Lindamood-Bell Called!

Dear Readers,

I’ve been busy lately. For the past three and a half weeks I’ve been working at Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers for the summer. The first two weeks were training. I have to tell you that it was brutal. It was two weeks of teleconferencing with the 54 other centers across the country.

Don’t get me wrong, the training was fantastic with a lot of good information, but it was a bit overwhelming . So, long story short, I’ve been working there for nearly a month. It’s a little different than teaching. For one thing, it’s regimented and kinda’ scripted. I like working there because everyone is so nice. In fact, everyone tries to “out-nice” each other. It’s a really good place to work.

The pay is not good, but the experience is wonderful. I’ll see how much I can learn to teach my future students and keep you posted.

Bye for now!

The Real Reason why children fidget! by Angela Hanscom

Dear Readers,

I found this excellent article that purports to explain why children fidget. Read this and see if you agree. Enjoy!

WHY CHILDREN FIDGET: And what we can do about it
Angela Hanscom – Thursday, June 05, 2014

A perfect stranger pours her heart out to me over the phone. She complains that her six-year-old son is unable to sit still in the classroom. The school wants to test him for ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder). This sounds familiar, I think to myself. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’ve noticed that this is a fairly common problem today.

The mother goes on to explain how her son comes home every day with a yellow smiley face. The rest of his class goes home with green smiley faces for good behavior. Every day this child is reminded that his behavior is unacceptable, simply because he can’t sit still for long periods of time.

The mother starts crying. “He is starting to say things like, ‘I hate myself’ and ‘I’m no good at anything.’” This young boy’s self-esteem is plummeting all because he needs to move more often.Read More »

A Center in a Bag!

Dear Readers,

I have a story I just have to tell. It’s about my older sister (even though she tells everyone I’m older), who I’ll call Brown Girl. She is so giving. She is always giving me & the rest of our family gifts.

Even though this gift she gave me today is not even the biggest gift she’s given me, it was really what I needed. You see she gave me 25 books with the accompanying audio tapes. This is significant because I was just reading another teaching blog about the teacher having a listening center. Since I had older students I didn’t think to have a listening center. Add to the fact that my school had no resources. Well, now, thanks to my sister, I have the following titles:

  1. This Is The Way We Go to School by Edith Baer
  2. Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger
  3. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  4. Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  5. Geraldine’s Big Snow by Holly Keller
  6. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
  7. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by (Adapted by) Freya Littledale
  8. The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston
  9. My Favorite Time of Year by Susan Pearson
  10. Clifford’s Halloween Fun by Norman Bridwell
  11. Jamberry by Bruce Degen
  12. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  13. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
  14. Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch (duplicate)
  15. The Brave Little Tailor by (Retold by) Freya Littledale
  16. Sally’s Room by M.K. Brown
  17. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato
  18. The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy
  19. Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy While Carlstrom
  20. Grandma and the Pirates by Phoebe Gilman
  21. Clifford, We Love You by Norman Bridwell
  22. It’s Valentine’s Day by Jack Prelutsky
  23. Chicken Soup With Rice by Maurice Sendak
  24. Curious George Rides a Bike by H.A. Rey
  25. The Popcorn Dragon by Jane Thayer

Even though some of these title are for young children, I will use these to make up my listening center. I’m going to plop them into some bags, label them, and create some other sort of activities to go with them. So there you have it- A center in a bag!

By the way, if you know of any activities I can use to make this center more interesting, feel free to drop me a comment!


Learning Formula

Dear Readers, I was talking to my husband today about learning and if there’s a formula for it. That’s what jogged my memory regarding a formula I came up with. It’s pretty simple & straightforward.

Here it is: Learning the information + Making a connection with the information + Application of the information= Synthesis of information.

If you’re a teacher, have you found this to be true? Let me know what you think!

Elkonin Boxes & Its Uses! (For Mary t.)

***This post is for Mary t. (sorry about the transposed letters). I hope this answers your questions. If not, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.***

Recently I posted about Elkonin boxes and how I have been having much success with them. I also linked to some other posts of mine regarding their usage. Click here and here. Now let me further explain how I use them.

