In elementary school, I already had plans to become an elementary school teacher. When I discovered one of my new friends was having problems learning to read, I appointed myself his official after school tutor. As I assisted him, I began my education as a teacher.
In 1975, I graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk, Virginia, with a B.A. degree, and certification to teach preschool through grade seven.
I then became involved with many areas of education; finally, I decided to learn more about persons with special learning needs. I graduated from Lynchburg College with a master’s degree in teaching learning disabilities and emotional disturbance.
Throughout my entire career in education, I have successfully helped many students with their reading problems.
I have always enjoyed books and reading. I never understood why some of my friends found it so difficult to learn to read. Later, while I was teaching elementary school, I found that the reading system presented in the regular textbook was not working for some of my students. They didn’t learn the concepts involved in decoding words. Later, in an attempt to help a woman who had never been able to learn to read throughout her entire school career, I became involved in writing, visually decoding, and sounding letters and words, she began finding reading success for the first time.
As I continued using my method, I taught using hearing, saying, writing the letters, visually decoding, and finally sounding the words. Students with the most severe language problems began learning, and those with milder problems improved rapidly.
I have successfully used my method with students with many and varied learning problems, and with multiple texts. This book is organized in vowel sound patterns, with the vowels in the order they appear in the alphabet.
Research shows that a student who has reading problems has difficulty utilizing the decoding area of the brain. Because the student has problems manipulating the sounds of a word within the decoding area, the word is unable to be processed into the automatic recognition area of the brain. Thus, the student is unable to use the retrieval and comprehension features within that area. (Shaywitz, 2003).
Some languages show a transparency between the written spelling and the pronunciation of words; there is close match between symbol and expected sound. My experience teaching reading is that many words in the English language are more translucent in this area; at times the words become almost opaque! One example of lack of match between symbol and usual sound is the frequently-used word, “busy,” where the b is the only letter that matches the usual sound. The person who reads naturally is able to make sense of the confusion between symbol and sound for these words. But unfortunately for many students with reading disabilities, confusion reigns. The student who has difficulty decoding unknown words, also has problems with reading comprehension and reading rate. Reading problems also affect spelling and writing. The student has difficulty meeting age-level language arts expectations.
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