Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sharing our Reading Journey~ helping a struggling reader

This is something I have been wanting to post about for some time now~ our reading. I have two dyslexic sons I teach at home. One is a moderate dyslexic, now remediated, while the other is a severe dyslexic.

I have found some programs that have really worked for us very well and since many continue to struggle with trying to find the right fit or the right program to help their dyslexic child in the area of reading remediation I thought I might share some of the things I have done and learned along the way which have proved to be quite successful.

I would like to point out that any struggling reader whether diagnosed with dyslexia or not can benefit from these programs. A struggling reader is just that a child who has difficulty in reading. Therapies and remediation is needed regardless of the label.

I originally started with Wilson Reading Program because it came highly recommended to me by many reading specialists and also others at our local school district. I quickly found that Wilson ( OG based method) would not work for my youngest severe dyslexic. He had been working with Wilson at his local school ( much more watered down with the implementation, which play a huge part in the success of any OG based program your using or implementing)
And he also started working with the LIPS program as well with a reading specialist at the school. ( again, the implementation was not correct due to lack of resources within our school district)

Both programs showed some but little success. It was most certainly a combination of poor implementation and lack of resources of the programs. My son also came away with a horrible feeling and anxiety toward reading of any kind, reading on his own, reading out loud and even listening to a story wasn't exactly interesting or pleasant for him. To be more blunt he literally hated reading and everything that had to do with it, which can be everything you can imagine; reading directions on his school work, reading his NDS/Wii games, reading road signs etc... literally anything that dealt with reading was taboo for him. We had a long road ahead of us but I was up for the challenge.

I started researching reading programs after having the boys diagnosed and found one program of particular interest. I contacted the author of the program and began to learn more. It was a phono graphix based program~ a program that emphasizes phoneme awareness and "sound to print orientation".

I found Read America and began learning about Carmen McGuiness and read the book Reading Reflex.

After working through this book I decided upon a program:

ABeCeDarian, a PG (phono graphix based reading method) based reading program. You can read more about it from the link provided. Written by Dr. Michael Bend, PhD.
Note: There is a yahoo group you can join to learn more and even get help from reading tutors, reading specialists, and also Dr. Bend himself who can answer questions and help along the way.

We saw almost instantly the difference between the OG Method and the PG Method ~ it was most certainly a fit. My son actually enjoyed our reading lessons and I would make up fun games for the fluency charts and it really brought back his confidence and interest in reading.

From there I could see my son needed just a bit more practice with specific word parts so I was recommended Phonics for Reading to use before we moved into the other AbeCeDarian Books. My son placed right about where I thought he would be ~ the last level number three. We have been working this book all year long and my son absolutely loves it. He has been very conditioned to working remediation programs so there are no bells and whistles, no games, nothing fancy just a very good multi-sensory comprehensive reading approach that has helped his reading decoding and encoding (spelling), vocabulary, comprehension and fluency take off.

The Lessons are broken down into these parts as follows:
New Sound that is emphasized for the lesson
A. New Words
B. Challenge Words ( looping/segmenting is used for syllables)
C. Word Parts
D. Words and Word Parts (words are broken down into affixes)
E. Sight Words ( these would be every day words like the dolch lists etc..)
F. Passages (student reads a short story)
G. Practice Activity (comprehension questions about story read)
H. Practice Activity ( exercises that works with words/word meaning/usage
I. Practice Activity( exercise that words with specific words introduced in lesson)

Using the Teachers Manual there are also spelling exercises and ways of tracking fluency as well from the reading passages.

We follow a set routine daily with these lessons. I should mention that the lessons from first glance may look short but each lesson is fairly comprehensive and for us, I find that it is best each day to go back and review certain areas. ( the new word sounds, the new challenge words, word parts and sight words) This helps reinforce your efforts in helping them become much more fluent and helps build great confidence. ( so we work Parts A - E each time we work on the lesson).

We are about half way through this program and this is the last level for this book, so we will need to move on. I had to break it to my son lightly and quickly showed him his next program he will be moving into, which he was very pleased about. Once again the experience and guidance from Dr. Bend and his group came through for us.

(I decided against going back to Abecedarian Level c due to the great amount of success and enthusiasm my son has expressed toward this new program which will take him through the upper grades as well)

Rewards Intermediate will be our next program we will move forward with. I was very happy to see how the program runs, here is a sample pdf from their site. Here is an overview of the full program.