Here’s a picture of an Elkonin box with three boxes. You can print this or you can make your own. To make your own, just draw 2,3,4, or 5 boxes side by side. Either way will work.
Elkonin boxes are used to teach phonemic and phonological awareness and syllabication.
Elkonin boxes are great because the students are using multiple modalities- tactile, visual, oral, & kinesthetic.

Lesson Plan
Title: Push it Good!Read More »

What is Ellumenopea?

Dear Readers,
I want Kindergarten teachers or anyone teaching the ABC song to make sure their students hear the different letters and not jam them altogether into one word. I have two stories about that. The first story is about my experience just this past week. The second story is about my niece, Mimi’s graduation twenty-one years ago. Like to hear ’em, here they go!
“Mrs. B,” my Kindergarten student, Will, asked, as I told him to write out the alphabets, “What is ellumenopea? How do you spell it?”Read More »

I Won!!!

Dear Readers,
I am so excited. I wrote a book grant back in August for my school and was recently notified that my school won to the tune of 489 books. This is such great news. Especially since the school librarian won a book grant earlier in the year for which we are having an assembly in November.
It was my wish to give the books to the parents during the ceremony. Now that wish has become a reality. I’ll speak with my Principal and see if I can pick them up sometime this week.
I am really excited about this. I’ll keep you updated. Bye for now!

Elkonin Boxes

Dear Readers,
I use Elkonin boxes to help my students hear discrete sounds. With my 1st & 3rd grade students I am working on short vowels. The Elkonin boxes are especially helpful when working with 2, 3, & 4 letter words. They can also be used to teach syllabication.
Also, check out my post regarding discreet vs. discrete sounds.
It’s a great resource. Check it out!

Here’s a handout that explains it:

She Came Back For the Book! (or So Worth It!)

Dear Readers,
I am so excited that one of my 2nd grade students, who I’ll call Lina, is making great progress. Although her comprehension is fine, she has a twin brother, who I’ll call Enrico, whose comprehension is lacking. I’m using sequencing to help him. With her I am using repeated readings. I let her graph her own progress and she was so excited. I asked her a question and led her to the answer.
“Lina,” I asked, “what’s the best way to increase your reading speed?
Of course the answer was to read and read, then read some more.
As an added incentive I let her borrow another one of my books, Horrid Henry. She already has one at home she hasn’t returned. Usually I have them return it before they can check out a new one. However, I didn’t want to squelch all her enthusiasm. So I just told her to return the other one tomorrow. She said she would. Hopefully she will, but if she doesn’t, it’s only one book.
She wants to earn her Pizza Hut reading certificate so I told her to come back after school to check the book out. I was going to print out a Book checkout log, but forgot. That was the reason I told her to come back after school.
So, the whole point of this post was to let you know, Dear Readers, that she didn’t forget to come back and get the book. She came back after school. This is significant because I’m on the other side of the school. That, right there, is what makes teaching worth it!

I’ve Never Encountered This Before, Part 2

So, to continue with the story of Paul, the student who could not consistently identify all of his alphabets, yet read fluently and on grade level with 100% accuracy. That was so puzzling to me. I still can’t figure it out, so I will move on.

Here’s a little update on his progress. He’s making amazing progress. Judging by his progress, I would say that his problem was more than likely lack of instruction & being an Englis Language Learner (ELL). I believe most of his problem stems from lack of instruction because he “gets it” when I explain something to him. Not only that, but he remembers and applies the information.

He’s made progrss with the letters he couldn’t consistently identify & with the identification & application of short vowels. The week after next I will do his monthly progress monitoring. So far, so good though. I’m really excited about his progress. As always I will keep you posted.

Common Signs of Dyslexia by Reading Rockets


Here’s a great checklist for common warning signs of dyslexia. Again, it’s a bit of a read, but worth it.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

By: International Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia is a language-based disability that affects both oral and written language. With help, children with dyslexia can become successful readers. Find out the warning signs for dyslexia that preschool and elementary school children might display.

