Articles from "Food for Thought":
We wish you a wonderful holiday season. Teachers, who are often parents as well, are used to taking care of others, so don't forget - take care of yourself too. Get some rest. Have some fun.
Lessons 15 through 19 of the Basic Blue Core Manual establish a foundation for all the suffix work that is woven into the remainder of the Stevenson Program. While the essential concept of adding suffixes to words is reviewed several times at different points in the program, your instruction will proceed more smoothly if students really master Lessons 15-19 before covering much more of the Blue Level. Stevenson makes the whole process of adding suffixes easier to understand by making these phonics elements more concrete and more memorable. For example, students scrape off one kind of frosting from their layer cake words and then add a different flavor. However, if your students have very significant learning problems, the transition from single syllable (one-beat) words to two syllables (beats)
In the Spring of 2013, we wrote an article about some of the teaching issues that arise when struggling readers encounter the Common Core Standards. Of course, we are not the only ones to have concerns in this area, and this topic is undoubtedly going to be an ongoing subject of discussion. Education Week recently published a multi-part report entitled, "Diverse Learners and the Common Core." You might be interested in the whole report, but we particularly liked the piece called "Common Core's Promise Collides with IEP Realities." In the article many educators seemed worried about cognitively impaired pupils in particular. However, some degree of conflict exists between the standards and the needs of any atypical learner. Consider dyslexic students, children with ADHD and pupils with auditory processing issues. They all require some amount of special instruction. We are not suggesting that high standards be abandoned, only that the standard bearers need to consider the needs of all learners. If you would like to check out the Education Week article, click here.
We recently posted a new, simple assessment tool that you can use with students who are following the Overlapping Strategy. This startegy is an approach to starting the Stevenson Program. It covers key information from the first level of the program and teaches it concurrently with the second level (thus "overlapping" the content of the two levels). The Overlapping Strategy is usually used with struggling readers at the upper elementary or middle/high school level - students who don't need to repeat letter level phonics, and who have at least a small amount of reading skill already. The assessments are simply a few word lists used to help you determine which phonics elements are most problematic for the student. Along with the lists and directions, you will find some suggestions for varying the pace and emphasis of your instruction as you move through the materials. This new teaching tool can be found under the "Teaching Resources" section of this website (fourth item), or you can simply click here and print it.
A national movement has been underway for several years now with a with a perfectly reasonable goal: to develop common core educational standards that will apply nationally, rather than have fifty different sets of standards from each state to which educators and publishers must adjust. These are intended to be minimum standards, not complete specifications for all curricula at all levels. They are also not intended to preclude local decision making.
All good intentions aside, however, the Common Core State Standards create some thorny issues. (See our editorial below for some of them). We won’t try to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of the CCSS in this article. However, we thought we would make a few points that might help teachers who are using, or want to start using, the
A new school year is well underway, and if you work with struggling readers, there are bound to be new challenges. Perhaps you have different students than you expected, new records to keep, or a new schedule. If any of your problems involve implementing the Stevenson Reading Program in one way or another, do not forget that free consultation is available at 1-800-343-1211. Our office hours are M-F, 9-5 Eastern Time, and we are often in the office late. If a consultant is not available the moment you call, the office will make arrangements for a phone appointment. We are happy to help however we can.
If the Stevenson program is new to you, you are probably taking it in small doses to get used to it, particularly since it is early in the school year. While this is a normal human reaction, we encourage you to dive in. We are always here to help (800-343-1211), and your struggling readers definitely need something that will work. While you don't want to pressure students who have learning issues, both you and your students will learn a great deal about Stevenson from just doing it. Follow the directions but have fun. If you or your students feel confused, one of two things should happen: you can call us, even with the smallest question, and we will clear things up; or you will find that something that seems confusing one day becomes clear the next.
At two different workshops last spring, we heard a teacher say that research has shown that if a child does not learn to read using phonics by the end of third grade, they won't be able to learn by phonics. We do not believe this is true, and it could be a dangerous idea if many teachers begin to believe it.
It is almost impossible to keep up to date on all of the research in the field of reading, even if you are a specialist. However, we are not aware of any research that supports this idea about the ineffectiveness of
We have developed a new policy for offering free introductory workshops in order to make it easier for more people to learn about the Stevenson Program in depth. For many years we have gone to certain areas and offered a two-and-a-half hour workshop for free. These sessions are more than slide shows. They serve two essential purposes.
First, the introductory workshops thoroughly describe the methods that the Stevenson Program uses: why we choose these methods, how they address specific learning issues and how they differ from other programs.
While this change can seem small to those of us who may have learned to read easily, for struggling readers it can present a major challenge. In some cases, you will see students whose reading problems previously seemed minor begin to struggle and fail. So the transition from single syllable to multisyllable words needs to be made carefully.