Phonics in 10 Minutes

This post is for parents concerned about their child’s reading; for news and social media junkies who want to intelligently respond to current events, such as the recent dramatic improvement in Mississippi reading scores due, largely, to a re-emphasis on phonics; for elementary teachers who never had a phonics course in their teaching credential program; for secondary teachers who wonder, “Should I be teaching phonics to my frosh English students who can barely read?”; and for literacy coaches and reading specialists, like me, who want a quick start user guide to present to parents and teachers. In this 10-minute read, you’ll find out what the following terms mean and what they have to do with teaching phonics, enough to keep you from sounding stupid in any job interview or lunch conversation with other parents, principals, teachers, language coaches, and reading specialists.

Think of this as a Quick Start User Guide to Phonics. In order of appearance: phonics, phonemes, graphemes, decoding, encoding, synthetic phonics, explicit and systematic phonics, sound-spellings, decodables, sound-by-sound blending, slanted /lines/, consonant blends, consonant digraphs, analytic phonics, onsets, rimes, word families, diphthongs, embedded phonics, implicit and incidental instruction, cueing systems, MSV, guided reading, r-controlled vowels, silent final e, instructional phonics sequence, continuous sounds

Definitions

Let’s begin by defining phonics. Simply put, phonics is how we use the 26 letters of the alphabet as a code to represent our English phonemes (the fancy way of saying the 43 or 44 speech sounds). We put together these written speech sounds (called graphemes if you want to sound impressive) to read words. This is known as decoding. The Latin prefix, “de” means away from or out of, which helps us remember that decoding is making meaning out of the letter combinations. The other side of the language coin from decoding is encodingThe Latin prefix, “en” means in or into, which helps us remember that encoding is making the graphemes into words. To keep it simple: Decoding is sounding-out the words to be able to read them, and encoding is spelling the words.

Now that we have a definition of phonics, let’s take a look at the three approaches to phonics instruction. In our brief analysis, you’ll learn the key components of phonics instruction in the key instructional activities and the methods used by each phonics approach to teach them. To be clear, each approach helps students learn the phonics rules; it’s the how they are learned that differs. As an aside, these three methods of teaching phonics are the main points of contention in the never-ending Reading Wars, and the battles within each approach are just as contentious as those among the three approaches.

Types of Phonics Approaches

Animal Sound-Spelling Cards

1. Synthetic Phonics: In this approach, teachers help students learn how to convert the 26 letters of the alphabet into the 43 or 44 English phonemes (speech sounds) and then blend these individual sounds to read words. The teacher introduces the graphemes (the spellings) for each of these phonemes in explicit, systematic instruction. Explicit means direct and sometimes isolated instruction that is unconnected to text. Systematic means planned, structured, and sequenced instruction.

Key Instructional Activities: The sound-spelling card (to the right) is a key instructional component of synthetic phonics. For example, students first learn the sounds and spellings listed on the three cards. (Previously, students had learned the /s/ on the seagull card and the /n/ on the newt card before the teacher introduces the sn_ on the snack card.)

Another key instructional activity is sound-by-sound blending. The teacher asks students to say the consonant blend sounds on the snack card; say the vowel sound on the iguana card; say the  consonant digraph sound on the cheetah card; and then blend the word, snitch. Students are taught the phonics rule that the _tch spelling follows short vowel sounds.

A third synthetic activity is the use of decodables. Decodables are short books, designed to practice specific sound-spellings introduced in the sound-by-sound blending activities. Decodables also review previously learned sound-spellings. Typically, a limited number of non-decodable sight words are used so that students build confidence in using their phonics skills.

*Note: The slanted /lines/ indicate sounds. The _blanks_ indicate that other letters must come before and/or after the spelling. A consonant blend is two or three consonants that frequently appear together at the start or end of syllables. A vowel, most commonly a, e, i, o, and u, appears in every syllable. A consonant digraph is two consonants which form one sound.

Rimes

Word Families

2. Analytic (Analogy) Phonics: Teaches students to look at the whole word, especially the onset (the beginning letter or letters) and rime (the sound pattern known as a word family), and to compare to similarly structured words which are already known.

Key Instructional Activities: For example, the teacher might teach the consonant blends br, cr, dr,  and fr as onsets and the rime, own (rhymes with down). Students practice combining the onsets and rimes as br-own, cr-own, dr-own, and fr-own. In the next lesson the teacher might teach the consonant blends gr, thr, and the consonant digraph sh as onsets and the rime, own (rhymes with phone).

Analytic phonics may include explicit and systematic instruction. Teachers introduce the rimes (word families) by syllable types.