Facts about dyslexia

Startling facts about dyslexia and related language-based learning disabilities:

  • Fifteen to twenty percent of the population has a reading disability.
  • Of students with specific learning disabilities who receive special education services, seventy to eighty percent have deficits in reading. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
  • If children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in kindergarten and first grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until third grade.
  • Seventy four percent of the children who were poor readers in the third grade remained poor readers in the ninth grade. This means that they couldn’t read well when they became adults.
  • Individuals inherit the genetic links for dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally, and people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well.

Common signs: PreschoolRead More »

Defeat Dyslexia by Catching It Early by Mindy Toran

Hello Dear Readers,

I found this great article on dyslexia. It’s a little bit of a read but worth it; especially if you suspect your child or someone you know has dyslexia. (Taken directly from: 

“Awareness is the key to addressing dyslexia and other language-based learning differences,” says Julia Sadtler, president of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Recognizing a learning disability earlier rather than later is important.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the population, or one out of every five students, has a language-based learning disability. The most common of these disabilities is dyslexia, a neurological disorder that results in difficulties with language skills such as reading, writing, spelling or word pronunciation.Read More »

Getting It Together, Part Whatever!!!

Dear Readers,

I am slowly but surely getting it together. As you may know, I got a promotion (with no bump in pay) to Inclusion Specialist at my school. Once I thought about the enormity of the situation, I, of course, became overwhelmed as I sometimes do. I then stopped and thought about it. I became The Little Engine That Could. I slowly went from I Think I Can Do This to I Can Do This to I Not Only Can do This, But I Can Do It Well!

I’m aware that I’m undertaking a huge task, but I am honestly up for it. My school is very small. I only have 8 students with I.E.P.s with one upcoming in November. There’s a student who I’m going to work with in 1st grade who I’m very concerned about. I’m not sure if the issue is language or comprehension, but I will watch him to see. I’m also going to work with a couple of the Kindergarten students on behavior and becoming more independent.
I met with the Inclusion Specialist at a local school and was able to secure some very useful information. I will post at a later date all of the information she gave me. I was very happy with how giving & open she was. I hope when I doing this job for a couple of years and someone comes to me for help and advice that I’m as helpful and giving as she was.

So, I’m researching some of the sites she gave me. One, in particular, is Susan Barton, a dyslexia expert based in Northern California. Just in case you’re interested, here’s the website: www.BrightSolutions.US &

I’m about to watch the videos on the second site. I’ll let you know how I liked them.

Bye for now!

Forgetting What Works…

Dear Readers,

I am so silly. I always forget what works for me. A couple of my students have been struggling. I’ve worked in Education for 10 years now. I should have pulled from my store of knowledge. But, sometimes we can become so overwhelmed that we forget (as I did) what works for us. Once I came to my senses, I quickly made fluency folders from pages I copied from Practicing Basic Skills in Reading & Practicing Basic Skills in Language Arts by Ray Beck, Peggy Anderson, & A. Denise Conrad.

At first I only made fluency folders for the struggling readers. Then I realized that almost every student needs help in some capacity. So, although there are 7/15 students working on fluency, there are 8 students that are at or above grade level in English. However, they still have deficits. I have 4 students who need to work on appositional phrases, commas in a series, and commas for parenthetical phrases. Yes, all of that is in the book. It’s not cheap though. I looked on ebay, Amazon, & a couple of other sites for inexpensive copies, but did not find it. These books are $100. Pretty steep, but worth it. You could run a whole language arts intervention program for lower to upper elementary with this book.

So that I won’t forget this for next year, I am going to keep a FORGETFUL folder where I record my ideas that work for me. Hopefully I won’t forget where I put it! : D!!!  It’s a fantastic book. Check it out!

My Recommended Summer Reading List

Children’s Picture books (ages 3-8)

  • Snuggle Mountain by Lindsey Lane
  • Maxi’s Bed Magician by Werner Blaebst
  • Fenwick’s Suit by David Small
  • Mr. George Baker
  • I Like Myself By Karen Beaumont
  • Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
  • Douglass Frederick and the House of They by Joe Kelly and Ben Roman (ages 9-10)

Beginning chapter books (ages 7-9)

  • A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
  • Wayside School by Louis Sachar  & Adam Mccauley
  • The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Chapter books (grades 5-8)

  • The View From Saturday by E.L. Konisburg (grades 5-7)
  • Lulu Atlantis AND THE QUEST FOR TRUE BLUE LOVE by Patricia Martin

The 39 Clues by various artists, Books 1-9 (grades 4-8)Read More »

Book Sale @ The Paul Roberson Community Center!