You can only imagine how please I was to see that I could continue this kind of modality with my son - seeing his success and his interest and love of reading return has been such a gift to us, it has opened many more doors to his world and will continue to open many more doors and opportunites for him~

I am hopeful that some of this information is helpful to some who may be struggling with teaching their children to read. It can be a long road but the effort and work is so very much worth the journey.
Many times programs that are a fit and work well ~ you will see a child be able to work more consistent in their efforts and will see things begin to flow for them and their processing of the newly learned skills. If you see your learner is struggling continually after using a program for 6-8 weeks it may not be the right fit for him/her. Look toward a different method or modality toward teaching reading. There are so many programs out there, finding the right method can help make things much more successful.

Happy Reading~

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Backtracking- learning as we go ~

I suppose you could say we are "backtracking". We decided to go back to our old writing program, we just missed it too much! Yes, it's that good~

A bit ago I posted about our writing program we had been using. I saw how my boys were slipping in their enthusiasm to want to write they way they did previously. ( IEW )
I started looking at the writing program we were using and talked it over with the boys and we decided to head in a different direction. We moved onto a program you may recall me mentioning WriteShop.

I read up on it and it seemed to be a good fit for my 13yo son. I read lots of great reviews on it so I decided to pick it up and we began working on it about a month ago. I read all through the Teachers Manuals etc so we started in on the program and we found we really didn't like it.

We had done several lessons and I found there to be a great deal of busy work and worksheet type exercises leading up to the writing process. We didn't like that. We aren't really "big" on worksheets to begin with and this seemed very similar to me like the "watered down" writing assignments I would get when I was in school. ( and I didn't like that, lol )

I think I my perspective is kind of biased since we began and had been working with IEW. Each writing program I look at I use my own experience with IEW to work with it and so do my boys.

My 13yo seemed to not like the WriteShop really at all and it seemed to work against his strengths and seemed to emphasize his weaknesses much more and I couldn't have that ~ so we both decided to go back and stay with IEW through the rest of his middle learning years and then beyond to his high school years.

I see IEW with a new perspective. It is a very structured program in that it is designed to be used as a kind of formula for good writing structure and for writing style. There is no doubt this program helps inspire good writing and takes a very forward approach to writing which we both realized we really like and now can appreciate. The "matter of fact" (if you will) approach and modality of the program really helps my boys to learn and write to their best abilities.

We will change things from before so there is not the burnout we had gone through previously, one thing that is nice is our changing over to using Oak Meadow~ it will work nicely with IEW so I think we will be able to fit more modeling time in and working daily in smaller steps than we had to before.

I was happy to set Write Shop aside and impressed my son could see this did not fit his learning style. Many of us as adults are not able to see these things so I was very proud of him today. He really is growing both in body and mind.

Both programs can work and are very good writing programs. I just think it is interesting how I have read reviews of others who have children that did not work well with IEW; so they then switched to WriteShop and had great success, while others had not had found success with Write Shop and found IEW to be a fit. :) I really think it depends on the child and the parent.

IEW ( Institute of Excellence in Writing)
Here is a review about the IEW TWSS (Teacher Writing Stucture and Style) from Curriculum Choice Blog.
and another review from This Old Schoolhouse Magazine, this one I found interesting,lol I think it is important to be mindful of reviews. Some reviews are from people who have never actually used the programs~ imagine that? :) Some of the confusion in this person's review can be completely cleared up by actually using the program and working through the units themselves, I never found any confusion with the DVD's and the notebooks. You have to work through it and everything is outlined for you in the student pages along with schedules, dvd tracking sheets etc.. from the IEW families group, which one would only know about if you actually used it.
Here is some reviews from others who have used it, from Choosy Homeschooler.

Here is a review about the Writeshop I program from This Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
Here is a review from Cathy Duffy

* anyone interested I have WriteShop I for sale~ email if you think you would like to try it. It is brand new :)

Happy Writing~ whichever program that makes you write "right" :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arthur Episode about Friends and also Aspergers~

I recently saw a blog post about a new upcoming episode of Arthur entitled " When Carl Met George" which airs on April 5th and marks Arthur's 13th Season! This particular episode is near and dear to our hearts and is about a new friend that Carl meets~ and this new friend has Aspergers.

Can you believe it will be their 13 Season ? My boys really do not watch Arthur any longer but it used to be one of their most favorite shows. We plan on watching this one~

If your interested here is a video of part of the segment to watch, my boys enjoyed seeing this~ you can find it at Hilltop Homeschool.

Happy Learning~

Learning about Columbus with our Oak Meadow and Making a Boat!

