Winsor Expert Network
Our field consultants have worked with over 1,800 school districts around the country. They work in partnership with educators to improve student achievement. We have found that educators using our tools and expertise have similar questions. We have gathered the top questions asked during training and coaching sessions and provided answers.
Reading is usually learned more easily than spelling. Recognition precedes recall. Reading words requires rapidly decoding the symbols seen on the page, while spelling requires the student to retrieve the correct symbols from memory and write the symbols on paper in the correct sequence, observing the rules of the language. Sometimes it seems that reading is harder than spelling because a student is expected to look at a word and decode it immediately. The student may need more practice to reach that level of automaticity and fluency. Regardless of the reason, it may be necessary to provide students with more opportunities to practice reading words in isolation, in phrases, in sentences, and in text. Some students need only 50 repetitions to remember a word, and some need 550 repetitions before reaching an automatic level of recognition.
When you are showing the Sound Cards, students are dictating the speed and fluency. You can support increased automaticity by flipping the cards as quickly as they can be read. If students respond slowly and laboriously, you may have introduced too many sounds too quickly. In that case, remove some of the newer Sound Cards, go back a Level or two, and allow your student more opportunities to practice and more time to learn. Then reintroduce the dropped sounds slowly, allowing plenty of time and practice so your student can maintain automaticity.
To correct reading errors when a student is reading words from a list, from flashcards, or from text, have the student point to the misread word with his/her non-writing hand and then trace the letters on the table with two fingers of the writing hand while saying the sounds aloud. Blend the sounds to make a word.
An extension of this procedure involves the teacher asking eliciting questions to help students develop the critical thinking skills for self-correction. Self-correction is very empowering for the student, and this strategy enables the teacher to avoid words such as “no” and “wrong.” When teachers learn to differentiate among rule-based errors, auditory errors, and visual errors, it is easier to formulate the questions.
One error-correction procedure for spelling is Touch Spelling, where the student segments the phonemes or sounds of a word on the fingers of the non-writing hand (one sound on each finger), then isolates the error, identifies the needed correction, and rewrites the word.
An extension of this procedure involves the teacher asking eliciting questions to help students develop the critical thinking skills for self-correction. Self-correction is very empowering for the student, and this strategy enables the teacher to avoid words such as “no” and “wrong”. When teachers differentiate between rule-based errors, auditory errors, and visual errors, it is easier to formulate helpful questions. The chart below provides a sampling of error correction for spelling. Error correction examples are found in Appendix C of Sonday System 1 and throughout the Learning Plan Books of both Sonday System 1 and Sonday System 2.
|ERROR CORRECTION FOR SPELLING|
|DICTATED WORD||ACTUAL SPELLING||PROBLEM||STRATEGY OR RULE|
|black||back||Auditory sequencing||Touch Spell, putting the blend on 2 fingers.
Say: Say the sound on each finger
Ask: How do you spell /k/ after a short vowel?
|black||block||Auditory||Touch Spell (isolate and identify vowel sound)
Ask: What is the vowel sound?
|black||balck||Auditory sequencing||Touch Spell (sequence)|
|spell||spel||Rule||Ask: How do you spell /l/ at the end of a word after a short vowel?|
|spell||spall||Rule||Touch Spell (isolate vowel sound)
Ask: What is the vowel sound?
|badge||bage||Rule||Ask: What is the last sound in the word? Is the vowel long or short? How do you spell /j/ after a short vowel?|
|plunge||plung||Rule/generalization||Ask: What is the last sound in the word?
How do you spell /j/ after a consonant?
Multisensory instruction involves using multiple modalities or sensory pathways to cement new learning into memory. We learn using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic–tactile modalities—by seeing, hearing, and feeling. If we have students practice reading and spelling letters, sounds, words, and text using all three pathways of learning, material can be learned faster and cemented into long-term memory.
If you are working with a kindergartener or first-grader, start at the beginning of Sonday System 1 and work through the Pre-reading Levels, then move on to the Reading Levels. Better still, begin with Let’s Play Learn and complete that with kindergartners before starting Sonday System 1.
If you are starting with students in 2nd grade or above, do a quick overview of Sonday System 1 Pre-reading Levels, pages 1–14 (about 20–25 minutes) to help identify any foundational skills that may be missing. Mark the results on page i of the Learning Plan Book. Do this with eighth-graders as well as second graders. Even older students are often missing prerequisites to reading.
With older students in fourth grade and above, you can give the Mastery Checks for Spelling after Level 3, 6, and 9. They must pass each with 85% accuracy in order to move to the next. When they score below 85% on a test, drop back a Level or two and begin teaching. Use spelling as your gauge, since many older students will score higher on reading tests than on spelling tests and you will want to begin teaching where the first signs of weakness are noted. You may be able to move quickly through the first Levels you select, but you can expect to go more slowly after a few sessions.
If you are considering starting somewhere other than at the beginning, remember that determining where to start a student requires diagnostic expertise, knowledge of language structure sufficient to recognize gaps in the continuum, and the ability to intervene with corrective strategies. A teacher who isn’t trained in structured, systematic phonics may not be able to interpret the cues given by the learner or may not be able to intervene. It is wiser to let the Sonday System do the screening for you.