Just got this from the LABBX blog:
Books, Books, and More Books for You
Book Fair / Book Sale
Saturday, August 28, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm
Paul Robeson Community Center:

6569 S. Vermont Ave.,

LA, CA 90044

Info: (310) 569-0657
Admission: FREE

The Robeson Center is having its first ever sale of some of the vast numbers of books that do not fit into the collection. These books have been accumulated over the last 20 years from the lifetime collections of other book lovers, but they must go to make room for classroom and meeting space. If you love books, you won’t want to miss this opportunity.:
biography *philosophy * fiction * classics *kids books * history * cook books and more- they are all here looking for a new home.

Now, while we certainly don’t mind the idea of making money off of them, we’re most interested in freeing up the space they’re taking, as well as having our community reading them. Therefore, you can expect to go home with all the books you want without worrying about any kind of dent in your budget think five cents, twenty five cents, fifty cents or a dollar per book.

Info: (310) 569-0657

Jan Goodman
(310) 458-7213 or (310) 729-2394

Phillise’s STAR Test Results!

I finally got Phillise’s STAR test results back today. I am so proud of her. She scored in the Advanced range in both English-Language Arts & Math. She was higher in English-Language Arts than Math.

In the English-Language Arts category, there are 5 categories (Word Analysis & Vocabulary Development, Reading Comprehension, Literary Response & Analysis). It’s further broken down into Writing (Writing Conventions & Writing Strategies). She scored 100% in 4/5 categories. For Literary Response & Analysis, she scored 83%. She could have scored higher, but is not very patient when it comes to writing responses. She’s just like her mother on that. I’m working with her on this.

In Math, there are 5 categories also (Place Value, Addition & Subtraction, Multiplication, Division & Fractions, Algebra & Functions, Measurement & Geometry, Statistics, Data Analysis & Probability). She scored 100% in 3/5 categories. The others she scored 86% & 91%.

I am so proud of her. I only have about 30 days left to work with her on these things with her so she can score even higher next time.

HERE’s TO 2010!

How to Increase Higher Order Thinking (H.O.T.), Part 7

Here is the 7th & final part of How to Increase Higher Order Thinking

Taken directly from Reading


If consistent use of some of the above strategies does not seem to help a student, it may be worthwhile to consider having a comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation conducted by a qualified professional. Problem identification is the first step in problem solution; thus, if the problem is not accurately identified, the solutions that are attempted often will not reap rewards for the student and those working with him.

A comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation performed by a licensed psychologist should serve as the roadmap for parents, students and professionals working with the student. It should provide a complete picture of his attention, memory, oral language, organization, graphomotor/handwriting skills and higher order thinking. It should also include an assessment of the student’s academic skills (reading, written language and math) and his social and emotional functioning. The evaluation should not only provide an accurate diagnosis but also descriptive information regarding the areas of functioning noted above.Read More »

How to Increase Higher Order Thinking (H.O.T.), Part 6

Here’s the 6th part of How to Increase Higher Order Thinking:

Taken directly from Reading

Think with analogies, similes, and metaphors

Teach students to use analogies, similes and metaphors to explain a concept. Start by modeling (“I do”), then by doing several as a whole class (“We do”) before finally asking the students to try one on their own (“You do”). Model both verbal and nonverbal metaphors.

Reward creative thinking

Most students will benefit from ample opportunity to develop their creative tendencies and divergent thinking skills. They should be rewarded for original, even “out of the box” thinking.

