PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 33 ~ December 2008
by Dolores G. Hiskes


It's *that time of year* again -- and we have a free gift for you! Also: interesting information on spacing lessons, a pronunciation tip, and a profile of an inspiring fighter for literacy. Notes on upcoming workshop, and special Holiday thoughts.









Although many customers have said *Phonics Pathways almost
seems to teach itself,* from time to time parents and teachers
have requested more detailed information on exactly how to most
effectively use these materials.

This is especially true now that its companion book of reading
exercises, Reading Pathways, is here. How do these books fit
together? Do you have to finish one before beginning the other?

There is a new downloadable *Guide To Phonics Pathways
And Reading Pathways* available for downloading that spells
out exactly how to navigate, incorporate, and blend these two
books together for maximum reading efficiency.

This little nineteen-page book is chock-full of special field-tested
tips, tools, and techniques, and even has a new blackline master
in it you can copy and use over and over again. This *Short Sheet
of Vowels* will come in very handy indeed!

And best of all -- in the Spirit of the Season, it is free to you during
the month of December! It is my gift to you to thank you for your
patronage, and for carrying the torch of literacy so tirelessly and
effectively to students everywhere.

Take a peek at, click on *Free Downloads.*

Does *practice make perfect*? And *is timing everything*?

The November 19, 2008 issue of ScienceDaily outlines the results
of a fascinating study by two professors of psychology at UC San
Diego that has broad implications for education.

Coauthors Hal Pashler and John Wixted led a study comprised o
1,000 subjects participating in three sessions. In the first session
they were taught a number of obscure but true facts such as
Rudyard Kipling inventing snow golf. etc.

The second session was a review of the same facts. The time
between the sessions ranged from several minutes to several
months. Study time was the same for everyone in all the conditions.
After some further delay, up to about one year, subjects were then

Not surprisingly, when the interval between the second session
and the test increased memory got worse. But the interesting
finding was that increasing the time between study sessions
reduced the rate of forgetting! This reduction was very large,
sometimes increasing recall by 50%.

Further analysis suggests that if you want to remember information
over a lifetime, it's best to be re-exposed to it over a number of

The results imply that instruction that packs a lot of learning and
remembering factual information into a short period is likely to be
extremely inefficient.


Sometimes students, especially ELL, simply cannot pronounce
some English sounds because those sounds are not in their
native language. What to do?

As long as you emphasize the correct sounds, instead of
correcting them each time they say a word incorrectly (but to
the best of their ability) just repeat back, *That's right, the
word says _______* That way their ears are trained to hear
the correct pronunciation even though their tongues aren't
ready yet. Tell them *As long as YOU know what the word
means and I can understand you, it doesn't matter whether
you can say the sound exactly right just yet. We'll work on it
and some day you'll be able to do it.*

Having them write sounds or words you dictate under the
correct heading on their *Short Sheet of Vowels* will confirm
their knowledge of the correct sound as well.

If they cannot write yet, simply have them point to the correct
vowel shown on the top of the *Short Sheet of Vowels.*


John Corcoran is a very successful California businessman who
struggled to conceal his illiteracy for nearly five decades -- he
finally learned how to read at age 48, with intensive phonics!

He remembers when he was eight years old saying his prayers
at night, praying: *Please, God, tomorrow when it's my turn to
read please let me read.*

He writes, "I believe that illiteracy in America is a form of child
neglect and child abuse. The child is blamed and they carry the

Since then he has advocated tirelessly for literacy and is president
of a charitable foundation bearing his name. In his new book,
*The Bridge to Literacy,* he lays out his vision for eliminating
illiteracy in the USA.

Corcoran pleads for schools to use intensive phonics lessons,
and warns: *There's a five-alarm fire going on, and there are
only a hundred buckets of water. We've got to stop fanning the
flames of illiteracy with the 'gasoline' of faulty teaching practices
that started the fire in the first place.*

He calls for a *bucket brigade* of effective intensive phonics-
based reading instruction that is up to date and research-based.
*We already have the tools that can give us the means to teach
virtually every child to read. All we need is the commitment to
put that science into action.*

May the New Year be filled with many more *buckets* to you,
John -- we are right there with you, all the way, 100%!


I will be presenting a workshop on February 23rd at the Inter-
national Reading Association's conference in Phoenix on
February 23rd, sponsored by their Phonics SIG (Special Interest

The title of my presentation is *Phonics: What It Is, How To
Teach It, When To Begin,* and I will be listing fourteen strategies
for increasing fluency and improving comprehension.

I love giving these workshops and meeting like-minded people,
so if any of you are planning on going to this conference, be sure
to stop by the workhop and say hello!


Whether we celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, or any other religion,
truly this is a Season of Love. We become kinder, gentler, and
our thoughts turn to loftier ideals: peace and good will to all.
Although peace may sometimes seem elusive, it's something
we all yearn, hope, and pray for.

While looking at the beautiful Christmas decorations in San
Francisco recently, we came upon a homeless man with a dog
sleeping next to him, and a cat sleeping restfully on top of the
dog, and two rats sleeping peacefully on top of the cat.

I was filled with wonder, and asked him, *How did you train
them to do that?* He answered *With great patience.
Why can't we ALL just get along?*

Simple words . . . worlds of meaning!

May your Holiday be blessed with loving family and friends, and may the New Year be filled with hope and change for better times ahead for those of you who might be struggling.

I have so much to be thankful for, and I am grateful to all of you for your interest in literacy. Truly you are all a *thousand points of light* around the whole world this Holiday Season!

Blessings to All,

Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes, 2008

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