Monday, July 6, 2009

Subject Study for Summer: Reading, in our Home~

Throughout the summer I am hoping to be able to outline how we learn in our Home. My plan is to continue to explain how I manage my teaching in our home and for my different learners.
Language Arts is a fairly broad subject. It encompasses Reading, Spelling, Vocabulary, Writing, Grammar and Usage~ so instead of writing about Language Arts as a whole subject, I plan to break it down into chunks to make things easier.

I thought I would begin with Reading. For us, Reading, in and of itself , is a vast subject, believe it or not, and I have to pause just to think about what exactly and how I will begin to explain how we do Reading in our home.
An article and book review I found by Ruth Beechick on Learning to Read, and some ways I helped my son, even "before" we started our remediation ~

Reading in our home looks different for each of my boys, the reason for this is that they each learn differently. Both boys have been diagnosed with Dyslexia and although many will not be interested or may be bothered by such labels, for me this was an important piece to our puzzle.

I began researching Reading Remediation Programs for the boys trying to pinpoint which will be beneficial and the most cost effective. I found that so many people who also had dyslexic children felt that a particular program that helped their child, would most certainly help mine. They would cite statistics and research that had been done on various Orton Gillingham programs. I listened and read and read some more.

We tried one OG based Program that was not a match for my boys.. it emphasized their weaknesses and I found that in doing so, we would not see progress. Generally, I have found and in speaking with authors and doctors of programs that when attempting a new reading program the general rule is to give it at least 6-8 weeks time and see how things are doing. If at that time things are remaining the same and frustration is setting in, then perhaps it is best to move forward toward another program that might be better suited for your learner.

I found a Phono Graphix based program called ABeCeDarian. I began asking questions to some real concerns I had, over whether or not it would be effective with my boys. ABeCeDarian has a yahoo group that is very helpful. Dr. Michael Bend, the educator and author of the program helps parents and educators help their children to read. The individuals on this group are a combination of teachers, reading specialists, academic therapists, home educators and various other therapists like SLP's and OT's, that attempt to provide remediation and support for struggling readers. I cannot say enough kind words about these individuals. (and they all know who I am talking about, smile) Through time, support and understanding I am helping our boys learn to read consistently, quickly and correctly for their learning needs and abilities.

This program is quite unique, based around the Phono Graphix model it is an outstanding alternative from the OG based programs, if your learner is still struggling with reading and learning to decode.

We begin our reading with usually a few pages of instruction (teaching time) working from our AbeCeDarian Program. These are usually quick and very fluent, a few days a week we also will do fluency drills which have helped the boys dramatically and they LOVE these, where before I could not get them to be timed on anything.. now they try to beat their own scores when they try a list... it is really fun to do and never "feels" like a chore.. at least not to them, although I have to admit after two fluency drills they like to keep going to beat their own scores I get king of tired of it.. and want to end but not them~ typical boys, make anything a competition and you have hooked them.
*A powerpoint, "processes of learning to read":

* more information on fluency and automaticity:

After we finish our quick teaching time we usually do our quiet reading for my 12 year old where he will go and settle in a comfy chair and pull out his favorite book he started. My younger son will take out his book and we will both settle into our den on the comfy couch and he will read orally to me for about 15 minutes.. some days we may go a bit over if we are at a good part of the book, other days it may be shorter, all depending on the intensity of the work we did previously for AbeCeDarian.

Afterwards it is back together for oral narration about what they read. This really has helped their comprehension practice. Some days we will also do written narration on their notebook pages for their binders and they enjoy this and make pictures of certain points in the story.

Gone are the days of "read the story and answer the questions". My boys detested this and yes, I admit at first I was a bit skeptical about using "only" narration but I tried going back and doing the story questions etc.. and it just never worked as well as the oral and written narration.

We also let the boys draw pictures or make comics for their narrations as well, a kind of graphic novel if you will, they LOVE this and I feel it is quite good to do since I have two "budding animators" in my midst :) By the way, this can be done for all subjects like history and also science and even math.

