PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 37 ~ September 2009
by Dolores G. Hiskes


ADULT LITERACY

Every so often I receive a letter that is so inspirational that I am momentarily immobilized and stunned into inaction. This issue features such a letter.

I not only share it because of its beautiful and encouraging story, but because it is filled with teaching tips that some of you might find quite useful.

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ONE WOMAN'S STORY

A SPOT-ON PROVERB

UPCOMING WORKSHOP

IN CLOSING

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ONE WOMAN'S STORY

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Christy Samuelson, a tutor at LEAP (Literacy for Every Adult
Project) in Richmond, CA, wrote to me as follows:

"Three years ago, while working at LEAP, I met Michelle. She
was 23 years old and had never learned to read. She had faithfully
attended Richmond High School every day in hopes of learning
to read, and finally graduated.

"She is very good at math, has a moral compass that is always
"spot on", and is very perceptive and intuitive. She is a survivor
of a very traumatic inner-city childhood and probably suffered
from post-traumatic stress and A.D.D. She was not recognized
as being learning disabled until age 12, because she was so
well-behaved in school. In fact, she was told by her Special Ed
teacher (who, apparently, was a PhD), that she would never
learn to read. It took several years for Michelle to decide that
she would not accept that fate.

"I started meeting with Michelle twice a week. When we first met,
she could not even identify the letters of the alphabet. We spent
the first several months forming upper and lowercase letters out
of clay. Once she had mastered this, we started your book.

"Using Phonics Pathways only, we covered just a few pages each
session, reviewing constantly, talking about sounds and language,
listening to words. Michelle studied every night—for hours.

"I quickly saw how difficult sounds were for her. Distinguishing the
difference between short vowel sounds was extremely difficult, as
were consonant blends, but we turned it into a game. We had so
many laughs, all the time. Also, because she was an adult, we had
tons of common references—t.v. shows, popular songs, sayings,
slang. We really had so much fun!

"We did recordings, she wrote her words every night, we created
personalized sentences out of the vocabulary words. I bought her
a Franklin's Children's Talking Dictionary, which she carried with
her everywhere. I taught her to knit (which helped her handwriting),
then she taught everyone else (which helped her self-esteem).

"The biggest thing though was just getting her over the initial hurdle
about sounds and phonics. Everyone regarded her as being
"unteachable" prior to this. Now her family and others can help her.
People want to help her now!

"It was absolutely thrilling for me to watch her steady progress. It
took us two years to finish that book, but Michelle knows it
backward and forward.

"This Fall, she enrolled at Contra Costa College in the disabled
students program. She is taking spelling, everyday math and
African dance. She is on Cloud Nine, in control of her life, making
new friends and planning her future. I am so proud of her!

"So I wanted to thank you for your wonderful book. It turned me
into an expert reading teacher and it gave Michelle a second chance
at life."

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A SPOT-ON PROVERB

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"Life isn't about avoiding the storms,
it's about dancing in the rain!"

(I received this from a friend about the same time I received the
letter about Michelle, and it seemed to summarize her attitude
perfectly. I taped it to my computer for inspiration!)

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UPCOMING FEBRUARY 2010 WORKSHOP

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(Well ok, it's not until February 2010, but sometimes we need to
plan a good deal in advance. Thus this notice now.)

I will be giving a full half-day pre-conference workshop for
the CARS (California Association of Resource Specialists)
Conference at the Town & Country Resort & Convention
Center in San Diego on Thursday, February 18, 2010 from 1 to 4pm.

The first half of this presentation will be on teaching reading
in general, and the second half will be dedicated to teaching
specific reading lessons, using Phonics Pathways as a text.

Hope to see some of you there!

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IN CLOSING

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In my last newsletter I mentioned receiving a letter about a
three-year old reading fluently using Phonics Pathways, and
another about a mentally-retarded 18 year old who had almost
finished the book. Someone else wrote saying it was the only
thing that helped her stroke-afflicted mother learn how to speak
again.

It's inexpensive, it's very easy to use, and it works for everyone.
What's not to like?

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Where did summer go, anyway? And here we are in the middle of September. Very soon that will be gone as well. Not too long after that the Holiday Season will once again be thundering upon us. I can certainly vouch for the fact that the older we get, the faster time flies.

(I wonder what physicist Steven Hawking would say about that? Perhaps I've made a new discovery in physics. Hah!)

Until next time, warm blessings and stay safe,
Dolores



Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2009

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