Friday, 17 November 2017

Increase Your Student's CVC Fluency

Stuck Sounding Out

I once had a home-school parent come to me for an evaluation for their child who seemed too be having trouble reading. One of the first things I asked the student to-do list to read a little Bob book that was mainly composed of three-letter CVC words.  He proceeded to read the book to me by sounding out each and every word  /S/ /a/ /m/  /c/ /a/ /n/  /s/ /i/ /t/. The problem was he never put any of the words back together again so his understanding of what he read was next to nothing.Usually when students have reading problems teachers encourage them to sound out words or tap out words. This is an important skill, but many children especially ones with any kind of visual dyslexia become stuck in the sound out or the tap out mode of reading.

Getting Students "Unstuck"

I wanted to create a products that would encourage children to be able to visually see the differences between CVC words and increase their fluency speed. Sounding out is a tool to decode words but we don't want students to be stuck only sounding out.

Small Differences

Many students struggle to the extreme with CVC words. In fact I have some students that can read longer words much better and they can read simple CVC words. My theory behind this problem is that CVC words are visually similar to each other. Young  children  or students with visual dyslexia have difficulty seeing the small differences in these words. So they continually sound out the same words over and over again. This can be maddeningly frustrating for both the student and for the teacher. that is why I created a product which especially focuses on vowel changes so students have to focus on these changes .

When using these sheets I always have the students read the rows with the words that only have one vowel change first and then later after they can do this fluently. I have them read the column with additional changes. Kids really respond to this interactive method and I have seen wonderful results.
I love to laminate these put them on a ring and use them again and again. It is a great time saver in the therapy room or the classroom.
If you want to try out these helpful materials. You can buy Winter CVC Fluency or Fall CVC Fluency

Happy Smart and Special Teaching

Using an Effective Method to Teach Sight Words

Writing Sight Words in Sentences is Effective

Have you ever had a student read a sight word with you perfectly well on a flash card and then later when presented with the same word in the context of the story not be able to read the word? This is happened to me so many times as a reading teacher. One of the things that I found that has helped my students immensely is writing their sight words in the context of a sentence. I don't just have them copy the word over and over again. Not only is that boring and demotivating, it doesn't really work.

Sight Word Sentence Fun

I created a  fun product which encourages children to write their sight words in the context of a sentence. However,  especially for the younger students I didn't want it to be overwhelming. That's why I made it gradual.  In my first level pack the students begin by writing one word of the sentence each subsequent sentence they add another word that they need to write.

A Specific Method-Whisper Writing

I encourage students to read the word and then say the letters as I write them each time. If they're doing this all the center then I have the students whisper read the word and whisper the letters as they write them.Sometimes I give students and sight word sentence buddy somebody that they can do the center with that will make sure that they are reading the word and saying the letters as they write them. The students take turns writing their sentences whispering as they write.

Helpful Variations

Another variation . Students often enjoy  is stamping out the word with stamps and colored ink word building the word with plastic letters. But If you are using this in an intervention group, I encourage you to at least at first have the students write out the sentences and not just write with plastic letters or with stamps. This kinesthetic experience of writing the words is extremely powerful to help students take the word from their short-term memory into their long-term memory. If you're working with a student with dysgraphia and the student really struggles with writing then perhaps it would be a good idea to have them write out the sentence at least once but for the other times you stamps or plastic letters so that the student doesn't become too frustrated.

Better than Flashcards

If you send the sheets home for students to do for homework I would suggest instructing the parents to have the students read the word and write the word saying the letters as they write them. If students write the words within the context of a sentence they're more likely to be able to recognize their sight words again in the context of their reading.

The first pack covers 93 words you can get it here  and the second pack covers 83 words and you can get it here.

Happy Smart and Special Teaching!

How to Increase Reading Fluency in Children

Improving Reading Fluency and Comprehension with Cloze Passages

As a reading therapist, my ultimate goal with each student is to help Students become fluent readers. When I first started teaching reading, I struggled to find enough good reading material for my students who struggle. We would get through the curriculum and my struggling students still needed more practice. The I started looking for other things for my students to read. The problem is that many of the things they're out there labeled as easy to read Level 1 readers or I Can Read books my students were not able to read.  That is when I started creating reading passages that would be easily decodable by my students.

I also wanted to find a way for my students to be able to really connect with the material. I wanted them to have a multi-sensory experience and not just have the words "float over their heads". That's when I decided to add cloze passages to all of my stories. I love cloze passages for the following reasons:

Help with comprehension:

When words are missing from the story and children have to write them in they have to connect to the story enough to know what word is coming next. In fact, some reading comprehension assessment tests use cloze passages to test students comprehension levels.

Make it multi-sensory

Reading cloze passages allow students to have a multi-sensory experience when they reading are reading. Writing is the kinesthetic expression of reading. When I have a student write a word in a  cloze passage. I have them say the word and write the word. This gives them an auditory experience, a visual experience and a kinesthetic experience.

Fun Fluency

Any good teacher knows the key to helping students master material is to give students enough practice with material until they become fluent. Cloze passages are just another way for students to. practice. The students read the story the with me. Then after they read the story they have to read it again in order to be able to do to cloze passage. I usually get students to read a passage 3 or 4 times by the time we're through doing a cloze passage.