*Note: The “ow” spelling in “own” as in brown is a diphthong. A diphthong is a vowel team in which two sounds are made. However, the the “ow” spelling in “own” as in shown is a vowel digraph. A vowel digraph is a vowel team in which only one sound is made.

3. Embedded Phonics: Teaches students phonics within the context of reading as needed to cue the pronunciation of a word. In contrast to the explicit and systematic instruction of the synthetic and analytic approaches, embedded phonics utilizes an implicit, incidental methodology. Phonics skills are learned deductively from the whole to the part as one of the three cueing systems for comprehension i.e., 1. M = Meaning 2. S = Structure (sentence structure, grammar, word order) 3. V = Visual (phonics, onsets and rimes, sight words).

Key Instructional Activities: The teacher groups readers by reading levels and students chorally and individually read a book together. When students struggle with the pronunciation of a word, they apply specific strategies to logically guess the pronunciation. For example, “What’s the sound of the first letter in this word? What word would make sense withe other words in the sentence? What hint does the picture on the page provide as to how to say it?”

The r-Controlled Vowels

A typical embedded phonics lesson might be planned as a mini lesson from a guided reading lesson on a book which uses a number of r-controlled vowels. After an initial reading, the teacher might ask students to search for and create a sorted list for all words using the /ar/, /or/, and /er/ spellings found on the cards to the right. Often, teachers use running records assessments of oral readings to determine the content of the mini lessons.

Silent Final e

 

Teachers may share the silent final rule in which the final at the end of a syllable makes the preceding vowel say its name (a long vowel sound) when a single consonant is found between the vowel and the final silent final e. For example, using the cards below, teachers could ask the group for example words of the a_e, i_e, o_e, and u_e spellings to create a word wall. Students might then write a story, using as many silent final words as possible.

Instructional Phonics Sequence

Generally speaking, all three phonics approaches follow a similar instructional order.

1. The most common sounds are introduced prior to the least common sounds.

  • Short vowels and consonant sounds
  • Ending consonant blends and “sh” and “th” voiced consonant digraphs
  • Beginning consonant blends, “wh” and “tch” consonant digraphs, “sh” and “th” unvoiced consonant digraphs
  • Long vowel sounds and silent final e
  • Long vowel sounds and r-controlled vowels
  • Diphthongs

2. Order of instruction separates letters that are visually similar e.g., p and b, m and n, v and w, u and n.

3. Order of instruction separates sounds that are similar e.g., /k/ and /g/, /u/ and /o/, /t/ and /d/, /e/ and /i/.

4. The most commonly used letters are introduced prior to the least commonly used letters.

5. Short words with fewer phonemes are introduced prior to longer words with more phonemes.

6. Continuous sounds e.g., /a/, /m/, are introduced prior to stop sounds e.g., /t/ because the continuous sounds are easier to blend.Check out Pennington Publishing’s Instructional Phonics Sequence with sound-by-sound spelling blending:

Get the Instructional Phonics Sequence FREE Resource:

Get the Animal Sound-Spelling Cards FREE Resource:

*****

My take? Synthetic phonics is the most efficient means of teaching the alphabetic code and should be taught systematically as part of any beginning reading program or reading intervention program. However, good reading and spelling programs provide additional analytic phonics activities, such as syllabication and spelling pattern word sorts. Plus, while most students learn with a synthetic approach, others respond best with an analytic approach. Good teachers also use incidental embedded phonics instruction as teachable moments to study words in depth as they use shared and guided reading. The best means of determining whether any method of reading instruction is working? Assessment. Flexible teachers use data to inform instruction and the instructional approach to meet the needs of individual students.

Get the Diagnostic Reading  and Spelling Assessments FREE Resource:

I’m Mark Pennington, author of  the Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program). This program provides all the resources teachers need for flexible, student-centered reading instruction. The program 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. 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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each book includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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 and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

 

 

 

 

 

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The Phonics Wars

Phonics Wars

The Phonics Wars

The Reading Wars have largely centered on one key issue of contention: How to Teach Phonics. More aptly named, the Phonics Wars have been going on since the 1950s. Different sides will occasionally declare victory when new research comes out or when new test results are released, such as the recent Mississippi NAEP improvement, and claim that the wars are over. Locally, among your district, county, or state colleagues, there may be a ceasefire; however, nationally and internationally the wars continue to rage on. The best evidence to support this fact? Facebook reading instruction groups. Believe me, the battle lines are still drawn. Even within the same type of phonics, some of the toughest battles are being waged e.g., the current International Dyslexic Association v. International Literacy Association accusations and name-calling.

