How are Reading and Spelling Connected?

Hi, friends! In this week's blog post, I'm chatting about the connection, and its importance, between reading and spelling. In many classrooms across the nation, reading and spelling are taught in isolation. This provides little connection between the two, when in reality, reading and spelling are reciprocal skills. 

Let's break this down a little bit. We can think of reading and spelling as being different sides of the same coin. Reading, or decoding, is applying the sound-symbol relationships and successfully blending them to read a word. Spelling, or encoding, is the ability to segment words by individual sounds and use the correct sound-symbol correspondences in written form. 

So, continuing with the coin analogy, let's look at each side of it as being reading on one side and spelling on the other.

Reading: Breaking Down the Decoding Process

We see a word in its written form.

We segment each phoneme (sound) within the word.

We then blend those sounds together to...

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Do You Know the 4 Properties of a Letter?

letter formation teaching Jul 07, 2021

Hi, friends. Just this week, one of my middle schoolers was impressed with my handwriting and exclaimed. "Your handwriting is so pretty! How do you do that?"

Have your students ever asked you, "How can you write so quickly?" or "How can you write without looking at the letters?" These are questions that have been repeatedly asked by my students over the years, especially my older students who struggle with letter formation and handwriting fluency. 

When I think about how I learned to write letters, my mind goes back to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Katz. We had half-day kindergarten that consisted of lots of direct teaching followed by hands-on application and practice that felt a lot like play. 

One of the activities she did with us to help with letter formation was to teach the letter strokes using verbal cues, skywriting, and, my favorite, circle writing. She used to have us form a circle where we would face our peer's back. She would then give us a sound. We would...

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Top Reason to Use an Explicit Instruction Model

reading teaching May 19, 2021

Hi, friends! I'm going to start this week's blog post off in a slightly different direction than usual. Don't worry, I've got some great tips to also share with you this week.  

If you are like me, you get inspiration from design feeds and head straight to Target to purchase all the pretties. Don't you always love an excuse to browse Target's newest home decor?  

What happens, though, is that I get home with all of my goodies, and I'm not really sure what to do next. Then, I realize that I wasn't fully prepared to start decorating. 

Why? Well, because the foundational pieces in my home were not yet set or organized for me to even begin to think about decorating or taking a trip to Target. Did I mention that I have three little ones, three HUGE dogs, and a husband running around the house making it just a bit difficult to stay organized?

Anyway, what happens is that my pretty, new decor gets lost in the bigger picture of my home (or added to the pile of decor in my...

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Segmenting: A critical skill for phonemic awareness

Children participate in the process of segmenting when they are actively engaging in separating words or parts of a word into syllables or individual phonemes. This is one of the most critical skills that children need to develop for phonemic awareness. It is important for building reading and spelling skills.

For students with dyslexia or other language-based learning differences, a deficit in the phonological component of language is often at the root of difficulties in reading and spelling. Students need foundational skills explicitly taught and practiced moving systematically through the hierarchy.

  • identifying the number of words within a sentence
  • identify the number of syllables within a word
  • segment or break apart the onset and rime pattern
  • segment the individual phonemes (sounds) within a words

Segmenting is taught through explicit instruction, but learning can be extended and practiced through games and activities. There are many engaging, hands-on ways to practice...

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What is a CALT?

The title of CALT, or Certified Academic Language Therapist, was one that was new to me in the year 2008 even though I was eleven years into my career as an educator. I had worked as a classroom teacher, lead teacher and literacy coach, reading interventionist, district literacy facilitator, and curriculum writer. Even with all of this experience and trainings, I had never heard of the CALT certification.  I had been trained in many different approaches and programs, and yet I knew that there were students that were falling through the cracks. 

This sent me on a personal mission to learn more about dyslexia, and to seek out training to better help all students and educators. Twelve years later, I know that seeking highly focused training in the science of reading was the best decision that I made, as it set me on a new path in my educational career and provided me with the necessary skills and knowledge to best help students with dyslexia. 

A Certified Academic...

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