Why Repetition is Important in Reading Instruction

dyslexia reading Jul 22, 2022

The number of repetitions matter when planning reading instruction for the dyslexic learner, While some may believe that our lessons are filled with constant drilling of skills, this is not the case. Structured literacy is designed to weave in multiple practices within a lesson and review previously learned skills. 

I like to think of it this way: when athletes learn a new skill, they practice the movement repeatedly with the goal of perfection in mind. I was a competitive gymnast, and we would practice our routines to the point of automaticity so that when it was time to perform, it was automatic. It had been practiced over and over again. This repetition made the skills stick. A key thing to remember about repetition is that perfect practice is what makes perfect — not just practice. Performing tasks repetitively and correctly is what helps the skills learned from those tasks set in ("The Power of Repetition," 2016).

Learning happens in a very similar way. With...

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Why Use Audiobooks with Dyslexic Learners?

The topic of audiobooks comes up often and is an accommodation that I recommend for all of my students. Audiobooks have gained popularity among the general population, with 1.3 billion dollars in 2020. While audiobooks are an excellent tool for anyone, they provide additional benefits for those with dyslexia or other learning differences. We know the importance of becoming literate in our society, but how do audiobooks weigh into our children's reading goals? Let's dig into some of the benefits and possible obstacles.

Benefits of Audiobooks

Audiobooks provide access to grade-level and higher-level text

Why is this important? We need to provide students with the tools to access the curriculum. Audiobooks provide this bridge. Students are given audiobook access for curriculum reading for multiple reasons. 

Audiobooks level the playing field

Audiobooks are an accommodation that helps ensure our dyslexic learners can access the curriculum. It levels the playing field as students...

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Why You Should Analyze Your ABC Chart

When we think of classrooms, we almost always envision an alphabet with pictures posted somewhere in the room. We may not realize that the keywords or images used in alphabet posters and books matter - a lot more than you may think! Many cute and colorful alphabet posters are available, and we may gravitate toward what is aesthetically pleasing, but these are not the best choices for our students and classrooms. 

Analyzing Our ABC Charts - Why It Matters

Reading is the ability to connect spoken sounds to their letter representations. We want students to elicit the smallest unit of spoken sound, or phoneme, in its purest form. For this reason, being mindful of keywords is essential. 

What does this mean? The ability to segment phonemes (sounds) into their smallest units and then blend those sounds into words is what is needed to read and spell. Keywords or pictures we choose to link to graphemes (letter/s) need to connect directly to the individual phoneme (sound). 

In...

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The Multiple Learning Opportunities of a Spelling Dictation Lesson

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I like to snap photos of small moments in lessons and reflect on all we've accomplished. It's like a window into learning. I believe in finding ways to have every task target and reinforce multiple aspects of learning. This little photo is a perfect example. 

There is so much happening in this simple snapshot of a spelling dictation within a lesson! While this portion of the lesson is generally 5-7 minutes, you can see how much is covered and reinforced - a lot!

Multi-Sensory Handwriting

Our goal is to always move towards the automaticity and fluidity of writing. We can promote the practice of letter formation strokes in a multi-sensory way (chalk, sand trays, play dough, sandpaper, shaving cream, etc.). Practicing letter formations, the same way, creates the muscle memory needed to make handwriting automatic.

When students have labored handwriting, it impacts their ability to focus on the higher-level writing tasks because...

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How to Help Students with Reading Stress and Anxiety

anxiety reading Jan 21, 2022

When our children enter school, it is often filled with excitement and a desire to learn. Children, their families, and teachers begin their journey into education with the idea that reading will be unlocked as the lessons unfold. This reminds me of one of my favorite books, Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Pollacco. The book's family gathers around a little girl as she is about to embark on her year in kindergarten and shares how she will learn to chase knowledge through the pages of books. 

Reading is ingrained in us at a very young age with great importance. We know this is true for many reasons, but the student struggling with acquiring this skill may begin to feel anxiety and stress surrounding their struggles to unlock the words on the pages. 

These students see their peers choosing chapter books while they are still reading from an assigned book basket. They recognize that their peers complete writing assignments when they have just gotten their ideas...