This post is designed to get you up to speed about the three approaches to phonics, the key instructional activities, the programs and supporters, and the lingo used by advocates. My instructional goal is help you classify reading strategies, lessons, and activities according to the three approaches to phonics.

Three Approaches to Phonics

1. Synthetic Phonics: Teaches students to convert the 26 letters of the alphabet into the 43 or 44 English phonemes (speech sounds e.g., /sh/) and then blend these sounds to read syllables and words. This is known as decoding. Students also learn to use the graphemes (the letters or groups of letters which represent the common phoneme spellings, also known as sound-spellings) to spell the syllables and words. This is known as encoding. Both decoding and encoding are taught together in synthetic phonics.

Example: Individual sounds: sh-ow-n Blended sounds: shown

*Note: The slanted /lines/ indicate sounds. The _blanks_ indicate that other letters must come before and/or after the spelling.

Key Instructional Activities: Sound-by-Sound Blending, Sound-Spelling Cards, Decodable Book Practice, direct spelling pattern instruction

Programs and Supporters: Read 180®, Open Court, SRA, LETRS, Success for All, LiPS®, Wilson Reading System® and Fundations, Orton-Gillingham, Language! Live®, Hooked on Phonics®, Saxon Phonics®, Fundations, SRA Corrective Reading, International Dyslexic Association, International Literacy Association

Lingo: The Science of Reading, structured, explicit, systematic, sound-out, alphabetic code, , word identification, word attack

2. Analytic (Analogy) Phonics: Teaches students to look at the whole word, especially the onset (the beginning letter or letters) and rime (the sound pattern known as a word family), and to compare to similarly structured words which are already known.

Example: sh-ock like the words st-ock and kn-ock

Key Instructional Activities: Word sorts, word family flashcards, rhyming books, spelling patterns

Programs and Supporters: Words Their Way®, Making Words, International Literacy Association, Dr. Seuss

Lingo: Word families, onsets and rimes, word sorts. “Get your mouth ready…”, word recognition, high frequency words, whole to part

3. Embedded Phonics: Teaches students phonics within the context of reading as needed to cue the pronunciation of a word. Phonics skills are learned deductively from the whole to the part as one of the three cueing strategies for comprehension i.e., 1. M = Meaning 2. S = Structure (sentence structure, grammar, word order) 3. V = Visual (phonics, onsets and rimes, sight words)

Example: “What’s the sound of the first letter in this word?” From the other words in the sentence, what would be your best guess as to how to say it?

Key Instructional Activities: Mini lessons, predictable texts, picture walks, guided reading, shared reading

Programs and Supporters: Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention, Reading Recovery, HMH Journeys , HMH Into Reading, Units of Study for Teaching Reading Series

Lingo: Whole Language, Balanced Literacy, Structured Literacy, guided reading, shared reading, leveled books, authentic reading, word walls, high frequency sight words, strategic guessing

*****

My take? Synthetic phonics is the most efficient means of teaching the alphabetic code and should be taught systematically as part of any beginning reading program or reading intervention program. However, good reading and spelling programs provide additional analytic phonics activities, such as syllabication and spelling pattern word sorts. Plus, while most students learn with a synthetic approach, others respond best with an analytic approach. Good teachers also use incidental embedded phonics instruction as teachable moments to study words in depth as they use shared and guided reading. The best means of determining whether any method of reading instruction is working? Assessment. Flexible teachers use data to inform instruction and the instructional approach to meet the needs of individual students.

Get the Diagnostic Reading  and Spelling Assessments FREE Resource:

I’m Mark Pennington, author of  the Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program). This program provides all the resources teachers need for flexible, student-centered reading instruction. The program 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. 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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each book includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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 and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

 

 

 

 

 

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FREE Reading and Spelling Assessments

Diagnostic Literacy Assessments

Diagnostic Reading and Spelling Assessments

FREE READING AND SPELLING ASSESSMENTS for READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM PLACEMENT and ASSESSMENT-BASED INSTRUCTION

Phonemic Awareness Assessments (Paper 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 (Paper Copy) *

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 (Paper Copy) *

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 Sight Words)(Paper 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 (Paper 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 (Paper 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 (Paper 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).

Diagnostic Spelling Assessment (Paper Copy) *

Use this comprehensive diagnostic assessment to pinpoint all sound-spelling patterns learned from kindergarten through eighth grade. This 102 item eighth grade test pinpoints spelling deficits and equips the teacher to individualize instruction according to the assessment-data. The author’s Grades 4-8 Differentiated Spelling Instruction programs and the comprehensive Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4-8 programs provide weekly spelling tests with spelling sorts, plus targeted worksheets to remediate each unknown assessment sound-spelling. Each worksheet includes a spelling sort and formative assessment.

