Would you mind going over that phonemic awareness thing again?

For the past few days, I have been trying to write a short, simple post on phonemic awareness. I start out fine, but by the third paragraph I am mired in the tongue-twisting vocabulary needed to describe this important area of literacy development, and I give up. Today, I had the great idea to find someoneContinue reading “Would you mind going over that phonemic awareness thing again?”

Myths and realities

People are very open-minded about new things — as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.~ Charles F. Kettering I often find myself spending more time than I want to persuading people to teach a child with Down syndrome to read. There are a lot of myths out there about reading instruction for thisContinue reading “Myths and realities”

What about sight words?

I am often asked about sight word instruction for children with Down syndrome. This can be a touchy topic in the field because, years ago, most children with Down syndrome who were taught to read at all were taught using functional sight word programs. The thinking was that children with Down syndrome were not intellectually capableContinue reading “What about sight words?”

There’s an app for that

Today I was researching iPad apps when I came across an article entitled Confession App ‘No Substitute for the Sacrament.’ Apparently, there is an app for everything (in this case, Confession: A Roman Catholic App). In the article, a church official stresses that the app cannot substitute for a personal encounter, although it may be usefulContinue reading “There’s an app for that”

Early, intensive literacy intervention

For those of you who don’t know her, Sue Buckley has been studying the development of language and literacy in children with Down syndrome since 1980. She and her co-authors just published a study evaluating the effects of an early literacy intervention for children with Down syndrome. (You can find the full text of the paperContinue reading “Early, intensive literacy intervention”

Why we need universal literacy screening

Over the past month, the Open Books Open Doors project has provided free literacy screenings to more than 25 young children with Down syndrome through a grant from the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress. According to the  U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse, early literacy screening for elementary-aged children is critical so we can identify studentsContinue reading “Why we need universal literacy screening”

Let’s raise the bar

There has been a long-standing and often contentious debate in education about the “best” way to teach reading: phonics or Whole Language. Simply put, phonics instruction emphasizes the relationship between speech sounds and letters, letter groups, and syllables. Whole language emphasizes the meaning of text and strategies for understanding language as a system of parts thatContinue reading “Let’s raise the bar”

The power of literacy

Even though children with Down syndrome can learn to read using the same evidence-based strategies as other readers, they are routinely excluded from effective reading instruction.That means that many children are growing up without the ability to keep a diary, write a poem, text their friends, read a recipe, tweet, read street signs, pass notesContinue reading “The power of literacy”