I re-posted a challenging text to my Facebook page, so that my Friends could try to read it.  The text was composed of scrambled words, where the first and last letters were the only letters in the correct place.  I received this comment from one of my former students:  "Wow!  I read it with ease!  Thanks to you, Mrs. Landoll, I developed a true romance with the English language.  Thank you!"  T was another reading student who benefited from using The Sounds Of Words to make sound sense of English words!

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P and I had a two month break from reading lessons.  Then we had the opportunity to read together again.  She chose a little book and began reading it aloud to me.  I helped her with some of the words she had difficulty with.  However, she correctly pronounced most of the words, and read completely through the book!  She was so happy and so excited to be able to read that little book! I was delighted to learn that she remembered all of the words that she had previously learned, using The Sounds Of Words!

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P has been doing very well reading, spelling, and writing Level one words. Level one words include the most frequently used words in speech and writing. P had mastered the words in the controlled text she had completed. Whenever she was present for the group lesson, she would help me lead the group, reading poems and song lyrics with me, singing, and answering my questions. She had also been bringing Bible verses for me to help her learn, and was beginning to be successful at reading many of those words.

P was very interested in the stories of the Bible, so she chose a student Bible as her next book to learn to read. The stories were short and used primarily Level one vocabulary. However, the sentences were more complicated, and each story included some instances of higher level words as well. So, as P read through the book, she would have many opportunities to increase her reading skills using The Sounds Of Words.

P has been enjoying reading the stories in the student Bible. She has enjoyed adding many words to her vocabulary. She is continuing to read through the Bible. And, recently she asked me if I would get another copy for her to keep and read. So she will now have her own student Bible, and she will learn to pronounce and comprehend every word of each story in her Bible!

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My reading students chose to participate in their annual talent show recently. They chose to sing along with songs they liked. Once they selected a song, I copied the lyrics for them. Then we used The Sounds Of Words to read and learn the lyrics. After learning all of the words to the song, they learned to sing each word as we played the selection. When they became comfortable singing along with the selection, they added costume and movement.

The students selected a variety of songs and styles of music. They worked hard to read and memorize the words correctly, and to learn to sing along with the melody. One student even chose to learn to use sign language to "sing" the words to one song. All of them practiced and learned to sing along with "God Bless The USA" for the finale.

The night of their performance the students said they were nervous. However, when each one stepped onto the stage, the practice and learning was evident. They sang along with the selections, correctly hitting every word, every note. The audience of parents, support professionals, team leaders, and directors thoroughly enjoyed each individual performance at the annual talent show!

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Today is a bright, blue sky autumn day in Southside Virginia. The leaves of the trees are losing their green, and are glowing with reds, oranges, purples, yellows, golds, and browns. Halloween decorations add the colors black and white. The Sounds Of Words helps the struggling reader learn to read, spell, and write color words. And, while learning those words, the reader practices many frequently used vowel and consonant sounds. The student also has the opportunity to note and practice tricky and less frequently used sounds.

The word "red" is the easiest word to read, spell, and write. "Blue", "green", "black", and "white" are decodable using the usual rules. "Gold" is tricky because of the "o" sound is different from the usual vowel-consonant sound for "o". "Yellow" is tricky because of both the "el" sound and the "ow". "Brown" presents the "ow" as yet another sound. The "ur" and "le" sounds in "purple" create tricks. Finally, the pronunciation of the word "orange" tricks the reader with its "or", "an", and "ge". In other words, the whole pronunciation of "orange" is tricky!

However, when the struggling reader is helped to use the universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, Sounds Of Words, reading intervention, the tricks are decoded. The words make sense, and the student comprehends words that describe the colors of autumn!

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In many instances, the teacher is assigned a particular curriculum to be used for language arts/English instruction. The material often creates major difficulties for the struggling learner. The Sounds Of Words intervention will provide access to the curriculum for that learner. Any word which the student needs to know in order to comprehend and use the material can be decoded by the student, using the explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, intervention.

