi-syllabic to prevent students from identifying the words by “sight spellings” and to require recognition of the sound-spelling patterns within the context of syllables.

Assessment Formats

Choose the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment format which best suits your needs:

1. Printable Only: Teacher dictates the number of test items assigned to the grade levels, following the written administrative protocol. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment teacher administration form; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

2. Audio and Printable: Teacher plays the 22:32 “slow speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the 17:26 “fast speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 7 and 8 students. The audio file includes all administrative directions. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 22:38 audio file; Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 17:26 audio file; Spelling Patterns Assessment Matrix.

3. Google Forms: Teacher shares either the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Form with the 22:32 “slow speed” for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the form with the “fast speed” for grades 7 and 8 students. Note that incorrect spellings with be accompanied by the Google red squiggly line indicating a spelling error. Students may be tempted to right click the word and select the correct spelling; however, if the teacher tells the students the purpose of the test and directs them not to self-correct, students will generally follow instructions. Telling students that they will receive the same amount of credit whether the spelling is accurate or not, and using the “fast speed” audio also helps students avoid the temptation of cheating. Teacher uploads the students’ Google Forms into the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the 22:32 “slow speed” audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the the 17:26 “fast speed” audio file for grades 7 and 8 students; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

*****

RECOMMENDED SPELLING PROGRAMS APPLYING ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Check out the spelling programs designed to teach research-based spelling patterns, not silly theme words. Help your students catch up while they keep up with remedial spelling worksheets corresponding to the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Printable and digital formats with American English and Canadian English versions:

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Programs

American English Spelling Program

American English

Canadian English Spelling Program

Canadian English

 

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , ,

Should Grades 4-8 Teachers Teach Spelling?

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Grades 4-8

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment

It depends. The real question is “Do your students (or some of your students) need to improve their spelling?”

The only way to find out is through assessment. The FREE Diagnostic Spelling Assessment has been designed for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is not a random sample spelling inventory. You could give a short inventory, which would hint at problem areas or determine a student’s spelling stage, but you would have to do further assessment to specify the specific unknown spelling patterns to remediate. But the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment does it all in one assessment. The results will indicate problem areas and specific, teachable deficits. Teachers get the data they need to minimize remedial instruction to individual needs.

Assessment Design

The 102 item assessment includes the most common previous grade-level spelling patterns.

  • Grade 4: K-3 spelling patterns (#s 1-64)
  • Grade 5: K-4 spelling patterns (#s 1-79)
  • Grade 6: K-5 spelling patterns (#s 1-89)
  • Grade 7: K-6 spelling patterns(#s 1-98)
  • Grade 8: K-7 spelling patterns (#s 1-102)

The test items are grouped by spelling patterns e.g., the four long /i/ spellings, to make posttest analysis simple. All spelling words are multi-syllabic to prevent students from identifying the words by “sight spellings” and to require recognition of the sound-spelling patterns within the context of syllables.

Assessment Formats

Choose the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment format which best suits your needs:

1. Paper Only: Teacher dictates the number of test items assigned to the grade levels, following the written administrative protocol. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment teacher administration form; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

2. Audio and Paper: Teacher plays the 22:32 “slow speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the 17:26 “fast speed” Diagnostic Spelling Assessment audio file for grades 7 and 8 students. The audio file includes all administrative directions. Students take the test on binder paper. Teacher corrects assessments according to directions and records spelling deficits on the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 22:38 audio file; Diagnostic Spelling Assessment 17:26 audio file; Spelling Patterns Assessment Matrix.

3. Google Forms: Teacher shares either the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Form with the 22:32 “slow speed” for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the form with the “fast speed” for grades 7 and 8 students. Note that incorrect spellings with be accompanied by the Google red squiggly line indicating a spelling error. Students may be tempted to right click the word and select the correct spelling; however, if the teacher tells the students the purpose of the test and directs them not to self-correct, students will generally follow instructions. Telling students that they will receive the same amount of credit whether the spelling is accurate or not, and using the “fast speed” audio also helps students avoid the temptation of cheating. Teacher uploads the students’ Google Forms into the Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.

Resources: Diagnostic Spelling Assessment Google Forms with the 22:32 “slow speed” audio file for grades 4, 5, and 6 students or the the 17:26 “fast speed” audio file for grades 7 and 8 students; Spelling Patterns Assessment Mastery Matrix Google Sheets.


