Decipher that Code & Read Part Two
Phonics: We'll review Two important Reading Programs
But first, a review of what is Phonics is appropriate at this point.
What exactly is phonics? Phonics s the method by which children learn the letters and the sounds associated with these letters at the same time“ Phonics is knowing that sounds and letters have a relationship — it's that simple, and that complex. It is the link between what we say and what we can read and write. "Children need very explicit instructions on how the letters on a page correspond to the spoken word," explains Margie Gillis, Ed.D., project director of reading research studies at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut. A child who has mastered phonics can connect the sounds he knows with letters, then put them together to make words. (And then he can put words together to read sentences, and so on.)
How is phonics taught? Systematically and sequentially. Teachers give children plenty of practice before moving on. Your child will read short, easy books, containing the particular letter sounds or words she's working on. "Children need frequent opportunities to read aloud with the teacher guiding and correcting them," says Lynn Gordon, Ph.D., assistant professor of reading and literacy at California State University, Northridge, and chair of the International Reading Association's Phonics Special Interest Group. And there should be lots of writing, to reinforce the sound-print connection. We’ll examine two popular programs and begin our discussion on Phonetic Rock “Hooked on Phonics” and No Child Left Behind”. Here after known as HOP & NCLB. HOP was probably the most hyped reading method. Millions were spent on the phrase “It Works for me”; a hip phrase giving reading “street cred.” . which is the closest the average American can get to Hip Hop or want to get close with all the Ebonics that goes with it. After a while the jargon is hard to loose. Having come up against HOP when PR was coming out as a cassette rather than a two record set., they were aggressive and controlling but handled business in a professional manner. HOP was expensive at the time thus separating the masses between those who can pay & those who couldn’t adding resentment to the mix. The system did work and I believe because it was Phonics oriented. The Method began using cassettes and flash cards. Words and sounds are practiced over ordinary musical cadences the program covered the reading experience up thru the 3rd grade. Now, The “Hooked On’ label now covers math, Spanish, is international and the product ideas seem endless. Irresponsibly over-marketed some say, led to its’ downfall & suit against it by the FTC during the 1st Bush presidency. Probably because they were about ready to come out with the NCLB act and didn’t want any unnecessary competition. The original company Gateway was sold and portions purchased by Kinder Care & Sylvan Method which is advertised on the HOP website. The newest version of HOP is put out by Smartville Prods., LLC, at a rather costly price with 7 different parts including 4 books, 3 CD’s and a Parents Guide.
NCLB was the brainchild of the Bush Administration under the guidance of the Secy of Education, Ron Paige, an African American. as is Mr. Weaver who is the present President of the NEA. .The National Education Association. Reauthorization of the program comes this year. In Emily Richmond’s article, “Schools Lack Solid Foundation” which appeared in the Las Vegas Sun, in May, 2007, states that .Mr.Weaver had complained several years ago and sent in some nine recommendations to the Secretary of Education who did not respond. However, since then the Present Secy, of Ed., Margaret Spellings has offered new accommodations for compliance in certain area, including testing special ed students. One of Weavers big concerns was that once the data is collected and the problem areas are identified, what then? What resources are available to help these schools help these students? At one point, Mr. Paige called the NEA a “terrorist” organization. NCLB, under the leadership of Ron Paige was a sweeping educational reform that took effect in 2002 the NEA began to find itself standing alone in opposition. Supporters of the NCLB see the law as reasonable and its’ goals achievable. In an article “How Clark County Schools Measure up” the information source, the Clark County School District presented a list of all of the schools in Clark County along with a chart to show how progress is to be measured. I’m only concerned with elementary reading so I’ll confine my discussion to the elementary level. (my example would not print)There are approximately 200 elementary schools in Clark County. The yearly progress is measured by a well-defined chart that appeared in the Review Journal of July 27, 2007. Unfortunately I don’t have the writers name. There are nine (9) categories. Categories range from adequate where most Elementary schools appear to be. to needs improvement year 5 The program is being reexamined and, hopefully, its progress & effect has been studied. Perhaps new reforms will improve its’ effectiveness. I would presume that 6 years would be enough time to adequately reach useful conclusions. based on 6 years worth of data. The No Child Left Behind Goals are: 1Phonemic awareness: the ability to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds - or phonemes in spoken words. 2 Phonics: the relationship between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language 3 Fluency: the capacity to read text accurately and quickly. 4 Vocabulary: the words students must know to communicate effectively and 5 Compre-
hension, the ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been read
Mr. Weaver believes that accountability is the key to success & with that comes a sound economic structure and tax base, adequate and equitable student funding and a school system with enough personnel, resources and facilities to meet the requirements of federal law. The NCLB process appears to begin with a description of specific problems to be identified and the solutions there to are to be outlined. All of this is to be measured annually with assumed progress to be guaranteed or else! But it’s obvious that the Gov’t wants children to be able to read with efficiency by the end of Grade 3. This is an awesome task.
