Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Summer Tutoring Available

STEPS Reading Center provides one-on-one tutoring for students of all ages. Our specially trained teachers work with your child to learn the letter sounds and how to write them either in manuscript or cursive. Students will learn all 70 phonogram sounds and then how to blend those sounds together to read. Your child will also be taught the process of spelling and the rules that determine the correct spelling of English.
Sessions meet 2 hours per week.
We are currently accepting summer students for the Summerville, SC area.
Sessions are available for Tues./Thurs 8-4.
Phone: 843-875-5169
Contact us now for scheduling.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let the Computer Do the Flipping!

The STEPS class, Fluency 101, has multiple presentations that are perfect for differentiated guided practice with blending. You can choose between the automatic pace of the transitions that are set for the desired fluency goal or user controlled presentations with or without audio.
The computerized practice can be done whole group or individually and it avoids awkward vowel consonant combinations, r controlled vowels, or sometimes just embarrassing words. I can think of a few that I would not want my students blending!
Some of the blending activities in Fluency 101 do include audio and user controls. The video sample activity below does not include audio and the automatically advancing phonograms encourage a fluent, quick pace. This activity would be used as your student's ability to blend sounds improves. Integrate phonogram practice and the skill of blending by using this activity on your Smartboard™ for whole class practice.
It is important to remember that this blending practice uses ALL first sounds, so short vowels every time!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wear Out Those Blue Cards

Learning the accurate, isolated sounds of English to the point of automaticity is not an end unto itself. It would be similar to learning the addition facts and never using them to solve a problem. STEPS instruction has students using the sounds shortly after their introduction to blend the sounds of nonsense syllables. Blending nonsense syllables provides practice with the left to right directionality of reading. Practicing with nonsense syllables takes away the "guess the word" inclination and keeps attention on the process of accurate, quick decoding.
The small student-sized cards are easy to use when flashing for sound/symbol retention and blending activities in a pocket chart or desk top.
Stack up the Blue Set phonogram cards in three piles: consonants, vowels, consonants.
Go through sound, sound, sound: /v/-/a/-/p/
Blend the sounds dragging out the vowel sound slightly: /va....p/
Say the syllable quickly: /vap/
Remove a card from a stack to practice blending a different syllable.
For this type of practice use only the first, most common sound, of each phonogram and remind students that the vowel opens our mouth and the final consonant's job is to close our mouth.
STEPS offers computerized blending activities and more in the online class, Fluency 101.
FREE SUPPORT!----Often students have learned the code necessary to read, but they are stuck reading slowly grinding it out, one word at a time. Building fluency is the key to helping a child learn to love to read! In this FREE course, learn how fluency impacts reading comprehension and how to build it in readers of all ages.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Success! Isn't this where we heading?

If you've ever had one of your own children learn to read, you know what a milestone this can be! This little guy is in kindergarten. He's known the Blue Set of phonograms for a while, but is just learning the Green Set. With those tools in hand, he's beginning to be able to decode easy readers. But the real giant leap is when they begin to try their hand at reading all alone! He's working through an old favorite, The Boxcar Children.

To help encourage your kids to develop independence in reading, try these ideas:

  • Set aside a quiet time each day. She may be too old for naps, but quiet no-TV time makes reading more likely.
  • Set 2 bedtimes. Everyone's in bed by 8:00, but anyone who's reading can be up until 8:30!
  • Set the stage. Stick-on lights, like the one in this photo, make even a bottom bunk a reading nook.
  • Of course, read aloud to your kids, but make read-alouds from longer more complex chapter books. It's a great place to read the classics - especially the ones you missed as a kid! Bambi by Felix Salten is a terrific read aloud. Do they have to understand every word or really "get" the details? No, the idea is that they read for themselves what they can, but you read aloud to show them what's out there in the world of books!
  • Take a page from New Zealand. I've never been there, but they're supposed to have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. And one reason that's credited is the Saturday morning reading time. It's  tradition that Saturday mornings are spent in bed reading. Instead of hopping up to Saturday morning cartoons, kids find books placed on their pillows by, no doubt, tired moms and dads. So everyone is expected to sleep in a little extra and enjoy some quiet reading time. So if it's not a tradition, it should be! Try it at your house this weekend.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Phonogram Video Examples

This video example is "b" from the Blue Set.
STEPS teaches the phonograms through a multi-sensory approach so students see the printed symbol, hear the sound, and write and say the phonogram together. The face to face direct instruction of the phonograms includes discussion on how it feels to produce the sounds. Pointing out the placement of the teeth, lips, tongue, and where the air flows helps students that have trouble with auditory discrimination.
STEPS Support classes "How to Use the Phonogram Packet", "Phonogram Lab", and "STEPS Teacher Resources" contain Phonogram Video Examples of all the color-coded sets.
Stay tuned to the Blog for some tips on how to prevent students from reversing the letter "b" and "d"!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spotlight on Phonograms

phono (sound) + gram (to write)

phonogram- the written symbol of a letter or letters representing a sound

There are approximately 45 sounds in the English language. So here is where the fun begins, we can spell those45 sounds in about 70 different ways. STEPS students learn the 70 phonograms to the point of automaticity. For reading, they must recognize the phonogram quickly to say the sound when they see it. And to spell, they must be able to quickly write the phonogram when they hear the sound. When these 2 processes become automatic, students can read, write, and spell with ease.

The first STEP is to learn the sounds. Teachers prepare themselves by studying the sounds in STEP 1. In STEP 4, students are taught the letters of the alphabet and how to write them. Progressing through the STEPS more phonograms are introduced in STEPS 9, 11, 14 and 25. STEPS has a variety of ways to help teachers, parents, and students learn the sound/symbol relationships of the 70 basic phonograms in STEPS Classes.