* Placement Assessments

*****

You can help turn struggling and vulnerable students into confident and skilled readers with the Teaching Reading Strategies program.

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) 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. 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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each book includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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 and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

FREE DOWNLOADS TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

 

 

 

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

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Reading Intervention Programs

When teachers and administrators are looking for a reading intervention program, they will find no shortage of expensive, “research-based,” high tech options. Countless districts and school sites have invested huge slices of their annual general funds to purchase big publisher programs that have produced minimal gains in reading achievement. Perhaps the “You get what you pay for” truism doesn’t always deliver with regards to effective reading intervention programs.

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

  • Less computer-based instruction and 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 Guided Reading Phonics Books, and the digital display game cards, 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 their students.
  • 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 1283 page program has been written by and field tested by a teacher just like you, Mark Pennington MA reading specialist.

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) featuring the Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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.

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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, vocabulary worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each books includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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.

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

Sound-by-Sound Spelling Blending

he scripted sound-spelling blending instructional sequence will help students learn to read all of the common sound-spellings in just 18 weeks of synthetic phonics instruction.

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.

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 are used in instructional activities and games. Three formats are provided: 1. Print and Cut 2. Phone Display 3. Tablet and Chromebook Display. 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, Outlaw Words 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

Sam and Friends Phonics Books Hi-Lo Readers

Sam and Friends 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 Sound-Spelling Blending activity) and sight words. Students learn the blends and practice them in the decodable Sam and Friends books. The 5 comprehension questions per story are ideal for guided reading instruction and parent-supervised homework.

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 sight words.

Each story has a custom-designed running record assessment with 200 words. Teachers may choose to complete running records on unpracticed or practiced books and may decide to assess with every book, once a week, or at the end of the phonics collection.  

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.

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) 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. 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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each book includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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 and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

FREE DOWNLOADS TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

 

 

 

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic ELA and Reading Assessments FREE Resource:

 

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e-Comments Writing Feedback

Google Comment Bank v. e-Comments

Save time and provide better writing feedback with the e-Comments Chrome Extension. Insert hundreds of canned comments from four different comment levels into Google docs and slides with just one click from the pop-up e-Comments menu. Each instructional comment identifies, explains, and shows your writers how to revise a specific writing issue in stories, essays, and reports. These comprehensive comments don’t simply flag errors; they help your writers learn.

Check out the FAQs:

  • Can I edit these comments and comments categories? Yes, they are completely customizable.
  • Can I add, format, and save my own writing comments to the e-Comment menu? Yes, and you can create your own e-Comment menu sets.
  • Can I record audio, video, and speech-to-text comments? Yes. Is there integration with Google Classroom? Yes. Can I add and save my own comment sets? Yes.
  • Can I try before I buy? Yes. FREE 10-Day Trial!

Google Classroom 2020 Comment Bank v. e-Comments

Google Classroom 2020 Comment Bank v. e-Comments

Writing Feedback

Writing Feedback

10 Reasons to Use the e-Comments Extension

10 Reasons to Use the e-Comments Extension

How Many Essay Comments and What Kind

How Many Essay Comments and What Kind

How to Save Time Grading Essays

How to Save Time Grading Essays

How Much and What to Mark on Essays

How Much and What to Mark on Essays

Writing Feedback Research

Writing Feedback Research

How to Write Effective Essay Comments

How to Write Effective Essay Comments

Insertable Canned Comments

Insertable Canned Comments

Google Classroom Comment Bank and e-Comments

Google Classroom Comment Bank and e-Comments

 

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Google Classroom 2020 Comment Bank v. e-Comments

In this article I’l demonstrate how to use the newest version of the Google Classroom Comment Bank to insert writing feedback into your students’ Google docs and slides. I’ll also save you some frustration by giving you a “heads up” about some of the problems you’ll encounter when setting up and using the Comment Bank. Lastly, I’ll attempt to prove why using my e-Comments Chrome Extension may be a much better option for most teachers working in Google Classroom.

Add your free 10-day trial of the e-Comments Chrome Extension after you discover how using e-Comments in Google Classroom is faster, easier, and far more functional than using the Google Comment Bank.

Creating the Google Comment Bank

After opening a student assignment in Google Classroom, click the Comment Bank icon in the upper right corner. The Google Comment Bank is empty, so teachers will need to type in their own comments or copy and paste a list of comments. Unfortunately, Google Classroom only provides one Comment Bank, so think about which comments you plan to use for all of your assignments and classes before you fill up the bank.

