PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 27 - July 4, 2007
by Dolores G. Hiskes

FOURTH OF JULY SPECIAL! We have all kinds of bang-up teaching tips and a number of sparkling new free downloads to tell you about, so without further adieu, let us share some of these goodies with you right now:


There are so many great teaching tips that have poured in recently, it seemed best to list some of them randomly for your teaching enrichment and pleasure:


1--Make a master sheet of paper with the five vowels in large
letters on top of the page, going horizontally across the page.
Dictate a sound (or blend, or word) and have students write
the letter (or blend, or word) in the proper column under the
correct vowel. You'll soon see which vowels need extra practice!

2--When teaching spelling, don't forget to go beyond just
dictating words -- dictate phrases and sentences as well!
It's more difficult for students to spell a word out of context
from a word-family list, but a truer test of how well they know
that particular spelling rule.

3--Choose one student to write your dictated sentence on
the chalkboard. Have the others make sure everything is
in perfect order -- all comments welcome whether spelling,
punctuation, handwriting, capitalization, or appearance.

4--*The Spell, Read, and Erase Game* is played by one
student with the class as referee. Say they have learned
the short vowel *A* words. Write a whole list of words
on the whiteboard containing that particular sound. Call
on one student and ask him/her to spell, for example,
*jam* out loud, and then ask the class to spell it in
unison. Then have the student find it on the whiteboard
and erase it. Next student up!

5--*Short Vowel vs. Long Vowel* (students must be
able to write). Divide class into two teams. Two students
come up to the whiteboard. If teacher says *lam* students
should write *lame,* or if teacher says *tape* students
should write *tap.* The fastest student wins that round,
and throws the die. The team with the highest score wins.

6--*You're On The Air!* Use a microphone. One student at
a time reads out loud and the others follow with their
finger sliding on the text, teacher then passes the
microphone to another student to continue reading. All
students must pay attention, because nobody knows
who the teacher will choose next!

7--From Taiwan: *My students love to play the reading
game. The class is divided into two teams. Two students
stand with their back to the chalkboard while I write a
word. When I say 'go' they turn around, and the first
one to read the word gets to throw the die. Highest
score wins. My students really love it, especially with
multisyllable words -- after only 6 months they were
reading such words as discipline, horrendous, obscure,
conversation, protective, etc.*


1--Present the lessons in Dewey's voice. *After I created a
Dewey voice for lessons it didn't take long before my son
began having full-length conversations with Dewey, and now
he even asks 'Mom, can we have a Dewey lesson?'*

2--Use a game after the lesson as a reward. *After we
finish this lesson, we can play such-and-such...* (Blendit!
is a bingo game and WordWorks is a card game which are
fun to play, and also back up the skill you are working on.)

3--If your student's eyes glaze over at the thought of
reading a whole page of word lists or sentences, transfer
the information on the page into a different, smaller form:
make sentence strips and put them in a *reading box* to
draw from, or simply make smaller booklets with just a
few sentences on a folded-over page, which they can
illustrate if desired.

4--Invisible spelling! Write words with lemon juice and a
Q-tip, let dry, and they become invisible. Later on when
they are completely dry iron them with a hot iron, and
voila! The words magically appear in dark brown and
your little scholar can read them!

5--*Disappearing Words* -- Have a selection of the words
(sounds, blends) you are working on written on individual
cards, and spread out on the table face up. Read one out
loud but don't let them see you looking at it, and then have
them find the card and turn it face down.


1--Do try some of the the eye exercises listed in back of
Phonics Pathways, pages 246 and 247. They have helped
many students, and can really make a huge difference!

2--Use The Train Game for intensive left-to-right eye
tracking exercises. One reading specialist felt it actually
rewired his students' brain, enabling him to read from
left to right for the very first time.

3--Reading Pathways will definitely help with reversals.
Several specialists always begins their tutoring session
by having their students do a *warm-up* with one of the
pyramid exercises before beginning the lesson itself.

4--Play the *Memory Box* game (directions on page
xvii of Phonics Pathways). It's better than the card
game Memory because the varying objects make it
multisensory, and it's fun for the kids to gather all the
items together as well. It helps develop their memory
for sequential information, a great aid when writing
from dictation or just recalling any kind of information
correctly and sequentially. It definitely trains the brain!


1--The director of Kids Read especially likes something
called *WhisperPhone,* which is a self-amplification
device using a headset and speaker phone when reading
out loud. She feels the ability of her ELL students to
replicate the sounds is much quicker and sharper. More
information can be found at

2--One alternative school teacher began working with a
first-grader who does not even speak English yet, and who
left public school because of excess teasing and crying.
Her family just moved here four months ago from Japan.
She decided to use Phonics Pathways as a bridge for
communication with a real apple, stuffed octopus, and
vivid cutouts for the other three. That and the Short
Vowel Shuffle broke the ice and brought the little girl
out of her shell and beginning to read!

3--Make sure they understand what they are reading.
When beginning to read very short sentences write
some *do-able* sentences down and tell them they
not only have to read it out loud, but then do what
it says! Suggestions: *Jog a bit,* *Sip a cup,* *Hit
a hat,* etc. (Have items handy, of course!)

4--Emphasize proper mouth formations for the
short-vowel sounds -- the clearest one is a smile
for the short E. If they form their mouth the same
way, they are then able to get the correct sound.

5--Still have trouble with pronunciation? Some
students may have a speech impediment which
prevents them from saying the sound as clearly
as they should. If they say the word incorrectly
(but to the best of their ability) repeat *That's
right, the word says ______.* That way their ear
is trained to hear the correct pronunciation even
though their tongue cannot say it yet. Tell them
*As long as you know what the word means, and
as long as I can understand you, it doesn't matter
whether you can say the sound exactly right yet
or not. We'll keep working on it, and some day
you'll be able to do it.*


There is a whole new section on the Dorbooks website
called *Free Downloads.* So far there is a downloadable
brochure, a Dewey bookworm for those of you having
older editions of the book who may not have a Dewey,
and a new At-A-Glance visual graphic of Phonics Pathways
and Reading Pathways, showing unique features and
highlights of each one, as well as how they complement
and enhance one another.

Coming soon is a Student Achievement Chart for those
of you not having the 9th edition of Phonics Pathways.
This simple at-a-glance record-keeping chart has proven
to be invaluable to teachers and parents alike.

And best of all . . . coming soon . . . are Certificates of
Achievement! There are five different certificates for
various reading levels in Phonics Pathways, beginning
with a *Happy Explorer* certificate for students who
have learned the short-vowel sounds, and ending with
a *Reading Wizard* certificate for students who have
finished the book.

These certificates have been completed and are now at
my website manager's, who will put them up as soon as
she can. I'm sure they will be a great motivator for
students moving along through the book -- watch for them!


Several thousand years ago a famous educator published
his teaching philosophy in *Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria,*
published around 95 A.D. Here is an excerpt:

*The teacher should be strict but not severe, genial but
not familiar. He must control his anger, making continuous
but not extravagant demands on his class, and probe with
questions those who site in silence in the hope of escaping
his eye.*

Regarding length of lessons: *Vessels with narrow mouths
will not receive liquids if too much is poured into them*

Timeless advice!

That's it for this newsletter. We hope you have enjoyed it, and will feel free to share it with others who might be interested.

Next time we will begin a two-part series on dyslexia.

Enjoy your Fourth of July! It's a hot day here in California, and we look forward to a cooler evening and enjoying a colorful, breathtaking fireworks display.

Cheers to all,

Copyright 2007 Dolores G. Hiskes

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