PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 62 ~ December 2013
by Dolores G. Hiskes

PPHONICS-TALK - The Dorbooks Newsletter

Volume 62

December 2013

Dolores G. Hiskes









A study in the journal Science found that after reading

literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious

nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring

empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence.

The researchers say the reason is that literary fiction

often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers

to be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.

(NYTimes 10-3-13)

Psychologists said the new study was especially powerful

because it suggested a direct effect — quantifiable by

measuring how many right and wrong answers people got

on the tests — from reading literature for just a few minutes!

“It’s a really important result,” said Nicholas Humphrey, an

evolutionary psychologist who has written extensively about

human intelligence, “It is astonishing that they would have

subjects read for just three to five minutes and get these

results!" He said he would have expected that reading

generally would make people more empathetic and under-

standing; but to separate off literary fiction, and to demonstrate

that it has different effects from the other forms of reading,

is quite remarkable.

The researchers also found that people who read literary fiction

scored better than those who read popular fiction. Literary

fiction readers also scored better than nonfiction readers —

and popular fiction readers made as many mistakes as people

who read nothing.

The results seem to imply that people could be primed for social

skills like empathy, just as watching a clip from a sad movie can

make one feel more emotional. More recently, in a field called

“theory of mind,” scientists have used emotional intelligence

perception tests -


to study, for example, children with autism.

The study’s authors and other academic psychologists said such

findings should be seriously considered by educators designing

curriculums, particularly the Common Core standards adopted

by most states, which assign students mostly nonfiction.




I recently received this letter from a teacher of autistic children:

*I'm using this program with a 13-year-old boy with autism. The
Edmark Reading Program was highly recommended to use with him.
He has been on this program since the 2nd grade. This is my first
year to have him and I was quite amazed that he didn't respond
successfully to all of the Level I words. (Level I has 150 words) It's
obvious that the program is not working with him. I started him
on the Phonics Pathways program along with the others. He is
getting it! It's so sweet and cute. When he says the sounds correctly,
the other students will clap for him. He's the only one that gets that
extra praise from peers.

*He does talk some, but not much. He likes to say things wrong for
fun; however, with Phonics Pathways he hasn't done that as much.
At first, he talked only with asking a question. All he would say
would be something in question form. That too has become so
much better. We've turned it around and asked him the question,
then he will give us the answer. He likes to repeat the same thing
over and over, a characteristic of autism.

*As a group, we were working on a pyramid. The students were
responding and reading it correctly, even my lowest ones. My autistic
student read one of the longer lines and the expression on his face
was priceless. So I decided we needed to write a dictated pyramid
on paper. I gave the first word and my student spelled it out loud.
I gave the second line and he could not hold it, he spelled it out
loud too. Everyone laughed. This teacher was thrilled!*




This letter is from a long-time teacher who currently has a class of
older non-readers:

*This is my 38th year to teach and I wish I had known about this
program earlier in my career. I've laminated the games and my
students are not only learning but also having fun. I have 7th and
8th graders. At first I was kind of worried about how some of my
8th grade boys would feel. They love it and will remind me it's time
to do phonics. For those students who can already read a little, it
has given them more confidence in sounding out unfamiliar words.
They are trying harder and asking for something to read.

*I've forgotten to tell you how much we are enjoying Dewey and his
cute little tidbits of information/advice! Everyday the students copy
one for their journal entry.*




It's that time of year again! Full of good cheer, timeless old songs

and carols, and gift-giving to loved ones. In this economy there is

also a certain amount of anxiety about gift-giving -- what can we

give to those we love that is unique and not very expensive?

Take heart, my dears! Help is on the way! Do what one teacher

did and have your student choose favorite proverbs from Phonics

Pathways and print them out, one under the other, on a sheet of

paper. Laminate the sheet, and cut it apart into individual little

bookmarks. Voila! A personalized and loving gift to cherish! One

Mom wrote to me saying she had kept her precious bookmark

for ten years and wouldn't part with it for anything.

Some old favorites:

*Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.*

*Kindness is the oil that takes the friction out of life.*

*The most beautiful trees in the world first began covered in dirt,

but they rose above it. Grow where you are planted!*

(And as for me? My best gifts are all the wonderful letters I get

from you, my dear and special friends! So keep 'em coming...)

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, with warm

and hearty wishes for a happy, safe, and healthy New Year!



Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2014


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