If you’re thinking of inserting a number of comments, take the time to organize and group the comments before you copy and paste, because the Comment Bank display won’t sort or order those comments for you. And don’t waste any of your time formatting your list. They paste as unformatted into the Google Comment Bank and Google permits only minimal formatting once the comments are entered.

Inserting Comments from the Google Comment Bank

So once you’ve got some comments stored in the Google Comment Bank, you’re ready to annotate your student’s essay. When you find a writing issue to address, double click or highlight the word or section and search up and down the comment bank for the comment you wish to insert. Click on the comment; click on “Copy to Clipboard,” click on the comment box, type Control-v to paste the comment; click outside the box; and click the comment button. Voila! The selected comment appears in the Google comment box in the right margin. If you were counting, it took eight separate clicks to insert one comment. Not great, but probably faster than red-inking the same comment on a student’s paper.

You’ll notice that scrolling up and down to find the comment you want to insert can be time-consuming and frustrating if you have more than a few comments in the bank. Google tries to solve this problem by providing an alternative method for selecting comments: a key word search in the comment box.

Here’s how you use this method: Type in a hashtag followed by a key word from the comment you are looking for, a list of comment options pops up. Of course, before you use this method, you’ve got to know which comment you want to use and what it says in order to type in the key word. Often, you’ll wind up trying a few key words to narrow down the comment choices before you find the right one, especially because your writing comments tend to use many of the same words. Playing the search for the right comment game does get old very quickly, but it works better than scrolling up and down the Comments Bank display. Unfortunately, it still takes seven clicks to insert a comment with this method.

Using e-Comments in Google Classroom

In contrast to the Google Comments Bank, the e-Comments Chrome Extension was designed by an ELA teacher for teachers and their students. It shows!

The e-Comments menu provides hundreds of customizable canned comments, written in four comment sets: Grades 3–6, 6–9, 9–12, and College/Workplace. These Common Core-aligned comments don’t just identify writing errors; they help your students learn. For example, if students are overusing “to-be” verbs in their writing, simply commenting, “Too many ‘to be’ verbs,” doesn’t help students if they don’t know what the “to-be” verbs are or the revision strategies to eliminate them. The e-Comments identify and explain the writing issues and show students how to revise.

Revise Too Many “to be” Verbs: Limit using so many “to be” verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. To replace “to be” verbs: 1. Substitute a more active verb. 2. Convert one of the words in the sentence to a verb form. 3. Change the beginning of the sentence. 4. Combine the sentence which has the “to be” verb with the sentence before or after to use another stronger and specific verb.

Substitute Example: The child was sad.

Revision: The child felt sad.

Convert Example: Charles Schulz was the creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip.

Revision: Charles Schulz created the Peanuts cartoon strip.

Change Example: The run-away car will be stopped by the tire spikes.

Revision: The tire spikes will stop the run-away car.

Combine Example: The sensitive child is terrified. She is feeling that way because of the news story.

Revision: The news story terrified the sensitive child.

So why re-invent the wheel by writing your own comments?

Unlike the hard-to-search and unorganized Google Comments Bank, the e-Comments menu lets you see all of your comment options at a glance, neatly categorized into writing comment categories. Of course you won’t use all of these comments, but they’re there if you need them. And the e-Comments menu is completely customizable. Move it wherever you want or hide it if you wish. Add, delete, substitute, or rearrange any writing comment categories and comments.

It’s easy to differentiate instruction by switching among the four comment levels to insert remedial or advanced comments. Plus, add your own custom comment sets for different assignments and classes. Wahoo!

While inserting a comment from the Google Comment Bank takes seven or eight clicks, only two clicks are needed with e-Comments. That makes a huge difference when your grading a whole batch of assignments. Simply click once or highlight where you want to comment, and then click the abbreviated comment button to automatically insert the comment. Faster, easier, and much less physical wear and tear.

Also, it does no good to add writing feedback if your students won’t read it. You can personalize  your comments and make them stand out with e-Comments. The program permits full formatting options for any comments you choose to add and save. Plus, e-Comments allows teachers to insert speech-to-text, audio, and video comments and save to separate folders to keep your Google Drive uncluttered.

The fact that the e-Comments Chrome Extension works in and out of Google Classroom is the best reason to add and use this program. Here’s why: Good writing teachers know that while summative writing feedback, along with rubric scores, and a final grade can be instructive, it’s the formative writing feedback on rough drafts that has the most impact on teaching students how to improve their writing. And, of course, students are much more motivated to learn from your comments when doing so will improve their assignment grades.

Unfortunately, Google Classroom does not permit students to see any of your comments in their views of Google Classroom until after you enter the grades and return their assignments. This means that when students open their graded assignments, they can’t revise their work according to your suggestions. However, the e-Comments program lets you comment on rough drafts and students can see these comments and revise their work before turning it in for a grade.