Include analytical, practical, and creative thinking

Teachers should provide lesson plans that include analytical, practical and creative thinking activities. Psychologist Robert Sternberg has developed a framework of higher order thinking called “Successful Intelligence.” After analyzing successful adults from many different occupations, Sternberg discovered that successful adults utilize three kinds of higher order thinking: (1) analytical (for example, compare and contrast, evaluate, analyze, critique), (2) practical (for example, show how to use something, demonstrate how in the real world, utilize, apply, implement), and (3) creative (for example, invent, imagine, design, show how, what would happen if). Data show that using all three increases student understanding.

Teach components of the learning processRead More »

How to Increase Higher Order Thinking, Part 2

Here’s the 2nd part of How to Increase Higher Order Thinking:

Taken directly from Reading

Strategies for enhancing higher order thinking

These following strategies are offered for enhancing higher order thinking skills. This listing should not be seen as exhaustive, but rather as a place to begin.

Take the mystery away

Teach students about higher order thinking and higher order thinking strategies. Help students understand their own higher order thinking strengths and challenges.

Teach the concept of concepts

Explicitly teach the concept of concepts. Concepts in particular content areas should be identified and taught. Teachers should make sure students understand the critical features that define a particular concept and distinguish it from other concepts.

Name key concepts

In any subject area, students should be alerted when a key concept is being introduced. Students may need help and practice in highlighting key concepts. Further, students should be guided to identify which type(s) of concept each one is — concrete, abstract, verbal, nonverbal or process.

Categorize conceptsRead More »

How to Increase Higher Order Thinking (H.O.T.), Part 1

How to Increase Higher Order Thinking

Taken directly from Reading
By: Alice Thomas and Glenda Thorne (2009)

Parents and teachers can do a lot to encourage higher order thinking. Here are some strategies to help foster children’s complex thinking.

Higher order thinking (HOT) is thinking on a level that is higher than memorizing facts or telling something back to someone exactly the way it was told to you. HOT takes thinking to higher levels than restating the facts and requires students to do something with the facts — understand them, infer from them, connect them to other facts and concepts, categorize them, manipulate them, put them together in new or novel ways, and apply them as we seek new solutions to new problems.

Answer children’s questions in a way that promotes H.O.T.

Parents and teachers can do a lot to encourage higher order thinking, even when they are answering children’s questions. According to Robert Sternberg, answers to children’s questions can be categorized into seven levels, from low to high, in terms of encouraging higher levels of thinking. While we wouldn’t want to answer every question on level seven, we wouldn’t want to answer every question on levels one and two, either. Here are the different levels and examples of each.

Level 1: Reject the question

“Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”
“Don’t ask me any more questions.” “Because I said so.”

Level 2: Restate or almost restate the question as a response

“Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”
“Because you have to eat your vegetables.”

“Why is that man acting so crazy?”
“Because he’s insane.”

“Why is it so cold?”
“Because it’s 15° outside.”

Level 3: Admit ignorance or present information

“I don’t know, but that’s a good question.”
Or, give a factual answer to the question.Read More »


Is there a difference between the words Discrete & Discreet? They look the same, sound the same and have the same letters. I don’t think this will be a question that’s asked often. I only happened to chance upon the word discrete as I was reading an article with the word discrete in it in relation to learning to read. I thought it didn’t “fit”, so I looked it up. When I did, this is what I found:
USAGE The words discrete and discreet are pronounced in the same way and share the same origin but they do not mean the same. Discrete means ‘separate, distinct’ (: a finite number of discrete categories), while discreet means careful, judicious, circumspect ( you can rely on him to be discreet ).
Main Entry: dis·crete
Pronunciation: \dis-ˈkrēt, ˈdis-ˌ\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin discretus
Date: 14th century

1 : individually distinct
2 a : consisting of distinct or unconnected elements

dis·crete·ly adverb

dis·crete·ness noun

Main Entry: dis·creet
Pronunciation: \di-ˈskrēt\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French discret, from Medieval Latin discretus, from Latin, past participle of discernere to separate, distinguish between
Date: 14th century

1 : having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech

dis·creet·ly adverb

dis·creet·ness noun

* Not that many will be asking, but here’s the answer if someone does.*

Literacy Milestones (Birth to 3 Years)

Taken directly from Reading

Literacy Milestones: Birth to Age 3

By: Andrea DeBruin-Parecki, Kathryn Perkinson, and Lance Ferderer (2000)

Identifying a reading problem is a challenge without a sense for what typical literacy development looks like. Find out what language accomplishments are typical for most children at the following age levels: birth to three, three to four, age five, and age six.