The struggling learner is able to access learning activities, vocabulary words and text, spelling words, and writing lessons. Access to the class curriculum provides success in the least restrictive environment, inside and outside the classroom.

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Many struggling learners of English have difficulty with phonemic awareness. They do not hear the sounds of words clearly enough to comprehend rhyming words and poetry. Jokes that involve puns, plays on words, are not funny to them. Although they participate in phonemic awareness pre-reading activities, they continue to struggle with the sounds of words.

The Sounds Of Words applied phonics reading intervention provides the opportunity for struggling learners to comprehend and master phonemic awareness and phonics. The process of listening to the usual sounds of the letters of a word, saying those sounds, writing those sounds, concretely and multi-sensorily decoding the word to read the sound spelling, and finally reading the written word, gives opportunities for the learner to find success with phonemic awareness and phonics.

Then, once the student is able to read the word, she/he is able to utilize automatic recognition and comprehension whenever reading that word, as well as using the information for decoding and comprehension of other words.

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Citizens of the world are interested in learning the English language. English-speaking countries generally value democracy and free enterprise. Because of this, freedom and innovation are products of those countries. English has become an important language of diplomacy and commerce. World citizens are interested in living and working in those countries, and they want to be able to speak the language.

The Sounds Of Words is helpful here. The book provides information and example words for the spelling and pronunciation of the vowel-consonant patterns for the 600 most frequently used words in the English language. It also has words to illustrate the variety of consonant sounds. It shows how to use the universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, reading intervention.

In addition, because the vowel-consonant patterns and consonant sounds are illustrated, specific comparisons can be made between pronunciation of the letters of the learner's first language and the English sounds of the letters. So, world citizens can choose to learn how to speak more like a native English speaker.

Using The Sounds Of Words, learners are able to increase proficiency in reading, spelling, writing, and speaking English!

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Struggling readers have the desire to be able to communicate with their friends on social media. They wish to be able to read and post messages about their interests. The Sounds Of Words is helpful here, since the strategy is universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics. Parent/ teacher can choose any portion of social media text of interest and teach the student to read, discuss, and respond to it.

Teach the student to decode and read any word(s) that the student needs to know in order to read the text. Use the same strategy to teach the student how to spell and write words correctly in order to respond with her/his own idea(s) about the subject. The student is improving comprehension for written text and for writing text while engaging in the social media that he/she enjoys!

Additionally, the student is adding to the words for reading, spelling, and writing stored in the comprehension/memory area of the brain!

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Readers are writers, and writers are readers. Natural readers enjoy reading widely, often at an early age. They comprehend the words and the text, commit words to automatic recognition, and use the comprehension/recognition area to figure out words in context as they read. As they read increasingly more well-written texts, they learn the principles of English grammar. Thus they are able to comprehend and write well themselves.

The Sounds Of Words is a universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, reading intervention. So, when struggling learners attempt to read widely, the strategy is available to help them be able to do so. Any unknown word is explicitly, concretely, and multi-sensorily decodable, for the text they are reading. And as they continue to read widely, they are able to use the same process as that of the natural reader.

So, in order to understand and learn the irregularities of English words and grammar, students should read widely. Then when taught grammar and spelling, they will have the foundation to learn and practice good writing. Increasing wide reading and writing practice will lead to good writing skills.

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Today I helped a learner who is planning to sing a self-selected country song in a talent show this fall. He has listened to the song on the radio, and he already knows some of the words. In fact, he enjoys singing along with the parts of the lyrics he has learned. Now, since he wants to sing that song in the talent show, he needs to learn all of the words. So, this morning I helped him decode, say, and type all the lyrics. He enjoys the song, and he will enjoy singing it in the show.

Because every word is concretely and multi-sensorily decodable, and because The Sounds Of Words is applied phonics, B is now able to learn to read every word of the lyrics. Because he is able to read every word, he is able to learn to sing every word of the song. And he will eventually commit each word to memory, and then he will sing the entire song in the show.

