Spalding Education International presented an overview of The Writing Road to Reading on July 22, 2010 on a webinar through the Homeschooling Magazine. Several participants had questions that were not answered due to time constraints. We have reviewed all questions, categorized them according to subject, combined some that were similar, and provided answers.
Special Education Questions
1. I have a child in special education that has comprehension problems. She has an auditory processing disorder. Any tips?
Multisensory instruction is necessary for children with specific disorders. They need to see, hear, say, and write the sound symbols (phonograms). Learning the phonograms helps children learn to read, spell, and write. This process uses all sensory channels to the brain. The stronger channels will reinforce the weaker, such as the auditory. Often, children with auditory processing problems need individual instruction that is free from outside distractions. Auditory processing problems also require sequential instruction that proceeds from the simple concepts to the more complex. Directly teach your children to become an active listener by teaching (modeling) a concept, then ask check for understanding questions frequently to keep your child actively listening and engaged in the lesson. Teaching higher-level thinking skills through questioning strategies will also be helpful because using the visual, tactile, and kinesthetic skills will strengthen the auditory skills. Using earphones to listen to the phonogram sounds may also be helpful.
2. How much of this will work with special children? It seems like a lot they wouldn't be interested in or understand.
Actually, children with special needs do very well with The Writing Road to Reading program. What many children are missing is the direct, sequential, systematic instruction that can be provided through The Spalding Method. Learning that words are made up of sounds (phonemic awareness), and then learning the phonograms through multisensory instruction helps children with special needs learn to read, write, and spell. Intensive instruction in spelling is especially important for children with special needs. Teaching children to read words in the spelling lesson, then write and read sentences in the writing lesson builds their ability to read longer text in the reading lesson. Emphasis at first on oral language is helpful because children learn how the language works through listening and speaking. This integrated approach to teaching helps children learn how spelling, writing, and reading are connected. Reading enjoyable stories and discussing what makes them entertaining helps children develop a love of reading.
Assessing, Where to Begin, Delivering Curriculum Questions
1. If they have not been taught this from the beginning, then how will I know where to start them in the program? How can I assess my child to determine their instructional level? Where can I get this assessment? How do you teach children at different levels, i.e., a 4th grader and an 8th grader?
If you have children who are second grade and above, we suggest you give them a spelling assessment test which is available by contacting Spalding Education International at <firstname.lastname@example.org> to receive a copy of the first test with instructions on how to determine the instructional level of your child. Once that is determined, you will know where to begin introducing spelling/vocabulary words that are at the correct level of difficulty for your child. Once the appropriate instructional level has been determined, Teacher's Guides are available for K-6 grades to assist in teaching spelling, writing, and reading concepts. Using the 6th grade guide for the 8th grade child is appropriate. Refer to the Scope and Sequence pages 442-453 of The Writing Road to Reading for 8th grade skills that must be mastered by the end of the year.
All children, no matter the age, begin by learning the phonograms. Kindergartners learn four new phonograms per week, first graders learn four new phonograms per day, while second graders and above can learn more phonograms in a shorter period of time. The pacing for teaching the phonograms to children at the 4th and 8th grade levels can be the same. Teaching children to say the phonogram sounds, then write the phonograms using easy, legible handwriting techniques, immediately connects the speech sounds to print.
2. How long, generally, are daily lessons using this method?
SEI recommends 60-90 minutes per day for kindergarten spelling, writing, and reading lessons, 90 minutes for first-third grade lessons, and up to 120 minutes for fourth grade and above. Times suggested in the spelling, writing, and reading lessons are flexible to allow the freedom for spending more time on a spelling lesson one day and more time on writing or reading the next. The Teacher's Guides are a general pacing guide for instruction in spelling, writing, and reading.
Preschool Age Children Question
1. My daughter is learning to sound out three-letter words and she is three. What should I be doing?
First, teach your daughter to say (not sing) the alphabet so that she can recognize letters. Then teach her the first 26 (the alphabet) phonogram sounds. This will open the doors to more segmenting, counting, and blending of sounds in words. Continue this process of phonemic awareness training and begin introducing her to the words by writing them for her and having her sound with you for spelling (sounding each word by individual sounds) and for reading (reading as whole words). Talk with your child using complete sentences so that she hears the language correctly. This will begin the process of learning sentence construction later on. Read enjoyable books to her with expression. Talk with her about who the story is about, where the story takes place, and what happens in the story. Read books that have information (facts) and talk about what she learned. Listening to you read aloud will help to develop her love for reading.