The Phonetic Rock Educational System hereafter known as PRES, by Emily L. Woody, we believe, meets the criteria that has been establish for success. When one reviews the goals of the NCLB One realizes that Teachers are the only ones, really, who know what students need & when they need it. PRES was developed by a school teacher with over 20 plus years of experience. “All they need to do is listen” and they will learn. Only one CDRom is needed because there’re only 26 letters in the alphabet. One of the objections about HOP was that it was parent to child oriented. PR makes no claims that children can learn to read alone, however, she does believe that the primary understanding experience, for kids, begins with listening. The 1st objective is to listen. to the CD and, learning, by rote, the songs of the alphabet using the pronunciation rules that the teacher suggests. We will continue next time with a look at Phonetic Rock, in depth, as well as comment on various plans to improve elementary level skills.. More next time.
Decipher that Code & Read! part 3
A Master Teacher Proves Phonetic Rock is the way! It’s been nearly half a century that scholars have been arguing about the poor state of reading and math skills among USA youth. Perhaps there is too much emphasis on possessions and not enough about the possession of skills that sustain us all throughout our lives. We’ll confine our discussion to reading skills and leave the math to others. Perhaps the term ‘dumbing down’ is not as much of a cliché as we think. Or that there is a collusion between teachers and unions to call the shots. Like it or not, there are problems but they are much more complicated and involve almost everyone in some way, shape or form. Perhaps the true definition of dumbing down is given up; or tried & failed. Unfortunately while the population grows at an astounding rate, most folks find it difficult to put into words the frustration they feel about the situation. How to read has become an industry unto itself with everyone selling an idea, a concept, or a method. In 1962 a master teacher first started thinking about Reading and Phonics while employed by the Grolier Society demonstrating and selling teaching machines. Where, after 10 years she became their #1 salesperson for two straight years. She believed in their products and started thinking how such a program could benefit preschool or beginning readers. She began to work out a solution that was simple, inventive & colorful. A firm believer in learning the relationship between letters and sounds, she used this philosophy to develop her way to use the ‘schwa’ universal sound to help unlock the reading code known as ‘decoding”. After realizing the need for early reader to understand what they were learning. The Master Teacher’s remarkable phonics program could present a perfect foundation for reading. . The Master Teacher came had a plan Her first step was to decide the best way to reach students and that way is through music. Most youngsters know the theme songs to movies they enjoy and can sing them unabashedly. If they could only enjoy learning to ‘decipher the code, and read”, with music; then reading would be a breeze. Who knew that standards would relax even further and that reading would/could become a lost art!
In teaching the five big vowels, a clever way to introduce the Vowels visually was through the Vowel Phonic-Graph. This Phonic-Graph relates the vowel sounds in a geometric shapes adding new dimensions to vocabulary. She went back to school and honed her musical skills. She played piano, and read music so all she needed was a brush up. She went to work and wrote 32 songs of words and music; the 26 letters plus wrap up and review songs. She set up the scene for a narrator (a teacher) the kids (a group of school aged children), and the singers. Phonetic Rock was taking shape.
