Hilda Coyne, Editor
AND GOOD NEWS
the fall semester began, educators have found issues of high
importance to educators and students alike, from the latest
research on learning differences (and teaching methods to
implement that research) to recent legislative efforts to
meet student needs.
Sonday, one of the foremost experts in phonics and reading
instruction, with some of the best results in the country,
presents outstanding new concepts and methods in this issue.
Then, the latest scientific research on the path of learning
in the brain, reviewed in an article by Hilda Coyne, includes
the recommendation of the scientists for increased phonics
and word comprehension instruction. Next, Dr. Marcia Henry
has written one of the most valuable books any educator may
own. Unlocking Literacy: Effective Decoding & Spelling Instruction,
reviewed in this issue, describes some of the newest and most
innovative strategies available.
those educators and students who employ color coding will
find the article by Lyndsey Gue, entitled Types of Color Blindness:
How They Affect Teaching and Learning, valuable. Many will
find inspiration in the story of a student who overcame her
learning differences to become a law student in college.
you may welcome information on an important legislative update
and upcoming conferences. Please continue to share this newsletter
with colleagues, and your interesting information, photos,
and articles with the editor. Best wishes for Happy Holidays
that a multisensory, structured, systematic phonic approach is the
best way to teach students with dyslexia. The National Reading Panel
has published its findings indicating that effective reading programs
should include phonological and phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency,
vocabulary and comprehension. (A free copy, useful in teaching children
and adults, of Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks
for Teaching Children to Read, can be obtained at EdPubOrders@aspensys.com).
The research recommends using a reading program for all students
that includes a spelling component and multisensory reinforcement.
It appears that what works for students with dyslexia also works
best for all readers. Students with dyslexia, however, usually need
different pacing with more time and practice and, in many cases,
additional expertise from a reading therapist/educational specialist.
The same general principles are effective for students whose first
language is not English but who need to learn to read, spell and
write in English.
code of the language is the solution. Reading is talk written down
in code. By learning the code and how to use it, students have the
necessary tools to decode (read) and encode (spell) words. Teaching
the sound-symbol connections, blending sounds into words for reading,
segmenting words into sounds for spelling, and learning the basic
rules will integrate reading and spelling instruction. Combined
with multisensory practice, learning is cemented into long-term
instruction, emphasis is on teaching students phonemic awareness,
which involves the sound system of the language. Students need to
know that sounds are represented by the letters of the alphabet,
that sounds blended together make words and that words can be separated
into sounds. Research indicates that the ability to play with words
is the most reliable predictor of reading success.
beginning instruction in systematic, explicit phonics, therefore,
letter-sound connections for letters and combinations of letters
are directly taught and practiced in the context of words in word
lists and in text. Card decks with sounds and with words can be
used to help build mastery. Manipulatives for controlled reading
provide an opportunity for practice to the beginning reader who
is mastering an important skill. Students should be encouraged to
use the letters to unlock the sounds of each word.
component of reading programs is spelling. Spelling can be taught
in conjunction with reading, moving from basic sounds, patterns
and rules to more complex elements. Spelling is a multisensory activity
involving three learning pathways‹visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile.
Segmenting words into sounds, a phonemic awareness task, helps the
student break up each word into recognizable parts and the sounds
can be written in the correct sequence. Using a segmenting strategy,
learners assign one sound to each finger, and then spell the sequence
of sounds to create a word. Finger segmenting sends a strong message
to the brain. Adults and teens can do segmenting on their fingers
by applying pressure to the finger when the hand rests on the table
or on the leg. As soon as they learn to segment they can do it vocally,
then subvocally, then mentally. When teaching a phonic approach
with a spelling component, the multisensory practice involved cements
into long term memory the skills needed to read fluently with good
comprehension and to communicate with others in writing.
an effective instructional program, every teacher needs to have
knowledge and expertise in delivering an alphabetic-phonic approach.
Without this, students lack the firm foundation needed for reading
success. Teachers often need to develop new instructional approaches.
They need the time and opportunity to understand the structure and
rules of the English language, phonemic awareness and multisensory
instruction as well as the specific strategies and techniques that
make learning effective for students learning to read, write and
comprehend English in print. Since this is often not a part of teacher
preparation, it is necessary for districts, schools or individual
teachers to seek out the training, professional development, and
the tools, curricula, that will fill in the gaps for learners who
need to know the structure of the language in order to manage written
is a Founding Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners
and Educators. She is an instructor at Fairleigh Dickinson University,
New Jersey, and Hamline University, Minnesota; a member of the Advisory
Council, Scottish Rite Children's Learning Centers; past Vice-President,
The International Dyslexia Association; author, the Sonday System
Learning to Read, a reading/spelling curriculum, www.sondaysystem.com;
and consultant for the software program, Ultra Phonics Tutor, www.prolexia.com.