Fun and Easy Centers

Also I love to laminate cloze passages and stories and put them into a center after I've done them with students to give them more practice. Kids really love it anytime they get to write with a wipe off marker. It's a fun experience and it makes for a fast and easy Center for me.

Great For Intervention

These passages are also great for an intervention time. If you have volunteers who come in to read with your students or if you take small groups of students out to do intervention time. Cloze passages are excellent for this instruction. It's totally no prep and it's completely effective. I use this technique with my dyslexic students and it works very well!
You can pick up these Blends and Digraphs Passages here at my store and follow me because I am adding more sets weekly and they are half off for the first 48 hours.
If you need CVC Practice go here and If you need Silent E practice or Glued Sounds
Happy Smart and Special Teaching!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Activities for Reading Fluency with Visual Dyslexia

Improving Visual Memory

I have  worked extensively with students with visual dyslexia. These students often have good phonemic awareness, and can "sound out" words,  but can not visualize these words in their minds and so continue to sound out the same words time and time again. These students must have help to retrain the brain to see these words and phrases in their "mind's eye." If the students can not get these words from the short term memory to the long term their reading rate is extremely slow. This leaves them frustrated. 

Sentence Pyramids

One activity I use to help students with this are Sentence Pyramids. They help with repetition in a fun way. I have students read one word or phrase and then try to vizualize that word with closed eyes and “air write” the word or phrase.

Sentence Flip Books

These work on the same principle. Have the student read one sentence at a time and then flip the page and try to write it. For some students , they may need to just write one or two words and then flip back and read again.  The goal is to help them retain more and more word pictures and not to "sound out."  "Oh, wait" but you might think but " sounding out" is good. Indeed, it is an important skill but these are words they already know the sounds for. In fact, they have decoded them perhaps hundreds of times. They need to get beyond decoding to fluency.

Sentence puzzles

I included sentence puzzles in this fluency pack to aid in fluency and visualization. Have the student put together the puzzle, read it, and then turn over one piece at a time and have them "air write" what they saw.
I have a sample pack of these materials available for Free here. The whole pack has 25 sentence pyramids with stories, flip books, and puzzles to make essential practice fun.
You may purchase this megapack here.

Sentence pyramids Powerpoint

I tutor students online all over the word. So I need great multimedia presentations to keep kids attention while we work on needed skills. I created a Sentence Pyramid Powerpoint to keep my students engaged. This powerpoint will reveal one phrase at a time and kids love it. You can buy it here.

Strengthen Symbol Imagery

Strengthening symbol Imagery is essential for all struggling and beginning readers. Without good symbol imagery skills students reading rate and spelling accuracy is curtailed. I base my learning activities for symbol imagery based on  Seeing Stars by Nanci Bell. This is an excellent resource for any teacher or homeschool parent will a student with weak symbol imagery ability. Please follow my blog and my store for more great materials for struggling readers and writers. Lots of freebies in every post.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Speech and Language Therapy and Black History Month (with Freebie)

Harriet Tubman Helping Kids with Speech

I normally work with students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia, but I also help students with speech and language issues. Also, many of my students have English as a second or third language so language is an issue I deal with often. I  wanted to share my new Harriet Tubman Speech and Language Therapy Unit.  Harriet Tubman is truly a woman I respect for her courage and perseverence. The first aspect of the unit is a mini book which features the life of Harriet Tubman in easy decodable language.
I am selling this book by itself in my store, but it comes as a freebie in the Speech and Language Therapy Unit.

The unit cover sequencing and includes Ordinal Numbers and Transition words for retelling.

Then I created 36 game cards which target vocabulary, grammar and phonetic awareness  as well as comprehension and Wh questions for students to answer. They come in color and black and white as well as with and without picture prompts for students at different levels.

The unit covers syllables, rhyme, and articulation goals as well.

There is also an open-ended game which I have included as a Black History Month Freebie 

Please do leave freeback if you decide to download this game.

Hope you find this unit helpful and please subscribe to my blog and follow my store so you don't miss out on great products and more freebies
Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Best Curriculum to Help Struggling Writers


Some students are blessed with the ability to just sit down and write. If they are given a topic, they can sit down and write paragraphs with ease. But for many students writing is a nightmare, they don't know what to write or how to structure their writing. These students  either write very little or they write a lot, but it is a confusing mess. These students  need to be taught a system to get their thoughts out on paper in an organized way. 


Students who struggle with writing need very specific instructions in order to write well.  Many writing programs give general outlines or ideas on writing, but struggling writers just find this frustrating. They need specific instructions on ways to write sentences, paragraphs and essays and they also need specific guidance on each type of writing ie. narrative, persuasive, expository etc.


Just as multi-sensory activities help dyslexic readers read better, multi-sensory strategies help struggling writers write more effectively.One effective technique I use often is making the students highlight the different parts of their paragraph or essay in different colors. 

Three curriculum programs that I like to use the most with struggling writers are Institute for Excellence in Writing, Step up to Writing, and Basic Writing Skills by Judith Hochman. In fact, I combine the strategies of these three fantastic programs when I tutor struggling writers.

I have created a terrific resource for January that focuses on expository paragraph writing.
It combines  the 3 S's using a Power point presentation and correlating printables.  You can purchase it here

If you have a struggling writer who is not ready for expository paragraphs yet you might find this article helpful.

I will be creating more helpful material for struggling writers in the future so subscribe to my blog and follow my store so you don't miss out.