The time it takes to complete a level depends on the student and/or group of students. It’s all about the stage of the students—not their age. As a general guideline, if one new sound or rule is introduced daily, that sound or rule will then become part of the following day’s review in steps 1–4. Students will be getting multiple response opportunities in the following days and weeks in order to cement that new concept into long-term memory. A number of new sounds, rules, and sight words are contained in step 5, Introduce New Material, and will help determine how fast you can move through a level.
Perhaps your student can read the Sound Cards or spell the dictated sounds in 30 seconds, less than the 2 minutes allotted for those tasks. Some can. While some steps can be done in less than the allotted time, your student loses opportunities to practice and you lose opportunities to monitor practice if you cut the time for the whole lesson. Instead, increase the time spent spelling words and sentences or reading aloud. Instruction is more effective if it is done regularly and practiced intensively. Lessons are set up to practice each aspect of reading and spelling for a short period so your student can maintain focus on each activity. If your student is delayed in reading, you will want to close the gap as quickly as possible.
It is very important to deliver each part of the learning plan at every session because the parts work together to strengthen the whole. If each section of the plan is taking longer than the recommended time, too much material may have been introduced and the student has not reached the level of automaticity and fluency needed to cement learning into long-term memory. If this happens, back up a Level until automaticity and fluency are reached.
If the student is not able to read the 20-word Mastery Check for Reading, Form A, within the 30-second time frame, repeat the previous Level for 2 or 3 more sessions and then give Mastery Check, Form B. Do not tell the student that this is a timed test but monitor the timing for the 30 seconds. The Mastery Check is a tool to help the teacher determine whether or not the student is ready to move on. Moving ahead before the current skills are solid will likely mean going back to reteach material at a later date.
As students continue in Sonday System, the prereading skills, phonological and phonemic awareness skills, are consistently practiced. Naming, writing and sounding letters, syllables, and affixes are practiced in every level throughout the curricula.
- Phonemic blending begins when students learn the sounds of letters and begin to blend the sounds to make words.
- Phonemic segmentation involves separating the onset or ending sound of a word and continues as students Touch Spell to separate a word into its component sounds, syllables, or affixes. When students blend the sounds to make a word, the process is once again phonemic blending. The phonemic and phonological activities begun in Let’s Play Learn just began to build the base.
You may not get them to want to trace but you may be able to get them to trace. Try one or more of the following:
Model: Every time you ask them to trace, be sure that your own hand is tracing on the table. Your participation may be encouraging.
Magic: Point out that their writing hand is a magic hand when they trace on the table and it unlocks the words for them and sends the message to their brains. Demonstrate this with them.
Logic: Explain the connection that is made when tracing letters/sounds. Tracing activates motor memory in the brain and helps connect the letters and sounds (graphemes and phonemes). Because we traced sounds when we were first learning them, we can access those sounds by tracing the letters we see and allowing the brain to unlock the sounds.
Be sure that you believe in the strategy and understand the reasoning behind it—the scientific explanation—so you can be convincing.
If my group doesn't get to all six steps in one lesson, can't I just pick up where we left off the previous day?
Start at the beginning of the Learning Plan every time you start a session. It is important to set students up for success from the level of sounds and words to the level of connected text. It is like a warm-up athletes do before competing! Nothing feels better than being able to give 30–50 correct answers at the beginning of a lesson. It sets the tone for the rest of the session. Watch the clock to make sure that you stay within the time parameters. If you cannot finish Read Sounds or Spell Sounds in 2 minutes or less, you may have introduced too many sounds and the student is not reaching the level of automaticity needed for fluent reading at the word and text levels.
When working with a small group of students in a school setting, five times a week is best. If the goal is to close the gap, intensive focus and frequent opportunities to practice are required. If students are working after school, two or three times a week may be the best that can be arranged. Fatigue and activities are factors in after-school schedules. Once a week is not enough, because it requires students to hold on to new learning for 7 days without review.
Select material that is at the readability level of the students and then:
- Create a list of words and phrases from the story/article and have students preview them by reading the lists aloud in unison. Repeat. Call on students to read the list individually.
- Ask questions and have students search for answers in the lists of words and phrases above.
- Preview vocabulary.
- Have students read the selection orally in unison or taking turns.
- Ask content-related questions. Discuss. Relate to their experiences when possible.
- Pose a question based on content and have students write a response.
The time to complete the program depends on several variables:
- Age or grade level of students
- Skill level of students when entering the program
- Cognitive ability
- English language proficiency
- Number of students in the group
- Frequency of instructional sessions
- Opportunities to practice
- Independent reading time
- Teacher expertise/experience
When grouping students, use CBM’s and diagnostic screeners including spelling tests. If spelling tests are not included in your test battery, use the Criterion Referenced Spelling Test found in the Sonday System Teacher Resource Book.
Analyze student errors to determine which students have similar deficits and could work together as a group. It is advisable to group students by spelling level since the Sonday System Learning Plans are set up to review reading and spelling of sounds, words, and sentences based on the sounds and rules that have been introduced. A group that is organized by spelling level can work together comfortably through 21 minutes of a learning plan that includes Read Sounds, Spell Sounds, Read Words, Spell Words, and Introduce New Material. The last 10 minutes is for reading aloud.