Learning to read is hard work and for many kids, slow going. Knowing this, I always ask new students, “Why do you want to learn to read?” The answers are often poignant (“I want to read the birthday cards from my grandma”), sometimes practical (“I want to be able to tell the difference betweenContinue reading “/twərk/ is an r-controlled syllable”
I took a seminar once called “The Reading Brain.” It was a required part of my Orton Gillingham training. I remember being a bit concerned when the instructor handed out a two-page “Brain Word Bank” and I didn’t recognize 90% of the terms, but I was reassured when the first activity was coloring in differentContinue reading “I’ve got reading on the brain”
We often discuss reading achievement in terms of grade level, but we rarely acknowledge how imprecise the term “grade level” is. What exactly does it mean? How are “grade level” skills determined? In fact, there are no universally accepted criteria for establishing grade level reading skills and there are at least two good reasons toContinue reading “Is my child reading on grade level?”
Parents often ask me, “How long will it take my child to learn to read?” I wish I had a nice, neat answer to that question, but the truth is, I don’t know. Children learn at different rates, and my experience in teaching reading to children with Down syndrome is that concepts are often acquiredContinue reading “As fast as you can, as slow as you must”
This week, we will be sending out more than 75 donated books to families all over the world as part of Gabriella’s Birthday Book Giveaway! Thank you to all the people who donated books and a big thank you to R. J. Julia Booksellers for all your help (and the discount!). Most of all, thank youContinue reading “Big batch of books!”
Thanks to all of you who wrote in to ask about the results of the survey I recently conducted on the literacy experiences of children with Down syndrome. I am still combing through the volumes of data but want to share some of the preliminary results. The response to the survey was phenomenal–we heard from moreContinue reading “And the survey says…..”
In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, I’d like to share a link to the National Down Syndrome Society “My Great Story” campaign. While you’re there, check out Elmo Care!
Although it doesn’t pertain to reading, I can’t resist sharing this story from Beverly Beckham about her grand-daughter, Lucy: Pictures can’t capture what love sees – South – The Boston Globe.
I want to share a link to a great post about a pre-schooler learning letter identification from iPad apps. His mother writes that he has not been taught letter names or sounds at home or pre-school so it looks as if he may have learned them from “playing” with the iPad. Check it out:Techno KidContinue reading “Pre-schoolers with iPads”
The Get Ready to Read! website is a treasure trove of free literacy resources. Designed to support both educators and parents, the site provides online games, activities, webinars, tool-kits, checklists, and more to support literacy development for preschool and kindergarten children. I especially love the Activity Cards , which are divided into levels so you can match activities to theContinue reading “More FREE Literacy stuff!”
This past Saturday, I attended my first B’nai Mitzvah ceremony. I was not very knowledgeable about this Jewish tradition, so I checked with a friend beforehand for advice to be sure I wouldn’t commit a terrible faux pas at this important event. She kindly sent me a task analysis on How to Behave at aContinue reading “Learning the Aleph-bet”
Last weekend, I was tutoring a 21-year-old young woman with Down syndrome (I’ll call her Hannah) who had gone through her entire public school career without learning to read. Hannah is an engaging, bright and social person who is living a full life. She likes to dance (Hip Hop), she’s active in sports, and sheContinue reading “Long shots”
Beverly Beckham: Who wouldn’t want this child? ~The Boston Globe Nine years after her granddaughter Lucy was born, Globe columnist Beverly Beckham reflects on what was the best of times and the worst of times.
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?”
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”
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?”
Voice of Literacy hosts bi-weekly podcasts of interviews with literacy specialists creating a conversation between researchers, teachers, parents, administrators, and policymakers. There is a searchable database of past shows, where I found Reading, Down Syndrome, and predictors of differential growth with Dr. Christopher Lemons. In this 12-minute podcast, Dr. Christopher Lemons talks about how parent and teacher expectations can affect what typeContinue reading “Great resource for podcasts on reading!”
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”
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”
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”