Let’s face it. We just have not figured out how to “fix” every kid. The research confirms this sad state of affairs. So few of our students who fall behind are ever able to “catch up” to grade level. Especially in reading. Only one in six students reading two or more grade levels behind by sixth grade ever catches up to reading at grade level.
Yes, we teachers aren’t the only ones to blame. However, we do have the tools to fix reading deficits for most of our older children, teenagers, and adults. Yes, reading is a complicated process, but it’s not rocket science. So why aren’t we doing a better job of reading remediation?
Much of what we do is based upon what we think we can do.
I teach a seventh grade reading intervention class. My principal calls it ELA Support; however, we all know why students are in this class: they just don’t read or read well. Our district continues to promote a myriad of tracked classes and pull-out programs. At our site we have eight different ELA classes with fancy labels. Needless to say, we have not exactly bought in to the Response to Intervention model. Believe me, I’ve tried, but our district and site have not yet adopted my Reading Manifesto.
Last night at Back to School Night, a parent who has a child in this class, lingered after my presentation to express concerns about his child.
Having completed an initial round of diagnostic assessments just to determine whether or not my students should remain in this remedial class, I assured the parent that I knew some of his child’s reading issues and that we would make significant progress this year.
The parent checked my response with his previous experience.
“In fifth grade, his teacher told me that he would never be able to read well. He was tested for special education and qualified for the program. The resource teacher confirmed his fifth grade teacher’s diagnosis and tagged him with auditory and visual processing disorders. The resource teacher said that we should concentrate on developing ‘reading survival skills.’”
As my blood began to boil, I assured the parent that we were not going to band-aid his child. We would go in for surgery and fix the reading issues. I told him I believe in student-centered, assessment-based instruction and that I would individualize instruction for his son. The parent was admittedly skeptical but held onto a glimmer of hope.
He responded, “Well, we’ve tried for so many years. My son just does not believe he will ever be ‘normal’ and read like his peers. His self-concept is at an all-time low, especially after two years of using reading materials that make him feel like an idiot. But, to be fair, he is reading at that level. It’s just that he’s big for his age. I guess he and I just have to be realistic.”
So to summarize: The child, parent, and teachers all have set limits as to what they think the child can do. The child’s educational experience has set those expectations in stone.
I refuse to buy-in to this thinking. I want to make a difference for this student. I want to be an informed realist. It’s going to take work, and it’s going to take the right materials to make it work.
One of the parent’s comments stood out to me: “His self-concept is at an all-time low, especially after two years of using reading materials that make him feel like an idiot.”
That we can fix. According to my initial assessments, this child has severe decoding issues. I’ve developed a series of 44 decodable texts, along with my illustrator, David Rickert. These take home books are decidedly not juvenile. Think the old “Archie and Friends” comic books. Stories about teenagers. Stories with humor. Stories with some depth. But much more…
Here’s a description of these take home books. If you teach non-primary remedial reading, you’ve got to get these 44 economical blackline master take home books for your students. For less than a buck a book, you can provide targeted practice in what your students need without treating them like “idiots.”
The 44 Sam and Friends Take Home Phonics Books have been designed to supplement a systematic and explicit phonics program for remedial readers. Each illustrated eight-page book focuses on one sound with the most common sound-spelling patterns and two high-utility sight words. The sound-spellings are the same as those used in the Open Court reading program. Pennington Publishing’s remedial reading curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies uses the same research-based instructional scope and sequence.
The books are illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons are designed to be appreciated by older remedial readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.
Additionally, each take home book includes five SCRIP comprehension questions (Summary, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, Predict) to promote internal monitoring of text. The comprehension questions are ideal for teacher and/or parent guided reading instruction, readers’ workshop, literacy centers, and literature circles.
Plus, each take home book includes a 30 second word fluency practice on the focus sound-spellings and sight words with a systematic review of previously introduced sound-spellings and sight words.
Teachers are licensed to copy and distribute all 44 of these economical blackline master take home books for their own students. Each book has eight pages in 5.5 x 8.5 inch booklet form. Books are formatted to be copied back to back on two separate 8.5 x 11 pages for easy copying and collation. Just one fold creates the take home books. No stapling is needed.
Design and Instructional Components
* The Sam and Friends Take Home Phonics Books have been organized into five collections:
Collection A: Short Vowels and Consonants Books 1-8
Collection B: Consonant Blends and Digraphs (Part 1) Books 9-16
Collection C: Consonant Blends and Digraphs (Part 2) Books 17-24
Collection D: Long Vowels and Silent Final e Books 25-34
Collection E: r-controlled Vowels and Diphthongs Books 35-44
* The books are designed with highly decodable text to help readers learn, practice, and develop reliance upon the alphabetic code. Decodable means that a high percentage of words are phonetically regular. Perfect for Tier I and Tier II RtI, special education, ELD and SDAIE classes, and traditional reading intervention classes.
* The SCRIP comprehension strategies (Summary, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, Predict) are embedded within the text pages, not placed at the end of the book.
* The stories use non-predictable, non-repetitious, and non-patterned language to minimize over-reliance upon context clues and knowledge of text structure. The texts limit idiomatic expressions (ideal for English-language learners). Students will learn the alphabetic code with these books.
* The back page of each book introduces the focus sound-spellings and sight words and also includes a 30 second word fluency practice with phonics and sight words review.
* The books do not require a separate teacher’s guide. All instructional activities are included in the books themselves.
* These books are fun to read and fun to teach!
But wait… There’s more! As seen on T.V.
Your purchase of the Sam and Friends Take Home Phonics Books also includes these resources:
* Quick and Simple Instructions
* Color Animal Sound-Spelling Cards designed for your display projector to help your students master each of the sound-spelling patterns. Teachers are also licensed to copy on cardstock, cut, and laminate the cards for each of their students. The animal names of the Animal Sound-Spelling Cards clearly connect to each of the English phonemes (speech sounds) unlike those of other reading programs. The cards feature animal photographs, not illustrations, and are color coded according to their sound-spellings: consonants (black cards), short vowels (green cards), long vowels (red cards), and vowel teams (violet cards). The link also includes Consonant Blend Cards.
* Link to the Names, Sounds, and Spelling Rap to help students master the instructional components of the Animal Sound-Spelling Cards. Help your students develop automaticity in the sound-spellings. Turn it up! Your students will love to chant along.
* Link to the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies Bookmarks to download and print. The author’s Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program includes both comprehension and fluency expository articles at Grades 3-7th reading levels.
The author of the Sam and Friends Take Home Phonics Books, Mark Pennington, is an M.A. Reading Specialist. Mark has taught reading intervention classes at the elementary, middle school, high school, and community college level. He is also the author of the flexible and comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program. The Sam and Friends Take Home Phonics Books help students practice each of the sounds, sound-spellings, and site words as they are introduced in this program. The talented illustrator, David Rickert, teaches high school English and has many fine products available here at Pennington Publishing.