Today we are finishing up our lesson on Christopher Columbus and one of the projects was to make a boat. The lesson project called for a piece of wood and a drill etc.. I took a look at it and sighed. But my son came to the rescue and thought it would be better instead of going and buying wood to use a sponge and straws or dowels instead.

I let him go to town and he thought up all of these things by himself. He designed it all on his own and is now make a bigger one with (you guessed it ) more sponges and we are hot gluing them together to make a big captains ship. :)

He will probably be working on this new one through the weekend. He already painted the dowels made from disposable sponge paint brushes and is using the black sponge part for lifeboats... :)

He loved this and it worked out even better since I really am not used to using drills with wood so I was very happy this turned out well.

It was a really fun history day and we even tested out to see if it would stay afloat and it did! :)

Next is Jamestown and he is all excited about reading "If You Sailed on the Mayflower". I bought two books, I like to do this with him because we take turns reading or he or I can follow along with each other while reading.

Happy Learning~

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Year 7 Book lists ~

I really think I could actually keep right on going with this list. But I had to stop somewhere. This list only encompasses Economics, History, Science and Fictional Reading and some Math Readers as well.

I think after having looked over and picked up BFIAR ( Beyond Five in a Row) I believe I could honestly pick up a book and use it as a whole lesson while integrating all the subjects just from that one book. It is really so much fun to do, however that would be perfect for Years 1-3 possibly or even 4 but my 13 yo needs a much more structured list for of topics to cover now the he is getting older. Not that I won't still do this, we always do and it leads to many bunny trails which some really despise but I just love, because for us this is when the real interest led learning can happen.

As I had mentioned in my previous post I have been working on their book lists and think I am just about finished with Year 7. Here is our list so far. ( I do not plan to attempt to have my son read every single selection and some of the books will be spread over the year if not into more than two years).

(Resources I used to make my book lists so far is: Mater Amabillis, Ambleside Online Pre Year 7, Penny Gardner, "For the Love of Literature" by Maureen Whittman and The Book Peddler)

Year 7 * Texts and programs using: Apologia General Science & Oak Meadow 6

Our Supreme Court- A History with 14 Activities by Richard Panchyk
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? Rick Maybury
House Mouse, Senate Mouse - Peter & Cheryl Shaw Barnes

Blood and Guts by Linda Allison
The Story of Medicine by Anne Rooney

Great Inventors and their Inventions - Baldwin Project

*Historical Science*
Science of the Past Series - Science in Mesopotamia, by Carol Moss
Science in Ancient Egypt, by Geraldine Woods
Science in Ancient Rome, by Jacqueline Harris
Science in Ancient China, by George Beshore
Science in India, by Melissa Stewart
Archimedes and the Door of Science
Secrets of the Universe Series- Liquids and Gases: Principles of Fluid Mechanics
Matter and Energy: principles of Matter and Thermodynamics
Modern Physics
The Seashell on the Mountaintop, by Alan Cutter ( Geology)

Nature Study

Keeping a Nature Journal, by Clare Walker Leslie
Handbook of Nature, by Ann Comstock

Classic Literature/Fiction/Free Reading

Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne
Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Scarlet Pimperel, by Baroness Orczy
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
Hatchett by Gary Paulsen
Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Captain Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

History ( World) - Using specifically OM 6 Ancient Civilizations

The Story of Mankind by Van Loon - Baldwin Project
An Island Story HE Marshall- Baldwin Project
The Story of the Greeks by Helen Guerber - Baldwin Project
The Story of the Romans by Helen Guerber - Baldwin Project
Story of the World, Vol 3 Modern Times by Susan Wise Bauer
Story of the World, Vol 4 Modern Age by Susan Wise Bauer
The Odyssey

( Fictional Literature)
Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Rainbow People, Laurence Yep
D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths
The Adventures of Robin Hood
A Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angli

American History - Using only living books for learning this time period in history.