Most children learn to read by age 7. Learning to read is built on a foundation of language skills that children start learning at birth — a process that is both complicated and amazing. Most children develop certain skills as they move through the early stages of learning language.

The following list of such accomplishments is based on current research in the field, where studies continue and there is still much to learn. As you look over the list, keep in mind that children vary a great deal in how they develop and learn.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress, talk with your child’s doctor, teacher, or a speech and language therapist. For children with any kind of disability or learning problem, the sooner they can get the special help they need, the easier it will be for them to learn.

From birth to age 3, most babies and toddlers become able to:

  • Make sounds that imitate the tones and rhythms that adults use when talking
  • Respond to gestures and facial expressions
  • Begin to associate words they hear frequently with what the words mean
  • Make cooing, babbling sounds in the crib which gives way to enjoying rhyming and nonsense word games with a parent or caregiver
  • Play along in games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”
  • Handle objects such as board books and alphabet blocks in their play
  • Recognize certain books by their covers
  • Pretend to read books
  • Understand how books should be handled
  • Share books with an adult as a routine part of life
  • Name some objects in a book
  • Talk about characters in books
  • Look at pictures in books and realize they are symbols of real things
  • Listen to stories
  • Ask or demand that adults read or write with them
  • Begin to pay attention to specific print such as the first letters of their names
  • Scribble with a purpose (trying to write or draw something)
  • Produce some letter-like forms and scribbles that resemble, in some way, writing

How Do I Determine the Reading Level of A Book?

How Do I Determine the Reading Level of a Book? Well, that’s a good question. I wondered that very question aloud in a classroom where I worked as an assistant before I became a teacher. The teacher was very knowledgeable. As so often happens when you’re around very knowledgeable people, a question is rewarded with a very knowledgeable answer. She showed me where it’s printed on the back of the book. If you turn the book over on some books, you may see something like RL 2.6. This stands for Reading Level for a child in 2nd grade, the 6th month of school.

Because of my experience, I can automatically look @ a book and tell what the reading level is. I know that not everyone can do this, so I’ve compiled several different ways of determining the reading level of a book.

  • First, there’s the 5 Finger test method. As your child mispronounces a word, hold up a finger up. If you have put up all your fingers by the time your child is through the page for a longer page or a paragraph for the whole book, it’s too hard for them.

On the same website as above, there’s a test that I’d never heard of called the Goldilocks test. When you think about it it makes perfect sense. By asking yourself or someone else a few simple questions, you can determine if the book is too easy, too hard, or just right. Here’s the link: GOLDILOCKS RULE.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but should be very helpful!

HERE’S TO 2010!

The Road Map To Reading!

Here’s a little Road Map to Reading. Although the road to reading is a fairly complex process fraught with much tension and much work, there is hope. At my last site, I had an awesome Literacy Coach who gave me these steps to reading. So, without further ado, here they are:

**Phonemic Awareness– Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds and words. One of my favorite p.a. activities is to use word families (i.e., -an). If you place a /b/ in front of it, the word is now ban. Place a /c/ in front of it, and it’s now can. Place a /d/ in front of it and it is now Dan, etc.

Concepts About Print– Does the child understand that print goes from left to right.

Explicit, Systematic Instruction in Phonics– Letter/sound correspondence, i.e., “A” makes the Long /a/ or ah sound. For each letter, there is a sound or corresponding sounds.

Decoding– While writing is described as encoding (Putting into the secret language), reading is described as decoding (deciphering & making sense of the secret language). Just think about it, learning to read is like deciphering a secret language. In essence, children are secret agents deciphering the code. So, if you put the short /i/ sound with the /f/ sound, it will make if.

Fluency/Automaticity– Again, simply put, does the child read in a human-like way (very naturally) or like a robot, taking time to sound out and pronounce every letters.