Home Educator Kits/Materials Questions
1. What grade level home school kits are available? Do they include a complete Language Arts curricula? How are they presented, i.e., as guides or scripted?
There are complete kits for each grade level K-6 available that include the materials needed to begin teaching Language Arts (spelling, writing, and reading) to your child at home. You will receive The Writing Road to Reading text and a Teacher's Guide for the grade level you request including the phonogram cards, phonogram CD, McCall-Harby/Crabbs Test Lessons in Reading and User's Guide, and spelling/vocabulary notebook.
We suggest that you go to our website at <www.spalding.org> to listen to an overview of The Writing Road to Reading, view a video presentation, and register for the Home Educator online course before beginning instruction. This will help you use all of the materials you receive in the most effective manner.
2. What are the additional phonogram cards for?
Seventeen additional phonograms represent the sounds of letter combinations that are not included as part of the 70 phonograms because they are used in only a few words. The 17 additional phonogram cards are included in daily phonogram instruction when spelling/vocabulary words are introduced that have these uncommon spellings/sounds so they are introduced when needed to spell high frequency words in the spelling list. For example, the first word introduced with an additional phonogram occurs in Section L. First graders are introduced to only 2 of the 17 additional sounds. In second grade and above children are introduced to them as needed. The Teacher's Guide lists the additional phonogram(s) to include in the week's oral and written phonogram reviews. The phonogram reviews for that week and in subsequent weeks would include these new phonograms until they are mastered.
3. If I am ordering a kit, do I need to order the Reader sets as well to get started?
The Leveled Reader sets are useful at the beginning of the year to teach children text structure. You can read these to your child and talk about the characters, setting, and an event to teach them narrative text structure. Or read an informative book to teach them facts about a topic. By week 10 in kindergarten, children have learned enough phonograms (the first 30) to read the first book in Series 1. Have your child read a few pages each day of the week, finishing the book by the end of the week. Series 2 books can be used in the same manner in first grade for teaching text structure. By week 5 of first grade, children can begin reading these books on their own following the same pattern as described above.
1. Can this help a middle school child to improve spelling and writing composition? I have two boys, 9 and 11, who love to read, but dread spelling and get frustrated. They read all the time and my 11 year old loves to write his own stories. How can I help them with spelling and handwriting, especially cursive writing?
Teaching children the phonograms and how these sounds are used in words will improve their spelling. Breaking the words down into their individual sounds or by syllables increases their ability to spell even more difficult words. Many times they can spell unfamiliar words they have never encountered. As you teach the phonograms, teach them to write the letters that represent the sounds using the information included in The Writing Road to Reading pages 11-32. Have them write in manuscript first because this provides the framework for writing in cursive. Once they are forming their letters correctly in manuscript, you can begin to teach them cursive writing following the procedures that begin on page 32. Teaching precise handwriting techniques help children develop pride in their work. Developing an easy, legible handwriting helps children write automatically because they have learned the principles of handwriting well, and it no longer presents difficulty or is a stumbling block to writing their thoughts on paper.
2. Why do you teach that the letter y says just 3 sounds and not the "e" sound?
Spalding teaches only 3 sounds of y. Precise pronunciation of each syllable written is required because it clarifies the sounds for children as nothing else can. It facilitates clear speech and thus counteracts the tendency toward slurring the sounds of our language. Pronounce the vowel sounds in the non-accented syllables as they are written. For instance, the word baby is pronounced with the first sound of i (short sound), the second syllable being the non-accented syllable. If we were to teach that the second syllable says "be", children would have the tendency to use e instead of y. This pronunciation clarifies the spelling of words ending in y and eliminates the possibility of incorrect spelling. Reading the words for spelling (by sounds or syllables) and then for reading (the whole word in normal speech) helps children quickly learn both the spelling and the pronunciation of words.
3. Having read The Writing Road to Reading twice and watched the spelling video, I am still a little confused about when to move to the spelling notebook and begin dictation and marking. When do you use the Word Builder Cards. Can you clarify this for me?
Children begin writing in the spelling notebook after the first 45 phonograms have been introduced and they are accurate with the pronunciations. Each Grade-Level Teacher's Guide provides an objective that states, "Read (segment) and blend (spelling/vocabulary words) in spelling/vocabulary notebook." Usually, in grades 2-6, this occurs in Academic Week 2.
Use the Word Builder Cards to practice rules after they have been introduced. There are instruction cards with each set of Word Builder Cards that explain what rules are illustrated on the cards and suggestions for ways to practice.