Here’s how to grade student rough drafts. It only takes two extra clicks. With the student’s assignment opened in Google Classroom, click on icon in the upper right corner following the student’s name that says, “Open in new window”. You’ll get the same student assignment without the Google Classroom grading tools. Click the e-Comments icon to activate the extension and insert your comments. Students are able to view the comments as you enter them. You may wish to click “Share” when you finish commenting to alert the student.

Students read your comments and revise their writing accordingly. They can also use the “Reply” button to ask you questions about your comments and you can reply back. To hold students accountable for reading and responding specifically to your comments, I require students to make all revisions in red font and keep (not resolve) my comments. I give additional points for showing me these revisions. Of course, if you are a superstar teacher, you could add additional comments to help students polish their final drafts.

After the student turns in the assignment, you can open Google Classroom once again to grade, score the rubric, and add summative comments. One final suggestion: I would avoid typing comments in the “Private Comment” box. There’s no way to edit or delete once you post this comment.

Clearly, the Google Comment Bank will help teachers save time compared to red-inking a stack of papers. However, I think you’ll agree that e-Comments is quicker, easier to use, and much more functional. Add your free 10-day trial of the e-Comments Chrome Extension today! Simply click “Add to Chrome” and the e-Comments icon will be added to your Chrome Extension Toolbar. Make sure to take a look at the one-page Quick Start User Guide and the training video to see all the program features. Once you’re sure you want it for keeps, click the “Purchase/Activate License” page and pay the one-time fee. It’s only the cost of a few cups of coffee!

Want to see this article as a video? Check it out: The Video

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Google Classroom Comment Bank and e-Comments

For years, teachers have been looking for ways to streamline the grading and annotation of student essays, stories, and reports. And now, add slide presentations, photographs, videos, and more! Teachers want to assign more of this work, but more student work means more grading time. Teachers also want to provide quality writing feedback to help students improve their work, but again this takes time.

Enter Google. Google’s investment in education has been a gradual and sometimes frustrating evolution. The comments feature added into Google docs and slides in 2014 was a prime reason why teachers started using Google docs and Google Drive for student writing submissions. And now, with the 2018 update of Google Classroom and the additions of a comment bank and the beta version of a rubric creator, teachers finally have the beginnings of tools that will both improve the efficiency of their workflow and improve writing feedback to students.

With these steps, Google has put other learning management systems on notice that the company is in education for the long haul. As of this writing, the number of Google Classroom users (both teachers and students) has passed 40,000,000. Much like what Jobs and Wozniak accomplished with their free Apple IIe computer to every school in California in 1982, Google’s free Google Suite for Educators, including Google Classroom, has largely cornered the educational market. The bottom line for teachers? Don’t fight; give in to Google.

However, the problem for teachers is that Google is a tech (and advertising) company, and its product leads and developers are techies, not teachers. Google does listen to what teachers say, and much of the improvement in Google Classroom has been credited to teacher suggestions. Hence, revisions tend to be piecemeal, not comprehensive. What Google has done is to permit Chrome extensions, which integrate seamlessly with Google Classroom.

e-Comments Options

e-Comments Menu

Enter e-Comments. Teachers can significantly improve the efficiency and quality of the Google Classroom comment bank by adding the e-Comments Chrome Extension. Which features make e-Comments significantly better than the Google Comment Bank?

  1. While the Google Comment Bank (GCB) has no canned comments (teachers have to type in their own), e-Comments (e-C) has hundreds of customizable comments from which to choose at four grade levels: Grades 3–6, 6–9, 9–12, and College/Workplace. Why re-invent the wheel?
  2. The GCB permits minimal formatting for adding comments, while e-C provides full formatting for any comments you choose to add and save. Plus, e-C allows teachers to insert speech-to-text, audio, and video comments and save to separate folders to keep your Google Drive uncluttered. Your comments should stand out if you want students to read them.
  3. The GCB comments are stored in the order in which you added them and so are in random order, but the e-C comments are neatly organized into 11 categories, making the comments much easier to choose. Writing comment categories just make sense.
  4. To access the GCB comments, teachers have to scroll up and down the GCB or enter a hashtag # followed by a key word to bring up the desired comment. Once a teacher adds in more than a dozen comments, it often takes several tries or additional key words to find the desired comment. Frustrating and time-consuming! To access e-C, teachers simply click the comment button once on the movable and editable e-Comments Menu. Unlike GCB, teachers can see all of their comment choices before inserting a comment. It’s easy to add and save your own comments to the menu, edit the canned comments, create or re-name writing comment categories, hide or rearrange the categories.
  5. The GCB provides only one comment bank. Clearly, all your comments for a story are not applicable for an essay or a multi-media project. Plus, many teachers would like to have different comments for different students, classes, and assignments. With e-C, teachers can easily switch among the comment levels to differentiate their annotations. Add a remedial comment for X, but an advanced comment for Y. Teachers can add and save their own comment banks with e-C for different classes and assignments. GCB provides a one size fits all approach; e-C permits far more flexible options to meet the needs of students and their teachers.
  6. Clearly, once teachers insert all their comments into the GCB, they will save time compared to red-inking a stack of papers. As detailed above and in side-by-side timings, e-C will save significantly more time than using the GCB while providing students comments that identify, explain, and show how to revise. If all you want to do is error mark, GCB will do nicely; if you want your students to learn from your comments, e-C is for you. Plus, e-C provides the Common Core-aligned comments that you will want to copy and paste into your Google Classroom rubrics and Grading Tool commentsAdd your free 10-day trial of the e-Comments Chrome Extension today! You can both save time and provide better writing feedback with Google Classroom.