Explicit Instruction in Comprehension– This is where many students get “tripped” up on the CSTs. Since they take so much time Decoding, that barely leaves any time for comprehension. I had much success. I’m not sure how other teachers go about doing this, but, as always, I keep it very simple. Once you work on all of the above, their fluency/automaticity will increase. This will leave more time for comprehension.
I read to my students every day. Now, come very close and I’ll share a very simple secret with you. While reading, I asked them questions, we discussed the story & I had them sum it up in their own words. Okay, you can leave now. That’s it. That’s the secret to increasing comprehension. That’s my explicit instruction in comprehension.

** Taken from UC Davis, School of Education website**

I found a nice website for Phonemic Awareness

Alphabetic Principle Activities

Here’s a follow up to my post from earlier. In my earlier post, I explained what the Alphabetic Principle was. In this post I offer up activities to coordinate with & enhance your child’s learning of the principle.

Alphabetic Principle Module

Reading Part 1
Reading Part 2
There are more available. This is just to get you started. Google Alphabetic Principle activities & you will find more.
I hope this helps!

The Alphabetic Principle

What is the Alphabetic Principle? Good question. Basically the Alphabetic Principle is the understanding that letters are used to represent the speech sounds of our language.

Here are a couple of websites to fully explain it:
Reading Rocket
Glynn County School System

NOTE: One of more of these sites have links to purchase books or other educational material. Even if you purchase them, I receive no commission. I do this purely for the love of disseminating information.

But, I Can Only Read Those Books!

“But, I can only read those books! ” said one of my students, Mike, as he pointed to the Bob books on the shelf.

“What do you mean,” I asked.

We talked about the reasons for his misbehavior. I intervened when he was misbehaving with my assistant. I realized that he was misbehaving because he didn’t think he could “do” the test. So, we talked for a minute as I pointed out High Frequency Words (HFW) and sight words. He was amazed that he could read words in the passage of the test.

I let him know that they were the same words no matter where they were. I would like to say that he took his time and diligently read the test, but I can’t. He dashed through the test and circled any answer. However, the good part is that he realized that he could read other books besides the Bob books and other “easy” books he’s been reading from. I’m glad he brought it up because I would not have thought he thought that he could only read from certain books. It’s amazing how kids think! I can use this information in the future!

It’s nice to know!

Bye for now!

High Frequency Word Game!

My mentor teacher suggested this to me. I used it, not knowing how it was going to work, and was pleased with the results. My students loved it. It’s so simple. The way that I was doing it in the beginning had begun to get boring. So, at my mentor teacher’s suggestion, I had them stand up and gave them the rules of the game- get the word or sit down basically. They really want to win. I guess I underestimated their competitive spirit. As we were finishing, a couple of my students said, “Man, I really gotta’ study now. I wanna’ win!”
I love it. So, my students copied them down on index cards that clip onto their chairs. This is what they take out when someone unexpectedly shows up in the classroom and I need to talk to them.
It’s working out. I’m happy about that.

Language Travels or (Why Some Words Don’t Follow Rules)

Language travels from place to place, and mixes and merges with other languages. It’s been happening that way for a long time, it’s just that sometimes we forget and wonder why some words don’t follow rules. It’s because of the language of origin.

In my Theories of 2nd Acquisition Language class, one of my classmates, Josh explained how much of a mutt the English language is. Why does it have so many more phonemes than the Hawai’ian language for instance. The Hawai’ian language is a very simple language. However, it’s a pure language, while English is not.

This came up because I was asking my teacher how to explain to my students why “ea” in weather doesn’t follow the “when two vowels go walking” rule; why isn’t it pronounced more like weether instead of the way it is. That’s when we had a great discussion about it.

So, the next time you think about trying to explain why, just save yourself some time and tell them that that particular word is a rule-breaker.

Explicitly Teaching The Sound Spelling Cards

Continuing from my post from a couple of days ago regarding an easier way to teach Open Court to Special Education students, here are a couple more of the things that I do when teaching OCR.

When I am teaching the skills called for in the program, I scaffold it down very low. By this I mean that I photocopy instructional materials from a lower grade with simpler explanations and work from there.

