PHONICS TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
Volume 67 ~ October 2014
by Dolores G. Hiskes


PHONICS-TALK: The Dorbooks Newsletter
by Dolores G. Hiskes - October 2014
Volume 67 - YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW: Part 2

In Volume 66 we began a three-part series on the history of Dorbooks.
*YESTERDAY* was an accounting of how and why Dorbooks began.

*TODAY* will be a journey of Dorbooks highlights and growth
over the years. There are so many wonderful moments in this history
it is difficult to choose. So perhaps I will narrow it down and just
relate when Phonics Pathways was FIRST used in a local tutoring
program, FIRST used in a school, FIRST used district-wide, and
when it was FIRST used nationwide.

So sit down, grab a cup of tea, and read on . . .

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1994--FIRST SCHOOL TUTORING PROGRAM

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In 1994 Joe Michell School in Livermore became the first school to
use Phonics Pathways as a tutoring program.

Joe Michell School serves a diverse population, with a growing
number of students in the free lunch programs who also live in
subsidized housing. They were coming to school totally unprepared
to learn. Joe Michell had the lowest reading scores in the entire district,
and in 1994 the principal decided to implement an in-school tutorial
program using Phonics Pathways. Parent, community members, and
high school student volunteers received a brief one-hour training, and
tutored every 1st to 3rd grade student in the hallway, one-on-one for
20 minutes, three times a week.

In only ten months the school advanced from having the LOWEST to
the HIGHEST reading scores in the entire school district! The teachers
were elated. 4th grade teacher Pam Mendonca now has all these
*graduates* in her class for the first time, and she observed *This is
he most literate group I have ever had. Our tutorial program is worth
its weight in gold.* One boy said to his teacher *I did it! I read it all by
myself!* He could not believe that it was really true. Then he added
*I am so good!* (Smiles all around!)

Director Kathryn Kaldhusal added:
*When second-grader Maria first arrived she was scared, shy, and
felt lost and left behind. Within two months Elaina arrived and Maria
is full of pride as she now helps demonstrate to Elaina how to use
Phonics Pathways and accompanying games. Within three weeks
Elaina began phonetically reading three-letter words. These students
are now launched on a life-long journey of discovery. And all this with
only one paid part-time coordinator. What a gift!*

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1996--FIRST CLASSROOM USE

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In 1996 Tovashal Elementary School in Murrietta became the first
school to use Phonics Pathways in the classroom. Teacher Pam
Barret wrote:

*I began using Phonics Pathways in 1996 at Tovashal Elementary
School. We had great success with first graders for the nine years
that I was on staff as the first-grade team literacy leader. We also
used Phonics Pathways for the before-and-after-school tutoring
for 2nd to 5th graders. In 2005 I became an academic coach in
Hemet, CA where I shared Phonics Pathways with an entire district
full of struggling readers.

*In March 1997 we presented a special evening for parents, and
ALL thirty-two first graders from my class (including English-langage
learners and those with a reading disability) got on the stage and
read selections from *The Book of Virtues*. This after only a few
months of using Phonics Pathways! If every kindergarten and first-
grade teacher had a copy of this book intervention in the grades
that follow would be a thing of the past.

*Teachers, parents, and grandparents at every school where I worked
to train them were amazed at how much the students improved with
Phonics Pathways, and how much their own teaching practice
improved as well.

*Now three of my adult children have been using Phonics Pathways in
their own classrooms with their students. Another daughter used this
book with the students she tutors in her business. My adult children
have then shared their Phonics Pathways success stories with many
others. Your great work has multiplied greatly within our small little
sphere of influence for 18 years. Thank you for producing a generation
of readers!* -Pam Barrett, 1998 Teacher of the Year

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1997--FIRST DISTRICT-WIDE USE

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In 1997 Lowell School District in Whittier became the first district-wide
user of Phonics Pathways. Reading specialist Bettina Dunne wrote:

*This is Lowell Joint School District*s implementation year of Phonics
Pathways. We are targeting all grade 3-6 students in the District*s
Title 1 program.

*I needed to find a phonics program to use with our bulging upper
grade Title 1 students. I previewed phonics program after phonics
program, and my criteria crystallized. The program must:

a-fit into the existing reading program
b-be flexible enough for individual or small group work
c-require little or no preparation time
d- include all phonics skills with accessibility to all grades
e-be sequential
f-be as easy for instructional assistants to use as for teachers.
g-not be prohibitively expensive

*I finally found this program when I attended the California Reading
Conference and heard a presentation by Dolores Hiskes. Phonics
Pathways was definitely the program of choice!

*We put the program onto card stock so it would be easier to use
with small groups and have a longer shelf life. (We are still using
the cards three years later.) It also made it easier to focus on
certain skills. We used chalkboards for the writing portion. Chalk
was our only consumable. The lack of worksheets put the focus
on sound-symbol relationships.

*Students were soon able to experience phonics as it should be:
hearing, seeing, saying, then writing. Our students saw and heard
patterns in the language emerge. They became able to read words
they had only guessed (and often wrongly) at before, and discovered
strategies to help them decode unknown words. They experienced
success. The instructional assistants were broadening their knowledge
base as well.

*A record sheet was developed for each student participating in
Jordan*s new Reading Assistance Program. Phonics Pathways was
used five to ten minutes at the beginning of each 25 minute lesson.
The 22 targeted students in third grade had an increase of 22 national
percentage points in word study skills, moving from 21 to 47 NP, and
an increase of 26 national percentage points in reading comprehension,
going from 10 NP to 36 NP. And the first and second graders were
decoding words better than many of their peers who were not even in
the program! The second grade Spring 1996 SAT scores went up from
the 1995 scores an average of 22 NP in word study skills and 13 NP
points in reading comprehension.

*Here is a program that is concrete, ready-to-use, and successful.
An added benefit: the students loved it! Third grade teachers liked
having tools to support their spelling as well as reading skill lessons.
They were seeing gains in skill and strategy acquisition higher than
they were expecting. And it was just halfway through the school year.

*Phonics Pathways does not solve all reading problems, but it is an
invaluable aide in teaching phonics. It is a no-frills package that
unlocks the secrets of sound and symbol relationships, allowing
comprehension to become the focus. Students, now able to read
words, can meet reading at its most vital level -- they can read
for meaning!
-Bettina Dunn, Reading Teacher & Title 1 Coordinator*

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Part 3--*FIRST NATIONWIDE USE,* will follow shortly.
(Too long to include here)

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Meanwhile, have a wonderful day. I hope the weather by you is
as lovely as it is here in our part of California. Last night we
celebrated our wonderful son-in-law*s birthday with an al fresco
dinner on the patio of a restaurant we have been wanting to try
for a long time, and oh my! it was just delicious. And the evening
was balmy and warm as well — a rarity where we live in Marin.

Magical memories to cherish and last a lifetime, along with the
history of Phonics Pathways!

Blessings,
Dolores

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

 

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