Grammar/Writing Process Questions
1. Would illustrating be put in with lower grade primary students?
The Writing Process includes 5 stages: prewriting, composing, revising, editing, and publishing. Children love to illustrate their stories, but the focus of the writing process is on writing. Illustrating is encouraged as a final step after primary children have used the writing process to create and refine their stories.
2. When is grammar taught?
Grammar is taught during the writing lessons. The first objective in every writing lesson in the Grade-Level Teachers' Guides is to use the unfamiliar spelling words in oral or written sentences. The sequence for teaching during writing is attributes of sentences, the four types of simple sentences, compound sentences, and complex sentences including the appropriate capitalization and punctuation. Then teach parts of speech, prefixes, suffixes, base and word roots, and language rules that affect the spelling of words. Finally, teach related sentences and the writing process to compose paragraphs and compositions. Learning all parts of words and the construction of good sentences, paragraphs, and compositions enhances children's vocabulary development and improves reading comprehension.
3. What grammar program would be best to use with the Spalding Method?
The Spalding Grade-Level Teacher's Guides provide definitions of all grammar components needed to teach the writing lessons. Example sentences and paragraphs are also provided to use as models for your children. Steps in the procedure for teaching each grammar concept are provided in the Delivering section of each Teacher's Guide. There are suggestions in the Assessing section of the Teacher's Guide for various ways to assess your child's progress in writing.
Reading Comprehension Questions
1. My son hates to read. He can read, but doesn't seem to understand what he reads so he doesn't like it. He likes it when I read to him, then he can understand. He should be in 5th grade, but reads at a 3rd grade level.
I have a child who is 15 who does not read well. How can I help my child?
Start with the spelling element of The Writing Road to Reading program. This is where your child learns to read. Knowing the phonograms well and how they are used to write and spell words will facilitate better reading. Have your child read spelling words for spelling and for reading every day so that he builds automatic word recognition. This builds confidence in their reading ability as well. Have your child use the unfamiliar words in sentences and then read them. Teach the elements of the three basic types of writing, and as you read a book to your child, talk about the author's precise language, how the writing makes you feel, what insight you gain about the characters, and why you enjoy reading. This will help to develop a love of reading. Help your child with phrasing, paying attention to punctuation, and expressive reading. Teach your child to use the five mental actions. You can find definitions and the procedure for teaching the mental actions in the Delivering section of the Teacher's Guide. Using these five mental actions automatically improves reading comprehension.
2. Isn't the mentally summarizing like narration?
No, narration or retelling is different than mentally summarizing. Mentally summarizing means confirming a stated main idea or deriving an implied main idea using the stated information from the text and the information already learned (prior knowledge). As children are reading they are sorting information that is important to the main idea and that which is background information. Once children have finished reading, they use the essential information to identify the author's main idea. This is not retelling the story, but simply stating in a sentence what they think the author wanted them to learn or know after reading. Retelling a story or narration includes using not only the "need to know" information (essential to the main idea), but also additional information (elaborations and extra details) to tell a story in their own words.
Online Course Questions
1. Would you explain the upcoming online course and the cost? What if you already own the materials?
The Home Educator Online course will teach parents how to introduce the phonograms with handwriting. It will also teach parents how to practice the phonograms orally and in writing, and introduce new spelling words. Parents will learn how to use the Teacher's Guide and other materials. They will also be taught how to teach writing and reading concepts to their children.
There will be 10 one-hour online lessons. The first lesson will be presented on Wednesday, August 18, at 1:00 PM (Mountain Standard Time). Other dates for the rest of the sessions will be: September 1, 8, and 22, October 6 and 13, November 3 and 17, and December 1 and 8. All lessons will be recorded so that if a part is missed, it can be viewed again for as many times as necessary during a specified viewing period (to be determined). The registration cost is $39.95 plus the cost of materials ($126.95) and shipping and handling. The total cost should be no more than $175.00. If you already own materials, you can use those materials and just pay the registration fee. Be sure to check the list of materials required for the online course. You can register for this online course by logging on to <www.spalding.org/parents> and get a list of the required materials.
2. Do you offer Professional Development credit hours for your teacher online course?
We can issue a Certificate of Continuing Education Credit for taking our courses.
If you will send us your name and address, we will be happy to send that to you. Just send your request to our website address at <email@example.com>.
1. What kind of support is offered for parents who might need help throughout their teaching career? Is there anyone to call or email for help? Post your questions on the Forum, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (623) 434-1204. Spalding Certified Instructors on staff answer all questions.