We also try and keep a read-a-loud going at our house. One that comes to mind quickly that was a real hit was when we did "Mr. Poppers Penguins". I purchase books for each of the boys and one for myself and they follow along as I read.. we also do popcorn reading with this as an exercise to help with tracking and it makes things quite fun and more interesting.

{the above link for popcorn reading is a few ideas as to how it can be done, here is how we decided to do popcorn reading to help with tracking for my youngest. In the story Mr. Poppers Penguins, the Penguin will occasionally "pipe in " and make a few silly sounds and my youngest was very interested in these silly penguin sounds, (I noticed as he would comment on them and mimic the penguin) so I decided each time the penguin was going to say something I would pause and look up at my youngest who would read the word and come back with the silly sound~ it was real fun and I noticed it created for him a kind of intensity to the reading that had not been there before by forcing him to track my reading with his finger and keep up with the story to know when it was the penguins "turn" to talk. } :)

Read a louds:

"Remind everyone around you that children do learn during the joy of hearing a purposeful read aloud. Now is the only time we have and we must give our children the best we have to give." ~ by Reba M. Wadsworth, a retired Elementary Principal

Reading out loud to the boys really seemed to bring back a love or books and reading. One book that really helped me get started on reading out loud to my boys was: The Read-ALoud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

Jim Trelease's Home Page

We often read at night to the boys but never had I thought or considered the importance of reading to them while teaching. I never had teachers read to me once I entered into the older elementary grades ( grade 2 and up). I missed it, and knew how much I enjoyed listening to the stories in class. It seemed to me looking back, that the stories I had read to me, stayed with me, they became my favorites. I can't really explain why but they are. I loved hearing the words and would make images in my mind as the teachers words flowed off the page. I just loved it can you tell? It was as though it was a gift to me..

Literature Studies~

We found literature studies this year were alot of fun. Currently we are working on a unit based on the Box Car Children from Homeschool Share.

When we are reading we will dive a bit deeper into the story and explore things - similiar to a literary anaylsis but on a much younger level.

Some resources I use to help me along with this are:

Homeschool Share

Homeschool Helper

Glencoe Literature Library


World Wide School

Sleeping Bear Press

Carole Hurst Literature Site

TIP: Traffic Lights are a help; problems with "run on reading". When my youngest began reading a bit more quickly I noticed he would not stop for the punctuation marks. I recently had been talking with a homeschool mum about this same exact scenario and I explained what I thought up to help this with my youngest.

Use the punctuation marks as tools which is how they are to be used in reading. Think of them as traffic lights or signals to give us "symbols" as to what to do next.

For periods we would picture a red traffic light, meaning we need to stop at the end of the sentence.

A comma, could be the yellow traffic light where we might need to pause, just to take a breathe and be cautious for what is to come. The same for a question mark.

For the exclamation mark this would be green for "go" .

I saw that my son, being a more visual learner picked up on this right away and decided in a few of our readers, I hi-lited the punctuation at the end of the sentences. This has helped him quite a bit and slowed the rapid run on reading he would do by quite a bit. :)

The boys have taken to reading and finally enjoying their books, often we will find them exploring books on our coffee tables that strike their interest. We have books of all kinds all over our home. Our coffee table has the large hard cover books you often find on coffee tables with artists like the Life of Frank Sinatra, the book and images from It's a Wonderful Life, a Book on Disease and a Book on World Religions..,as eclectic as this seems, it intrigues them. ~

Our living room has one of those HUGE, (I mean really huge like you could sit in it, huge) baskets with a handle. Here, we have our Time magazines, Family Circle, National Geograhic, Muse, Newsweek, Art Study, and too many others to mention. Daily newspapers are common On our tables along with book catalogues and book club magazines to glance through.

Books fill our books shelves which keep getting over loaded...and are there for our reading enjoyment and our learners at home.

1 comment:

Mark Pennington said...

For an analysis of why round robin and popcorn reading are pedagogical flops, visit

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