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Decodable Books Are Stepping Stones Needed To Access Authentic Text

automaticty reading Dec 23, 2021

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to become a competitive diver. I was fascinated with those brave athletes who would climb the tower to the ten-meter platform and hurl their bodies off the top with grace and enter the water with the quietest splash. They made it look so easy. 

I had played around a bit at the community pool and could do some of the introductory dives and flips, and yet, no one would expect me, as a novice diver, to climb to the top of the tower and be able to perform. 

Instead, I met with my coaches every day before school at 6 am to learn the necessary skills. I practiced the same dives repeatedly, improving based on the immediate corrective feedback provided by my coach. With each gained skill, another was added, allowing me to gain the skills required to advance to compete at the collegiate level. Without the foundational stepping stones to gain skills, this wouldn't have happened. 

Athletes are trained by establishing the...

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Let's Talk About Nasals

 

Hi friends! This week, I'm going to continue our review of the consonant sound groupings. If you're working on implementing a sound wall, or you want to shift how you approach teaching phonics, then this week's post is for you.

Research shows that our brain makes memory traces of sounds by paying attention to mouth formations. When we begin with the sound, we're laying the foundation for knowledge of graphemes, or letters. This anchors our phoneme-grapheme correspondences. In my work with students, I focus on this speech-to-print approach where I explicitly teach phonemes, or those individual speech sounds, to students. I begin by introducing the sound and connection to the mouth formation.

What about those nasal  sounds?

If you haven't heard of nasals, you are not alone. Many programs or trainings may not introduce this concept, but I think you should and here's why. Consonants are usually grouped or taught according to their articulation features, or how the sound is made....

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What in the World is a Fricative?

 

Hi, friends! Today, we're continuing our review of the consonant sound groupings. If you are working on implementing a sound wall or you want to shift how you approach teaching phonics, then this is for you.

In my work with students, we focus on the speech to print approach when we explicitly teach phonemes, or those individual speech sounds, to students. We begin by introducing the sound and connection to the mouth formation. Research shows that our brain makes memory traces of sounds by paying attention to our mouth formations. When we begin with this sound, we're actually laying the foundation for knowledge of graphemes. This anchors our phoneme-grapheme correspondences.

Consonants are usually grouped, or taught, according to their articulation features or how the sound is made. We can group some consonant sounds into voiced and unvoiced pairings. These pairings are grouped based on mouth formation, where the mouth placement is, where it's the same, and the only difference is if...

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Top Strategies to Teach Stop Sounds

 

Hi, friends! I've recently had quite a lot of requests to chat about the topic of teaching stop sounds. This week, I've created a video detailing effective ways to teach this. I've also included links and information about the resources that I reference in the video. You will find them below. Click on each image to see more of the product. 

 

When we explicitly teach phonemes' articulatory features, we are helping to create links between the individual speech sounds and the letter representations. These mouth cards are designed to guide and support mouth placement and sound production directly. 

The cards tell you where the sound comes from within our mouth (front, middle, or back of the mouth), the manner of articulation (what are the teeth, lips, and tongue doing), and the use of voice or unvoiced sound production to strengthen phonological awareness, reading, and spelling. These mouth formation cues are essential for anchoring sounds to letter representations,...

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Top Tips for Clearing Up Sound Confusions

reading Aug 18, 2021
 

Is it Short e or Short i?

Hi, friends. Sound discrimination can be tricky for some students, especially the short e and short i sounds. Many children will confuse these two vowel sounds in phonology work, reading, spelling, and sometimes running speech. Some students may also struggle with phonological processing, have speech sound errors, sound substitutions, omit sounds, add sounds, or distort sounds. If this is the case for your students, keep reading. This week, I'm chatting about how explicitly teaching articulatory gestures or mouth placement is key. 

Why Teaching Mouth Placement is Important

Individual phoneme production is an integral part of reading and spelling instruction. Students need to be able to isolate phonemes to segment. The skill of segmenting is the ability to take apart individual phonemes, sounds, within words. Think of these as the parking spots for the letters that represent these sounds. 

When we help students identify the placement of their mouth...

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