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Reading Out Loud

Biden Stuttering Challenge“Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden, what’s that word?” a nun asked Joe Biden in front of his seventh-grade classmates.

It’s a seventh grade in a Catholic school in Delaware. The teacher, a nun, is doing a read-around of a story about Sir Walter Raleigh. Students take their turns reading out loud in front of the class. Some are nervously awaiting their turns; others, like young Joe Biden, are petrified. Why so? Biden is a stutterer. The nun calls upon Biden to read. Biden is not surprised; he knows that he is the fifth student to be called upon, because the nun is choosing students in alphabetic order. Like many students, instead of reading along silently with the other students, Biden has been practicing the paragraph he predicts will be his to read. Biden begins to read out loud and stumbles over the word, gentleman. The nun cruelly mocks him to correct his pronunciation.

“Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden, what’s that word?” the nun asks.

Biden says he rose from his desk and left the classroom in protest, then walked home. The family story is that his mother, Jean, drove him back to school and confronted the nun with the made-for-TV phrase ‘You do that again, I’ll knock your bonnet off your head!’ I ask Biden what went through his mind as the nun mocked him.

‘Anger, rage, humiliation,’ he says. His speech becomes staccato. ‘A feeling of, uh… it just drops out of your chest, just, like, you feel … a void.’

“What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say,” John Hendrickson, The Atlantic

Other sources confirm that bullying was not limited to this one instance with the nun: “As a child, Biden struggled with a stutter, and kids called him ‘Dash’ and ‘Joe Impedimenta’ to mock him. He eventually overcame his speech impediment by memorizing long passages of poetry and reciting them out loud in front of the mirror” (https://www.biography.com/political-figure/joe-biden).

Biden recounts how he coped with reading out loud in front of the class when students would take turns reading a book, one by one, up and down the rows: “I could count down how many paragraphs, and I’d memorize it, because I found it easier to memorize than look at the page and read the word. I’d pretend to be reading,’ Biden says. “You learned early on who the hell the bullies were” (Hendrickson).

Did you know?

“In the most basic sense, a stutter is a repetition, prolongation, or block in producing a sound. It typically presents between the ages of 2 and 4, in up to twice as many boys as girls, who also have a higher recovery rate. During the develop­mental years, some children’s stutter will disappear completely without intervention or with speech therapy. The longer someone stutters, however, the lower the chances of a full recovery—­perhaps due to the decreasing plasticity of the brain. Research suggests that no more than a quarter of people who still stutter at 10 will completely rid themselves of the affliction as adults” (Hendrickson).

Vice-President Biden largely overcame the repetitious stammering that is widely understood as stuttering. With the help of brief speech therapy and practice, Biden’s stuttering is nowhere near as pronounced, nor as problematic, as that of King George VI. You no doubt have seen the Academy Award Winner, The King’s Speech and the king’s struggles with public speaking. However, Biden still blocks on certain sounds. In The Atlantic article quoted above, Biden describes in detail and models how he prepares for speeches and debates. He writes out key phrases and clauses and uses his own coding system of marks and slashes to indicate accents, pauses, and breaths. When speaking extemporaneously, Biden uses circumlocution (word or phrase substitution) as a coping strategy to switch to more easily pronounced sounds. Often, people notice what appear to be unnatural pauses as Biden searches for alternate words. Occasionally, these substitutions produce forced syntax (the order of words in a sentence) or even gaffes. Obviously, Biden’s stuttering doesn’t explain all of his verbal miscues, but perhaps more can be attributed to this challenge than we think.