Two years ago, B was not well versed in the sounds of words. He sang along with a song in that year's talent show, but he had not memorized some of the words. He was unable to sing all the lyrics. He had difficulty with consistent focus. Now, practicing The Sounds Of Words, he has learned to focus on the words he needs to learn, in order to decode and read them. He will enjoy singing all the lyrics of this year's song!

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Recently I was asked why I insist on teaching phonics to students who are having difficulty learning phonics. My answer to that question is that I am providing the least restrictive environment (lre) for reading students. Experts in special education have proven that lre is best for these learners, because it allows them to learn as normally as possible. So lre is always set as a goal.

Brain science has confirmed that natural readers decode all words novel to their vocabulary. They may follow all the decoding steps, sounding each letter, dividing each syllable, sounding the word, etc. Or they may decode by comparing the novel word to (an)other word(s) already stored in their recognition/comprehension center. They may use context to help them figure out the word. Yet, one way or another, all novel words are decoded, and phonics plays a role. Thus, decoding and phonics is important to lre.

The Sounds Of Words is a universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, reading intervention. It is a method that directly teaches decoding and phonics skills to students who are having difficulty learning phonics. So, whenever the teacher/parent uses The Sounds Of Words to teach decoding and phonics skills, the parent/teacher is meeting the goal for least restrictive environment.

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Once upon a time, there was a little first grade boy who had given up on reading. He came to class each day very reluctantly, and he wasted his time during reading class moving about the room, exploring things. When he came to his desk and was handed a book to read, he threw it to the floor. When the teacher picked it up and placed it on his desk, he brushed it off onto the floor. When the teacher picked up the book , opened it, and sat down next to the little boy to read it with him, he turned away. He had been unable to learn to read during the past year, so he had just given up on reading.

The teacher decided to leave his desk bookless, and began to teach spelling to the group, using The Sounds Of Words. The little boy refused to look at the blackboard or attempt any words. But he sat in his seat and he heard the lesson. Several days went by. Then one day, the little boy watched and listened as the teacher helped the students decode and practice their spelling words. Then he decided to attempt a word. The teacher helped him decode that word. The next time the teacher put the book on the student's desk, he left it there. Finally he opened the book and began looking at it. At that point, the teacher began teaching him the information in the book. When he realized that he learned when taught with the universal word, explicit teaching, concrete, multi-sensory, applied phonics, reading intervention, he slowly began reading, writing, and spelling words.

After a few years, the once little boy left that classroom and went to another school. The teacher hoped he was doing well. Years passed. Then one day the boy's mother met the teacher while shopping. "I just want to thank you so much for helping J," she said. "You taught him to read, and this year he graduated from high school!" More years passed. Then the teacher saw the mother again while shopping. "How is J doing?" asked the teacher. "Just fine," his mother replied. "He has a good job, and is married, and has two children."

Hearing all that made the teacher's heart glad. She knew she had helped that little boy!

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Recent research shows that students who are frequently involved with texting are losing formal writing skills. So, how do teachers/parents help students improve skills? It is important to help students learn to read and enjoy well-written stories and texts. And it is important that the teacher/parent insist on correct spelling and grammar in all written classwork.

Use The Sounds Of Words to help struggling learners develop reading, spelling, and writing skills. Encourage learners to enjoy reading, and to frequently practice skills. Then, help students learn to spell words correctly and to write using correct grammar. Notify students that texting language is informal writing, and that they all classwork is to be formal writing. Then remind them whenever they stray from the standard, and expect them to make appropriate corrections.

As the student develops reading skills, spelling and writing skills improve.