By 1972, She’d shopped the project to ministers, teachers, etc and had a sponsor who financed a two record set along with the workbooks for the 1st release of Phonetic Rock. When the 2 record set Phonetic Rock came out it caused somewhat of a stir. However, a product had already begun hogging the spotlight called Schoolhouse Rock. At this time, she copyrighted the project and began a group called the “Friends of Multi Learning” who helped her plan and execute the proof that the system does work! Results were phenomenal! Using Phonetic Rock in a Federally-funded two-year study project, children doubled/tripled their Reading Code Test scores after five (5) months instruction. The Friends were a group of retired teachers & reading specialists who trained high school students to go into the public schools and provide improved reading skills for new readers & remedial groups. She knew that Phonetic Rock could be used as a means of enlightening & motivating at risk, ghetto, and under-achieving students. Each letter of the alphabet is a song. Her wall of phonics began as an interaction between Mrs. woody, as the narrator, and the kids, her students. . She was ably assisted by the ‘kids’ the ‘duo’ the child star and the Motown band The group worked hard and the recording session went well. In 1989, she presented an updated version that became a 5 part reading system. Phonetic Rock reading system had a cassette, a lyric booklet, a manual with picture words; the Phonic-Graph & a vowel play strip. She marketed the package to schools and interested parents in California culminating a period from 1962 to 1989 when she passed away while promoting Phonetic Rock. The 5 part set charmingly whimsically set up, she was again out done outdone by “hooked on Phonics” As far as we know her product was the cleverest using custom-made music to emphasize the learning process. Not the overdone use of Public Domain songs. She wrote a different song for each letter of the alphabet along with review songs & a final wrap-up. The Narrator/teacher handles the description of each letter and calls upon the kids to emphasize certain portions that need repeating. The interaction between the music, the kids, the singers & the narrator put on quite an audio show. . The genius of the idea that makes it work so well is that the teacher/narrator introduces the children to the letter & asks what sounds they heard? The children answer & the T/N explains how to place your mouth; to make that sound. Students then listen to the letter song. After the song there is further reinforcement of the rule, when the N/T comes back and talks about any differences or exceptions that may occur. All the vocabulary presented in reinforced in the Activity Book. She began her journey shortly after retiring, with pension, from the Los Angeles Unified School district. She began by honing her musical skills which came with a generous knowledge of sight reading and piano playing. Often for her offspring who loved to hear her play Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”. She also once gave Dave Brubeck’s solos a serious try along with a case of coca cola which she says made her sick. I’m not so sure which and in what order! Emily L Woody, product of South Central Los Angeles graduated Jefferson High School in Watts, from UCLA in 1936 and received an M.A. from Loyola University in Los Angeles. She went straight from HS to UCLA, had a child, and taught until the 60’s. She was a master teacher and taught music and had a Credential to give IQ tests. I believe giving these tests made her realize that some children are at a disadvantage taking these tests the way they were set up and that if they had the reading abilities needed to succeed in life at an early age, their lives would improve 100% In Phonetic Rocks’ 1st identity, she assisted the record company on Phonetic Rock’s initial introduction and its’ components. And upon release sometime later as a 5 part set charmingly set up, she was to be outdone by “hooked on Phonics” As far as we know her product was the cleverest using custom-made music to emphasize the learning process. Not the overdone use of Public Domain songs. She wrote a different song for each letter of the alphabet along with review songs & a final wrap-up. The Narrator/teacher handles the description of each letter and calls upon the kids to emphasize certain portions that needs repeating. The interaction between the music, the kids, the singers & the narrator put on quite an audio show. At the time of her passing, it was noted by then Mayor Tom Bradley of her good works for the community as an educator & a Civil Rights Advocate. She was written up in the Los Angeles Times and her achievements were noted by the Hon. Julian C. Dixon in the “Congressional Record”. By 2003, MLEco had been promoting Phonetic Rock for almost 10 years. Her daughter & son-in-law have been providing quality additions. Her 5 part system has been extended to take advantage of many items that the system is jam packed with. . We have separated out all the aspects of the system, the CD, the Song Book, the work Book, the Crosswords, the Blocks, and the Book are all combined to assist in the learning-to-read process. Many older students benefit from the review and practical rules outlined that older students can relearn. benefit fro the review how to pronounce words, and put pictures together with words. Realizing that the narrator/teacher interaction with the kids is a major part of the learning process, we are readying a new CD that will include these welcome additions.Reading skills can be developed with practice, knowing the correct rules; knowing how to place your mouth to make the sounds and following the instructions of the narrator/teacher. These skills, according to Mrs. Woody, are what separate good readers from bad readers & therefore underachievers.