The Country of Ours; Story of the United States (avail online) *we started this week/loves it
The History of the US and It's People, by Edward Eggleston
Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane( Civil War)
Braving the Fire by John B. Severance (Civil War novel)
American Heroes: Joshua Chamberlain and the Amer. Civil War
The Civil War Almanac , World Almanac Publications
Coming to America: The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro
The Colors of Freedom: Immigrations Stories by Janet Bode
Across America on An Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy Clarion
Industrial Revolution a Living History Book by John Clare Harcourt
Kids at Work: Lewis Hines and his Crusuade against Child Labor Russell Freedman
First World War by John D. Clare
Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothy Lange by Elizabeth Partridge
But No Candy by Gloria Houston (WWII)
Hiroshima No Pika, by Toshi Maruki William & Morrow
Let the Celebrations Begin!, by Margaret Wild
Lily's Crossing, by Patricia Reilly Giff

I do plan on adding to this list and we may not read all of these but this is kind of where I am starting. I am sure we may when working on a topic go and find some really helpful books at our library also so the list will certainly get longer~

Friday, March 12, 2010

Using Living Books to surround our learning ~ Literature Based Learning

So I am hearing this with my 13yo over and over again and finally I am trying to connect things... He always says, "I wish all I could do all day is read and read..." anyone ever hear this well I am .
He loves reading and when he has an interest in a book he can't seem to keep his nose out of it once he gets going :)

So having heard this over and over I have been mulling over book lists that go with our OM program and also started meandering around the Ambleside Online website to learn more and their yahoo groups.

I am not sure all of the titles would suit my son but many seemed quite good. He loves living books and learning this way~ I am finding more and more as he gets older this seems to take over his learning and am thinking of just deciding to go much more into this and allow him to follow this strength~

I spent yesterday evening kind of looking over the FAQ's of Ambleside Online and sort of trying to learn more about how we can maybe change things so that his reading can be his focus while learning his subjects.

We are happy with our Oak Meadow but find he needs much more enrichment with it since he is very history and science minded learner. I am thinking that allowing him to use this strength to further learn these subjects and allow him to make his own relations between the subjects and topics may be very beneficial to him.

As I read forward about Ambleside I realized how similar our day could look if we decided to go down this pathway. My son very often will pick up a National Geographic read the whole article and come in and want to discuss what he has learned.. ( oral narration) he loves creating pictures and sketches of things he has read or trying his hand at something that was done in the past ~ (handicrafts).

Because reading is a strength, I had switched him to using LLATL back last year and found that incorporating his grammar and writing lessons into what he is reading, brings much more meaning for him than the "busy work" that is often extended in many LA programs. I could very easily incorporate his LA into a more literature based learning environment.

I suppose I am learning to sit and see the "busy work" - has anyone noticed how much busy work that goes into some of these programs? Looking back at the purpose or meaning can be troubling especially when you see that there have not been any advantages to doing those particular questions or taking that particular "test". ( written narration helps to bring out the writer in our children and helps them to find their own voice, while tests seem quite subjective and only tell us or them what they do not know ).

I am not exactly positive, but I sense a kind of teaching transformation taking place ~ each time I have this happen, I am reminded to continue to go back to teaching more and more like Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason ~ pulling back and side stepping all those fancy programs that seem so fitting and some are but for many they fall to the side only to collect dust on our shelves.

This weekend will be great to take a bit of time and go through my shelves and make some books lists of reading we will do both together and separately.

Once we get things mapped out a bit more I will share my lists that I have prepared for what topics just in case some may find it helpful.

Spring is here and what a wonderful time for new things and exploring :) I think this is what makes our homeschooling journey such a gift ~ which is why we are learning at home. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Looking for Daily Curriculum Ideas~ check out Clickschooling !

I subscribe to the newsletter Clickschooling by Diane Flynn Keith. I really like many of the resources she shares. Each day a Newsletter is sent out with the theme for the day, the themes are as follows;

Monday - Math

Tuesday - Science

Wednesday - Language Arts

Thursday - Social Studies

Friday - Virtual Field Trips

Saturday - Music, Art and Foreign Languages

Many of the resources shared are really helpful and are a great way to supplement and add fun, interesting ways to learn for all kinds of children.

You can sign up for free ~ and if you would like to see resources you missed you can find them in the archives here.

If I am looking for something in particular I tend to go back to the archives and I almost always find something I was looking for~ :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Loving Literature ~ bringing the boys learning together

I wrote today about our morning over on AKOL and noticed how reading aloud brings us so much closer in our learning at home~ here is a snippet of my post on the group and a few notes to myself~

I wanted to share about our morning we had. My boys are not Monday boys~ they have a hard time getting going on Monday morning, not sure if anyone else here has those troubles, but yup, we do~ Monday mornings are a bit hazy~ so this morning started off like most of our Mondays do, my 13 yo curled up in a big comforter watching the morning Fox and Friends ( one of his favorite shows, lol) and the youngest still fast asleep at 8:30. ~

We have breakfast and they do their morning routines and then it is time to start our studies. Chris decides (which he does almost every morning) he is going to read first. So he grabs his reading book and plops back down to read for about an hour... ( he loves reading).