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Recent research using fMRI reveals differences in brain functioning between some pre-readers with a family history of dyslexia and pre-readers with no such family history. Two groups of children, average age 5 1/2, matched for age, sex, and iq, consisted of 36 at-risk pre-schoolers and 18 preschoolers with no known risk. Compared with the control group, some children at risk for dyslexia showed reduced activity in the brain's occipitotemporal and left temporoparietal regions. This is similar to older children and adults with dyslexia. High activations in these regions--in both the at-risk and control groups--correlated with better performance on tasks that predict reading ability, such as rhyming, knowing letters and letter sounds, and being able to separate sounds within a word.

Early diagnostic markers could potentially enable a child to receive early interventions to head off difficulties and frustration in school, say investigators Nora Raschle, PhD, and Nadine Gaab, PhD, researchers from the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital (PNAS, January 23). Developmental dyslexia, which affects 5 to 17 percent of children, has a strong familial component. Up to half of all children with a positive family history will have dyslexia themselves. This study reveals differences in brain activity even before children begin reading instruction.

Drs. Gabb and Raschle are conducting further research to see if the fMRI observations correlate with diagnosed dyslexia and with EEG results.

Article: Research: Spotting Dyslexia In Pre-readers, Boston Children's Hospital http://www.childrenshospital.org/views/april12/spotting_dyslexia.html

Further details and pictures can be found at the address above.

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Children who are read to have better success in school. That is generally accepted fact. So, when do you begin reading to a child? Well, try this: Find a little baby. Make yourself comfortable on the sofa, prop up your legs, then prop the little baby on your legs. Then read a good beginning reading book to the baby. One of the rhyming story books is great, full of colorful and interesting illustrations. Read a page of the story, then show Baby the pictures. Talk about the pictures with Baby. Then read the next page. Continue as long as you have Baby's attention.

This activity is teaching Baby the sounds of words. Reading is book is expanding Baby's world of ideas and language. Looking at the pictures and talking about them with Baby is teaching turn-taking skills. The pictures help develop Baby's imagination. And seeing and touching the book and its pages, Baby begins learning about the fun of words and books.

When you are sure you have Baby's attention for books, read Baby a cloth storybook. Follow the same procedures. Then, give Baby the book to take with her/him wherever he/she goes. Later, Baby will enjoy being given little board baby books to read.

When Baby gets older, and would rather crawl around and explore than be held and read to, make sure that Baby's books are easy to find during exploration. Teach Baby that books are not balls, and they are not made for throwing. Otherwise, explore them. This may be a time when Baby can see you read something while Baby plays. Then, when Baby gets tired from crawling, standing, running, exploring, and throwing balls, pick up Baby, hold Baby closely in your lap, and once again read to Baby. You are helping Baby learn to Love Reading.

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"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness..." This document was signed by 56 delegates of the Colonies, who became the Founding Fathers, and thus was born the United States Of America.

Yes, every year US citizens celebrate July 4th, Independence Day, with parades, cook-outs, picnics, patriotic songs, and fireworks. And the basis for that holiday is The Declaration of Independence, which is kept at the US National Archives & Records Administration, and which can be accessed at www.archives.gov. And it is important that every citizen be able to read and comprehend every word. This is our history, "IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America..."

Struggling readers will have difficulty decoding, reading, and comprehending many or all of the words in this document. The Sounds Of Words can be used to help them concretely and multi-sensorily discover for themselves the "sound spellings" for any words they need to know. The teacher/parent will encourage and empower the struggling reader by acknowledging the words the reader already knows, then using The Sounds Of Words to teach the unknown words. By doing so, The Declaration of Independence will make sense and will become important to that citizen of The United States Of America.

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Struggling readers are able to develop routines that help them function in everyday situations. They are able to get information and entertainment from telephone, television, radio, internet, dvds, cds and Mp3 players. High-functioning readers use the same sources, and follow the same routines. But what happens when a storm knocks out electric power? What if there is damage to the living area? A whole house generator and the ability to fuel it will be helpful. However, a majority of households are solely dependent on the power company, so routines fail.

