PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 39 ~ December 2009
by Dolores G. Hiskes


You asked for it.

We listened.

And here it is . .
.

A SOUND CD!

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NEW PRODUCT UNLEASHED!

STRENGTHENING BRAIN *HIGHWAYS*

MORE ON *THE DISAPPEARING VOWELS*

WORKSHOP UPDATE

SEASON'S THOUGHTS

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NEW PRODUCT UNLEASHED!

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*Speaking Pathways* is a lively and engaging 35 minute CD of all the sounds and spelling patterns in *Phonics Pathways,* presented in the same order. It is divided into two parts: (1) Letters and Sounds, and (2) Spelling Rules and Patterns.

An eight-page foldout of all the sounds & rules is also included, so that students can read and hear the sounds at the same time. This provides an extra dimension to enhance and accelerate learning, and is especially helpful to second-language learners!

We are excited about this new Dorbooks offering, and feel it will be a huge help to teachers and parents who may not have had phonics or know all the spelling rules themselves. It will be a great adjunct to school basal reading programs.

It will also be a perfect companion to tutors and home schooling families who already use Phonics Pathways and Reading Pathways, and will help make the books come alive.

...And as a matter of fact, it will be a perfect companion to
ANY phonics reading program on the market today!

Prepublication orders for *Speaking Pathways* are now
being accepted for the Holiday discounted price of $12.95.
After January 1, 2010 the price will be $14.95. Orders will
be processed immediately and fulfilled as soon as the CDs
are in the warehouse, which will be in about two weeks.

Cherry Neil, a MA/TESOL teacher commented, *Speaking
Pathways is clearly enunciated, and the sound is excellent.
It adds a whole new dimension to teaching reading!*

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STRENGTHENING BRAIN *HIGHWAYS*

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More and more studies reveal that correct, intensive reading
programs can produce measurable changes in the structure
of a child's brain, according to an article in the journal
*Neuron.*

The study found that these programs improved the integrity
of fibers that carry information from one part of the brain to
another. *That helped areas of the brain to work together,*
says Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain
Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Just says coordination is important because reading involves
a lot of different parts of the brain. Some parts recognize
letters, others apply knowledge about vocabulary and syntax,
and still other decide what it all means. The brain relies on
high speed *highways* that carry information back and forth.

Just and colleague Timothy Keller wondered whether that
might be part of the problem for a lot of children struggling
to read.

They used a special type of MRI to look at the brains of
several dozen children from 8 to 12 years old. They found
that the children with poor reading skills had white matter
with *lower structural quality* than children who were
good readers.

Encouraging note: When the formerly-poor readers had
a second scan after 100 hours of intensive remedial
instruction, the integrity of the white matter improved in
direct correlation with that individual's improvement in
his reading ability.

This finding adds to the evidence that learning involved
more than just gray matter (the brain tissues that
process and store information). White matter is also
critical for learning.

Doug Fields, a researcher from the NIH, says *By analogy
we were looking at a transistor, and now we're looking
at the whole network.* --Jon Hamilton, NPR, 12-9-09

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MORE ON *THE DISAPPEARING VOWELS*

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Here is some interesting feedback from my last newsletter,
where I discussed the *Disappearing Vowels* and how
words like *caught* and *cot* will sound as different as
their spellings if you are a New Yorker, but sound the same
if you grew up in California:

Arthur Melanson wrote, *I recall our school guidance counselor
saying in 1970 'Cot and caught sound the same to me.' He had
been administering the Wepman Test of Auditory Discrimination
and found the test was supposed to give a different response
for the two word pairs. The counselor was raised in an Italian
speaking household in East Boston, and I grew up 100 miles
west in Westfield, MA.

*I said 'In my half of the state we rhyme cot with hot (h-ah-t).
In eastern Massachusetts people pronounce the word h-aw-t
as in haughty and naughty.'

*It seems that people in eastern Massachusetts have something
in common with Californians."

And Mike Audet, Director of the National Right to Read in
Vermont, wrote, *I always look forward to your newsletters
and find them interesting and helpful. This current one has
me stumped. I grew up in Vermont and I've always pronounced
aw, au, and short vowel /o/ the same. What am I missing here?*

I suggested that for the short sound of /o/ he try making the
sound most of us make when the doctor asks us to open our
mouths wide and say*aaaaahhhhhhh* so he can examine our
poor sore throats.

He wrote that it helped a lot, and so I pass this tip along to you!

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WORKSHOP UPDATE

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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 from 1 to 4.

I will also have an author's table on Friday February 19th,
and the *Speaking Pathways* CD will be there to listen to.
It's a good way to *try before buy!*

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SEASON'S THOUGHTS

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Now the gentle, beautiful Christmas Season is once again upon
us. No matter what religion we may be, it's a good time to look
beyond the tinsel and cacophony and reflect on the spirit of love
and peace that symbolizes this special Season. It's a good time
to touch base with family, friends, and long-lost acquaintances.
(And when you smile, even Scrooge may smile back!)

The stock market may rise and fall, the economy may go boom
or bust, but love and good will are commodities in which there
is never any slump.

Peace, love, and good will to all of you and the very best in the
coming New Year to you and yours, and to our poor old world.

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and
the dream shall never die!" -- Tennyson

Warmly, Dolores

Dolores G. Hiskes, President
"Phonics Pathways" - Six 1st-place awards-"Best Phonics Program in The Country"


Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2009- 2010

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