* Each boy has a checklist that is outlined for the week that is color coded and lists their subjects ( not assignments since this can change often depending on what we are doing). This is to just keep them on track so I am not giving orders all morning. :) *

Peyt was complaining he was really tired, ( doesn't usually say this so I had a feeling he was not fully himself)
While Chris reads this gives me time to work with Peyt and so we begin by doing some math... I decided to change things up a bit and have him work on the CD I posted about Mastering Mathematics at first ( like he usually is) he said he won't like it... I pretend I don't hear it and keep moving on with the program and showing him what we are going to do today, Multiplication. He hears the music and all of a sudden is engaged.
We worked together on practicing his math facts and I reinforced a few others things he has learned. ( vocab etc..)

I noticed as he worked he did well but began laying on my shoulder and slouching and I could see he was loosing steam fast today. I looked at the clock, we had been working for about 20 minutes I decided it was enough. He curled up next to me and I could see something was happening... his lip started to tremble... he said he didnt do as well as he wanted today with math... ( we are learning the 4's time tables) .
We talked and he was nearing a meltdown.

I decided he was in no shape to move to another subject like phonics or LLATL so I grabbed a read aloud we had started the other day for our history lesson " Where do think your going Christopher Columbus" by Jean Fritz. ( History is a favorite of his)

I told him I was going to read some of this if he would like to listen and draw while I read... he nodded. I began reading.... and reading and reading, he put his drawing down and listened intently and started to ask questions and become fully engaged again. All of a sudden from the other room Chris came in and plopped down onto one of the big chairs to listen and I read and read and we talked and I read and then Chris made his way over to the couch where we sat to see the pictures and he was fully interested. I just kept reading pretending not to notice, we then moved to the other room to look at the globe and talk more about the book and travels... we were all working together at this point.

Before I knew it both boys had a full morning of studying Christopher Columbus~ I had not anticipated reading as long as we did, but conversations turned into vocabulary lessons and concerns and considerations of cultures and map exploring etc... it really brought us together.

This article really explains how we use literature in our home and for us it comes quite natural:

I love literature and really hope to continue to bring much more literature into our home learning to replace our textbook type learning~ we have been successful in doing this so far~ my next thought was hmmm, I need to pull much more read a-louds into our day and I thought just how am I going to do that when our days seem so short already~

Jimmie talks about this in an article I found from Heart of the Matter: This really helped remind me to use these more~ and I really like her ideas for using them and thought others might like them as well.

Reading aloud has so many gifts, today for example it help steer a little guy right back into something he loves~ history. It brought an older brother into a lesson that help makes things even more rich and worthwhile.

My to do list: need to add more read a-louds to my list

check out audios online and at our local library with their online catalog

look for duplicate books for doing popcorn reading while we do read a-louds like we did with

Mr. Poppers Penguins.

Happy Reading ~

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


We started our new Science today~ Oak Meadow and my youngest was not too sure he was going to be "too interested" in learning about Scientific Inquiry~ I have to admit I wasn't really excited about teaching it either~ :S.

But we opened up our binder and started reading and I had a few things I wanted to incorporate with him;
I had recently picked up a used copy of Write Source 2000 Student Handbook it is a really helpful guide (for 6th grade approximately) and I had been reading through it one day and I happened upon a section on classroom skills that talked a bit about note taking... it explained some unique how to's and why's of note taking so I decided to try this out with my little guinea pig..( I use my youngest first before I attempt it on my older son, lol )

It explained how only writing on half the page is helpful so that the learner can go back and add more notes if they need to for vocabulary or special reminders, etc..

I decided to take his science journal and fold the page in half so it makes an automatic line in the page and we began our notes… afterwards while reading along with our book we then went over the new information once again and went over any “new words” he may not have known.. if there were some he did not know we used colored markers and wrote over on the left hand side of the page to explain the new words and also added even more color for helpful reminders like a mnemonic (these are always very helpful to him) when we were about finished he really liked how his “notes” turned out and was quite pleased with himself.

While learning about Scientific Inquiry I was pleased as we read on how OM took us to a more comfortable “spot” –which talked about birds and comparing bird beaks etc… this made him feel much more comfortable with learning this new material and understanding of scientific inquiry and he enjoyed finding pictures of birds and sorting them according to their bird beaks and explaining why birds have different beaks.. it helped him to make connections and made a lot of sense to him as an example of how and what we do when we perform a scientific inquiry.

Today was a very good first day with our Oak Meadow ~

You might like these~

Popular Posts