Suddenly, many sources are no longer available, and, with prolonged/widespread outage, all of the routine is gone. Damage to the living area causes more problems. High-functioning readers seek information elsewhere. Print media is available to inform them of emergency services. They find information about the outage by locating and contacting the agencies that can help. They may be able to go to get help. They take advantage of any water, ice, and food distribution. Print media informs them of "survival" ideas. And they have newspapers, magazines, and books to take with them wherever they need to be. They fight their way through many unusual challenges.

Struggling readers lose their sources of information and entertainment, and lose their routines. But, they are unable to independently take advantage of print media. So they need extra assistance to get through the challenges. Without extra assistance, they cannot solve the problems related to storms and power outages.

To prevent these extra problems, the teacher/parent can help struggling readers improve reading skills, using The Sounds Of Words. Help students learn how to concretely and multi-sensorily decode any words they are struggling with. Help students be able to read and comprehend the information that they need/want to read!

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Many struggling learners also struggle with appropriate learning habits. It is very important for the teacher/parent to provide interesting and appropriate text for the student to read. Self-selected text is best, because the student has a desire/need to read that material. It is also very important to provide strategies that assist the struggling reader. Once these are provided, however, the student must be able to respond with appropriate, on-task, focused, learning behavior. Sometimes, unfortunately, motivation is lacking in this area.

When teaching an individual student, usually the parent/teacher can help the struggling learner develop appropriate behavior. Self-selected material and positive results provide great motivation. Positive affirmation and activity breaks after successful task completion are very helpful. The same methods can be used when using The Sounds Of Words with a group of students.

However, sometimes several students in a group are severely lacking motivation for appropriate, on-task, focused, learning behavior. In one of my high school exceptional ed groups, several students were responding to the classroom setting with extremely talkative and playful off-task behavior. Offering appropriate material, strategies, and positive affirmation was not increasing appropriate behavior. Activity breaks were not being earned. Negative reinforcement was not an answer. So I got creative.

I continued verbally affirming the students who were exhibiting appropriate learning habits, and began also writing their initials on the board, setting them up for an eventual activity break. Systematically, every ten minutes, I added a check mark to their initials, also promising a one-minute activity break for each check mark. Gradually, I added other initials and check marks. I wondered if I would need to do this every ten minutes, every day, all semester... However, to my surprise, that same day, the most talkative students demanded to know what they had to do to get their initials on the board. So, once they began to attempt appropriate behavior, I added their initials. It took several days of this systematic, concrete method before the talkative and playful behavior began to chance to more focused activity. But it did happen, and eventually all my students chose to improve their language arts skills.

Then, whenever the group needed help settling down, or staying settled for learning, I revived the use of the technique. After a short time, the students would once again return to appropriate learning activity.

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I recently attended the high school graduation ceremony for a group of students who were also graduates of The Sounds Of Words. I had helped the struggling students in 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, and/or 10th grade. They all had difficulty with decoding, fluency, and comprehension. Once they learned to use The Sounds Of Words to discover "sound spellings", reading, spelling, and writing began making sense to them.

I taught some of the former 10th grade students language arts/English, and some of them I taught World History. I had taught a few of them in elementary school as well. While teaching them, I used every available opportunity to help them do the decoding for unfamiliar words. We read the texts and discussed them together. They practiced spelling and writing words and sentences. They completed various tests. Some of those students told me that they planned to take college coursework. Others planned employment or military service. Whatever they decide, they now have a high school diploma!

Then there were eight students who graduated this year that I taught in elementary school, and who completed their high school graduation requirements in the regular classroom. In elementary school classes, I taught them how to decode words to discover the "sound spelling", and worked with them to help them develop fluency and comprehension skills. They improved their language arts skills, and they were able to maintain regular subject requirements and graduate with standard diplomas. Some of those eight will choose to study for a college diploma. All of them will have the opportunity to do so.

Being a participant in Graduation 2012 was truly exciting!

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