For our purposes, Joe Biden’s story can be instructive as we teach and practice reading in the classroom. 

A few points from this M.A. Reading Specialist (yours truly), who of course, loved to read out loud in class:

Why Reading Out Loud is Important

Reading out loud helps developing readers practice their reading skills. Only by practicing reading out loud can students hear and adjust to pitch, vocal variation, accents, and attention to punctuation (Shakthawatt). Additionally, reading research confirms that reading out loud improves automaticity in terms of sounding-out phonetically regular words, blending multi-syllabic words, and recalling sight words (non-phonetic memory words). These skills do transfer to silent reading fluency.

Reading out loud is a necessary social skill. Students need to be prepared for public speaking. Adults will be called upon to read in front of audiences in meetings, business, church, etc. Again, allowing student to practice in advance, as Vice-President Biden does, affords optimal performance and less stigma.

When teachers listen to students reading out loud, the teacher can provide helpful feedback and correction. Obviously, teachers can’t correct a student’s silent reading.

What Kind of Reading Out Loud is Effective

Assessment: 

Most teachers use individual fluency assessments (download a free diagnostic at the end of this article) in which students read out loud for a set time. Teachers record the number of words read during the prescribed time, less the miscues, on a progress monitoring matrix. reading assessments to monitor reading fluency progress are we, but the one student-teacher reading is a controlled experience. Ensuring that the assessment is administered privately, away from the class, will reduce student anxiety and produce more accurate results.

Many teachers use running records to analyze and correct student miscues during guided reading. Suggestion: Rather than pulling aside a student to read individually, why not sit behind or next to the focus student and listen in as all students in the group are reading?

Practice:

Use choral reading fluency practice in which students are grouped by fluency levels. The student reads with others, not to others.

Practice reading with a modeled reader. Online readings at the students’ challenge levels is helpful and improves fluency, including accuracy and speed. Check out my reading intervention program below, which includes 43 YouTube expository articles, read at three different speeds for ideal modeled reading practice.

Repeated readings out loud produces transferable gains to cold, unpracticed reading. One effective technique is for a guided reading group to non-chorally read with six-inch quiet voices (not whispering) short texts over and over again. In other words, students read at individual paces, not in unison with others. To facilitate, the teacher can stagger start times. Students get used to the white noise of others quietly reading, and teachers can listen in to individuals and even take running records.

Paired reading out loud can be beneficial if care is provided to match students, in terms of reading fluency levels, and compatibility.

What Kind of Reading Out Loud is Not Effective

Isolated reading out loud in front of peers is counter-productive, not only for stutterers, but also for below grade level readers, ELL, ESL, ESOL students, special education students, shy students, etc. Traditional methods of isolated reading out loud include the following: round-robin (take turns in a certain order to prevent surprise), popcorn (call on students to intentionally surprise and ensure that they are following along), and guided reading, in which students take turns and the teacher completes running record assessments of the individual readers.

Don’t use individual students to read through a story (even if students volunteer to read). First, calling on individuals to read interrupts the flow of the reading and reduces listening comprehension. Second, why select a non-fluent reader, who will make mistakes, or even the best student reader in class and so ensure less than optimal listening comprehension? Instead, to facilitate optimal listening comprehension and the best modeled reading, the teacher or audio book narrator should read the story out loud with occasional pauses to discuss a passage. To build independence, avoid reading every line of text out loud. 

Don’t practice any individual reading out loud that takes away from the entire class reading out loud. Any form of individual reading in which a student only reads out loud for 30 seconds in a 15 minute read-aloud is not adequate practice.

Not all choral reading practice is ideal. When students, led by the teacher, are expected to read chorally, the teacher is forced to read too-slowly for the fluent readers, just right for some readers, and far too quickly for less fluent readers. Teachers can’t put what belongs in a small group or individual box into a whole class box. Only practice choral reading in the context of level reading fluency groups, in which each student is reading at a certain reading fluency.

Get the The Pets Fluency Assessment FREE Resource:

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Reading Intervention Program) 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. 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: phonemic awareness activities, synthetic phonics blending and syllabication practice, phonics workshops with formative assessments, expository comprehension worksheets, 102 spelling pattern assessments, reading strategies worksheets, 123 multi-level fluency passage videos recorded at three different reading speeds, writing skills worksheets, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards (includes print-ready and digital display versions) to play entertaining learning games.

In addition to these resources, the program features the popular Sam and Friends Guided Reading 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 has two great guided reading activities: a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns and 5 higher-level comprehension questions. Additionally, each book includes an easy-to-use running record if you choose to assess. 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 and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

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