PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 34 ~ February 2009
by Dolores G. Hiskes


NEW BEGINNINGS

We've recently had a *new beginning* with a presidential election, and now it's almost time for another new beginning with Spring just around the corner. Many of us are ready to move on from a dark and brutal winter to an always-welcome, warm and lovely springtime. I know I certainly am!

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UPCOMING WORKSHOP

HEARTWARMING STORIES

TEACHING TIP

THE DICTIONARY GAME

INFORMATION AGE

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UPCOMING WORKSHOP
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I will be presenting a workshop at the upcoming IRA (Inter-
national Reading Association) conference in Phoenix on
February 23rd, together with a few other speakers from the
IRA Phonics SIG (Special Interest Group).

The Phonics SIG group will present on Monday February 23,
from 2:30 to 4:45 p.m.

The title of my own 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, which
will also be available as a conference handout.

For more information on the Phonics SIG presentations and
speakers at this conference, do the following:

Key in *www.reading.org*
Click *IRA Annual Convention*
Click *Annual Convention West*
Click *Program* (on the right side)
Click *Browse The Complete Program Online*
Key in *Hiskes*

You will then see the names of everyone presenting in the
Phonics SIG, as well as the titles of their presentations.

I love giving workshops, and hope to see some of you there!

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HEARTWARMING STORIES
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1--Don Potter wrote that his second-grade student who learned
to read with Phonics Pathways last year went from being totally
illiterate at the first of second grade to highly literate at the end --
he is now at the top of his class in reading! Don wrote:

He is reading C.S.Lewis' Prince Caspian in the Narnia
Chronicles, and oh! How he loves reading about Narnia!
He was totally disabled thanks to guided-reading and
massive sight-word memorization, but faithful Dewey
the Bookworm and your phonics restore him to his true
intellectual birthrate.

2--A new dyslexia teacher wrote that she needed something extra
that would be hands-on and more fun than just the daily
lessons for her students, and bought the Dorbooks' games
to try. She said her students absolutely love them -- they say
*these are great!*

Stories like this keep me going--I love to hear them, one and all!

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TEACHING TIP
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Recently I received a call from a perplexed Orton tutor who was
also using Phonics Pathways, whose student knew all the letter
sounds and could read two-letter blends accurately but was
unable to read a multisyllable word by syllables, breaking it
into *chunks* in order to read it accurately.

She could read each chunk if presented separately, but when
she came to reading the word itself she reverted to reading it
as a whole, and frequently miscuing.

The solution to this all-too-common problem: Make up
The Train Game's blank cars (page 254), write the word by
syllables on the cars (such as *con* *strain**ing*) and then
have the student play The Train Game as directed on page 18.

Manipulatives like this can really help break through this
roadblock, because the student initiates and completely controls
the timing of the blending. That's the critical part that makes
all the difference!

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THE DICTIONARY GAME
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Have you ever opened a dictionary to look up a word, only
to find yourself distracted by another word on the page? One
definition leads to another, and before you know it you are
leaping from one page to another, lost in a wonder of words.

Here is a game that everyone can play involving words:

Four to eight people can play. Each person takes a turn searching
the dictionary for a word they don't think anyone would know.
They tell everyone what the word is, and write down the definition
on a piece of paper they keep temporarily hidden.

Everyone else writes on a piece of paper what they think the word
means, and gives it to the person who named the word. Then
that person reads all the definitions out loud, including the correct
definition, and everyone votes on what they think the correct answer
is.

Everyone who votes for the correct definition gets a point, each
person whose definition receives a vote gets a point even if the
definition is wrong, and the person with the definitions gets a
point if nobody gets it right.

Usually one or more persons make up silly definitions, and one
or two guess the right definition or get close to it.

It's best to use a large, unabridged dictionary, but any dictionary
will do. Try it -- you'll like it! It's addicting!

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INFORMATION AGE
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It is estimated that a week's worth of the New York Times contains
more information than a person was likely to come across in a
lifetime in the 18th century.

If MySpace were a country, it would be the 5th largest in the
world (between Indonesia and Brazil).

One out or eight couples married last year met online.

Predictions are that by 2049 a $1000 computer will be available
that ill exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human
species.

Small wonder that we sometimes feel overwhelmed!

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Currently we are living in tough times, and all we can do is make
the best of it. We may not have come over on the same ship, but we
are all in the same boat.

Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of
yesterday and by borrowing in advance the trouble of tomorrow.
There is nothing we cannot live down, rise above, and overcome!

With that thought and those good wishes, I leave you for now.
Peace be with you!

Blessings, Dolores

Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2009

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