PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 64 ~ June 2014
by Dolores G. Hiskes


PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
by Dolores G. Hiskes
Volume 64 - June 2014

This newsletter will be an odd mix of a variety of subjects,
which at first glance may seem to be unrelated, but are.
*All you gotta do is connect the dots!*

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THE COMPREHENSION CONNECTION

COMPREHENSION TRAINING: GOOD OR BAD?

A MOTHERS' DAY SURPRISE!

EYE TRAINING FOR EYE TRACKING

EXCITING NEW BRAIN RESEARCH

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THE COMPREHENSION CONNECTION

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Should com-
prehension be taught before or after phonics? Or
should they be taught together? Or? read on . . .

Our grandson went to an excellent school, but when he
was in first grade he guessed wildly at everything he read.
He was taught to infer, predict, and guess at the words
and meaning while still struggling to read the material
accurately. If he guessed the meaning to be anywhere
similar to the meaning in the story, he was praised for a
correct answer.

I began working with him, and we were working on the *I*
and *A* lesson on page 50 of Phonics Pathways. Before
he read "I hug Mom" I go inspired. I told him the next
sentence was like a game, and he had to DO what it said.

He looked at me uncertainly, read the sentence, and then
slowly looked up at me with a beautiful look of stunned
comprehension and a wide smile that I'll never forget.
He hopped up, went over to his Mom, and gave her a great
big bear hug, and then came back and hugged me too.

It was the first time that he realized he could get meaning
OUT of what he was reading, as opposed to putting meaning
INTO what he was reading. From that point on he had no
more problems with comprehension -- he was *reading
for meaning,* as opposed to *meaning to read*.

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COMPREHENSION TRAINING: GOOD OR BAD?

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Comprehension training can indeed be valid. But the big
danger is that it is frequently brought to play much too
early in the game.

We don't learn ice-skating dance routines until we first
learn how to ice skate well. In my experience we should
not begin teaching comprehension (along with reasoning,
visualizing, inferring, predicting, etc.) until those primary
skills have jelled and are at an automatic level.

I've watched too many tutoring sessions in schools with
reading specialists who begin asking complex questions
about the text while the student is still struggling to read
it accurately, The student just guesses the best he/she can,
and if it's anywhere similar to the meaning needed they
are praised for a correct answer.

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A MOTHERS' DAY SURPRISE!

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*Dolores, I just had to share with you the most wonderful
Mother's Day gift I ever had. Jimmy went to Walmart with
me to shop and went running to the cards. He usually
looks for a colorful card with child-like pictures with no
idea of what the card says. He found what he was looking
for and told the lady not to let me see this card.

*He gave me the card on Mothers' Day and said:
'Mom you know I have dyslexia and how hard reading has
been for me. You know how hard we have worked this year.
Okay, now open your card:

'MY MOM
This is a story about a kid with a Mom who believes
in him and has taught him about important stuff,
like chasing his dreams and trusting his heart.
It's a success story and it was written by you.
Happy Mothers' Day with love, from your son.'

*It was all I could do to read through this card. I had no idea
the impact he had made on his own self! We love Dewey's words
of advice as well. Every day Dewey is there, encouraging us, or
just breaking the tension. It's strange how a paper worm can
become such a friend to someone.*

Way to go, Jimmie--keep up the good work. You're a reader now!

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EYE TRAINING FOR EYE TRACKING

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Indeed, the young boy mentioned above had been diagnosed
with dyslexia. But was it inborn or induced by incorrect reading
methods? In the earliest stages of reading if we are not trained
to read from left to right by building letters into syllables, words,
and sentences it often results in irregular eye movements and
letter or word reversals. This results in slow and/or inaccurate
reading which impacts comprehension. Eye-tracking skills
must be well established BEFORE real learning can take place.

The concept of eye training is not new or unique to America.
It has been part of Chinese and Tibetan medicine for many
thousands of years. It has been my experience that *dyslexic*
students have benefitted greatly from vision/motor training
such as the teaching method of Phonics Pathways.
One mother wrote:

*My son is nine and this is our second year of home-
schooling. The activities in back of the book to help
hand and eye coordination are three same exercises
we did for Perceptual Vision Dysfunction Therapy
with a specialist. What a difference it made! My son
loves it so much that it is one subject I get 'Great Mom,
I love doing Phonics Pathways!'

*Reading Pathways also has been a tremendous boost
in our family to reinforce blending and eye tracking.
My five-year-old read the very first pyramid story
last week and it really made her day!*

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EXCITING NEW BRAIN RESEARCH

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On a recent *News Hour* a savvy teacher said that students
don't fail in high school, they fail in second grade because
they have not been taught explicit phonics and are sub-
sequently just carried along through school. Furthermore,
most beginning readers are only 50% decodable. These
students are then labeled *learning-disabled* or *dyslexic*
which is frequently confirmed with brain imaging.

Results? Texas' statewide educational achievement test
results are in, for example: Sixty-two percent of ninth
graders passed the English test. What did they do to pass
the test? They only had to get 37% of the answers right.
Only thirty seven percent!

Is there no hope? There most definitely, certainly, positively
IS! Newer exciting brain imaging research reveals that the
neuro-biological basis of reading disability actually changes
to normal as students become skilled readers after being
taught direct, systematic phonics. (Dr. Guinevere Eden,
Georgetown University, Nature Neuroscience May 2003)

It's never too late to learn how to read. DYSLEXIA BEGONE!

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It's been nice chatting with you. I have much more info
to share, and hope to do so very soon. It feels good to be
*back in the saddle* again after The Big Move to Marin.
*Happy trails to you* until we meet again!

My very warmest regards,
Dolores

Copyright 2014 Dolores G. Hiskes
May be reprinted in entirety with reference to author

Copyright Dolores G. Hiskes 2014

 

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