If you’ve made the decision that all or some of your students need spelling instruction, please check out the author’s grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Differentiated Spelling Instruction. Each program includes grade-level spelling tests and spelling sorts, according to age appropriate spelling patterns and 102 remedial worksheets (each with a formative assessment) to helps students master the spelling deficits indicated by the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Efficient and targeted spelling instruction! Plus, the spelling sorts and 102 worksheets have a fillable PDF option. Perfect for distance/virtual learning.

Grammar/Mechanics, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , ,

Distance Learning for Parents | Virtual Learning Advice

Virtual Learning Parents

Distance Learning Parents

I know you didn’t sign up for this. It’s tough teaching at home; it’s especially tough teaching your own kids at home. You don’t have the training, nor the tools. Your first go-round of in-home teaching last spring may have been an epic fail. However, before you pour that second glass of wine or click out of this article, let me give you some good news. You’ve got this!

You are reading this article because you care. You want the best for your kids and know that throwing a pity party for yourself or playing the blame game is not going to get the job done. Besides the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of your children, nothing is a greater priority than your child’s education.

So, you are right to be concerned about Covid Brain Drain. As a recently-retired teacher, I’m active on all the teacher Facebook groups, and I can tell you that the news from teachers welcoming back their students is that students have not made the traditional year to year growth. Additionally, student work ethic has taken some serious hits. Teachers will do their best to catch up their students, but this is not business as usual. They’ve never done this before, and despite their commitment and effort, they don’t have the training, nor the tools, to completely revamp what they’ve done for years. School district administrators have done the best they can, but money that could have been invested in teacher training and tools had to be diverted to Covid-proofing retrofits, cleaning, hiring of nurses, etc.

I know, first hand, that this is the case. I’m a small publisher of teaching resources, and despite the fact that I have developed a number of sure-fire digital resources, they’re not selling like hotcakes. District staff are telling me that they have no money to purchase new materials. I’m still selling to individual teachers, but many of them are looking at salary freezes and lay-offs. So, district administrators and teacher are looking for as many free distance learning resources as possible. Now, you don’t always get what you pay for, but more times than not, the free resources are not going to captivate the attention of you or your child.

So, what to do?

  1. Accept the fact that you are primarily responsible for the education of your child, not your teacher and not your child. The teacher may be amazing, but even the best have shortcomings, especially with Covid restraints and challenges. Your child is probably like 99% of the students I taught at the elementary, middle school, high school, and community college level i.e., learning is not their highest priority and their parents and teachers are not the main characters in their own stories.  The 1% are rarities. I’ve “taught” some of these self-starters and high achievers, but they are simply not normal.
  2. Analyze what the teacher is and is not teaching, and supplement as needed. Face it, you’re going to have to invest some time and money in learning how to supplement the teacher’s instruction for your child.*
  3. Be extremely and overtly positive about what and how the teacher is teaching. If you are not naturally inclined to do so, fake it ’til you make it for the benefit of your child. Send complimentary emails to the teacher and cc the principal. Honey draws more flies than vinegar.
  4. Reward (bribe) your children to do their best work. Extrinsic rewards, especially short-term, task-specific rewards, work. Leave the intrinsic reward development until Covid is over.
  5. Provide the supplies your child needs to succeed, and keep other children out of their work area as much as possible.
  6. Help your child stick to a schedule. If your child’s teacher has a ZOOM meeting at nine each morning and records it, keep your routine the same and don’t use the recording as an excuse to work around your schedule.

What not to do?

  1. Don’t coddle your kid. Make your child reads and re-reads the assignment directions and does the work. Don’t make excuses for your child’s lack of effort. Don’t fill in the gaps. Don’t contact your child’s teacher when the child should be doing so.
  2. In your supplemental teaching, don’t pass out the workbook/worksheet and expect it to teach your child. Specific worksheets can provide ideal independent practice, but only after you have taught the concept, content, or skill and provided some guided practice.
  3. Although parents should have high expectations of their children, don’t ignore the debilitating effects of social distancing. Know when and when not to cut your kid some slack.

* From my experience, these four subject areas tend to be lower instructional priorities for most teachers’ distance learning/virtual learning:

  1. Grammar, usage, and mechanics
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Spelling
  4. Study skills
  5. Individual reading deficits

Pennington Publishing provides digital and printable resources for each of these subject areas. Each resource has a diagnostic assessment to determine what your child knows and does not know. Video tutorials are also provided. You don’t have to have a teaching degree to be successful with these products. Plus, my email and phone number are on my website and I love to help parents decide which programs will best supplement instruction for their children, and I also answer any questions about how to use the materials. As a reading specialist (MA Reading Specialist), I am skilled reading diagnostician. If you have need of these services, click HERE for further information.

Grammar/Mechanics, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,