Open Court teaching is on grade level, but Voyager is intervention. It is below grade level. During that block of time, I am allowed to teach the children what they need to know, like the Sound Spelling cards, high frequency words & sight words, word families, and whatever else they need.

During that time, I explicitly teach the sound spelling cards. I target a specific S/S card and work with it. For instance, when I come to a S/S card that has more than two spellings, like the S or sausage card, I write a word with the spelling in it to show the children that it’s not just there for show; that it’s there for a reason. So, now when they see it when they’re reading, they will know.

I subscribe to a newsletter from All About Spelling and am encouraged as I read the weekly newsletter. In the newsletter, the author, Marie Appel, writes about explicitly teaching the sound spelling cards in order to help students with their spelling.

I guess I’m on the right track.

The Biggest Difference Between Good & Bad Spellers…

From Marie Rippel @

What are the biggest differences between a student who knows how to spell and one who struggles?

Kids who are good spellers tend to enjoy learning, read more, and do better in all subject areas. They normally have the confidence that they can tackle most academic learning.

Poor spellers, on the other hand, usually dislike school, are often frustrated, and try to hide their learning challenges.

That was the problem with almost all of my students. They couldn’t spell because some of them didn’t even know the alphabets. I really worked on that. This year, I am going to work on spelling, phonograms, & high frequency & sight words to keep my students on the marvelous track they started on.

Here’s to continued success!

Teaching Someone How To Read!

Teaching someone to read. Ah, what a challenge! That has been one of my most pressing problems this year. Most of my class (7/11 students), either could not read or was reading 2-3 levels below grade level. Hence, the behavior problems.

Note: Students who act up because they have reading problems would rather be thought of as “bad” than “stupid”.

I knew what to do right away, but my energies were so scattered that I didn’t put them into practice right away. After I got it together, I started it. The “it” that I refer to is a solid phonics foundation. (Here is a link to an article that explains it all:

However, I knew that I had to get the class in order or no learning would be going on. Once that task was accomplished, I got on with the task of teaching those students how to read. I will write all about it when school is out for the summer and I have more time.

When Teaching Long Vowels…

  • In one lesson, teach that vowels say their name at the beginning of a syllable (as in a-pron).

  • In another lesson, teach that magic e makes vowels say their name (as in lake).

  • Teach the vowel pairs ai and ay, and the rule that ai is used within a word and ay is generally used at the end of a word.

  • After these spelling patterns are firm in the student’s mind, move on to teach the other spellings for long a, one at a time.

The Many Jobs Of Silent “E”

I also got this from the website . If you would like to read it for yourself, here it is:                      (Updated site address)

Silent E: Teaching Kids the Whole Truth

Taken directly from the site.

Here are the six jobs that Silent E performs:

Job #1: Silent e can make the vowel before it long (note).

Job #2: Silent e can make c and g soft (race, page).

Job #3: Silent e keeps u and v from being the last letter in a word (clue, give).

Job #4: Every syllable must have a vowel. Silent e adds a vowel to words with the “consonant+le” pattern, such as handle.

Job #5: Adding a silent e can keep a singular word from ending in s, as in the word goose. Without the e, this would look like a plural word: goos.

Job #6: Other miscellaneous reasons for silent e include:

  • The e used to be pronounced (come).

  • To distinguish between two words (or and ore).

How To Teach Spelling

While doing some research on teaching spelling, I came across this article: It was quite humbling as I have been doing some of those things that the article says not to do.

I am happy that I came across this information. Now I know what to do as well as what not to do. That’s what research is for.

If you are also looking for information about how to teach spelling, check out this site @

Begin At The Beginning

I am having so much success with my students. Two of those who only knew a couple of high frequency and sight words are now reading.

How did I do it you ask? I went back to the beginning. I started at the basics- sound spelling cards and phonics. I don’t know why I didn’t do this from the beginning. It’s working like a charm.

I am finally getting a routine going in the classroom. It feels so good to have a set schedule and not have so much uncertainty to the day.

Thank you Jesus for small favors.