World Knowledge

Last week was shortened by Eid celebrations. Haroun and I are reading our second ‘Hardy Boys’ book, punctuated with repeated-reading exercises during our two-hour-per-day sessions. He is making steady but uneventful progress, his accuracy, fluency, prosody, and confidence gradually improving. Today I asked him to read silently, but moving his

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Grade 4 Comprehension

Today we started a new Hardy Boys book.   Here’s the first few lines of the story: “Would you like relish with that?” I pulled the steel tongs out of my apron pocket and plucked a plump pink weiner out of the steaming vat of water. “Just a smear of

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100 Most Common Words

We finished our first Hardy Boys book today, the one we started on Monday. Haroun is still reading aloud, and we still take turns reading although he is reading for longer and longer stretches. We average 90-100 minutes of reading in two sessions, plus a repeated-reading or writing exercise. It

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More Googling the Hardy Boys

Continuing to read Hardy Boys and having great fun. We are googling frequently for world-knowledge, which slows us down but gives Haroun small breaks. He’s reading more than he realizes. This Hardy Boys book (‘Burned’) takes place in a school that Haroun can relate to. The kids are a bit

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The Challenge of ‘World Knowledge’

We finished our ‘Wimpy Kid’ on Friday, and Haroun was tired. So I read the first chapter of a ‘Hardy Boys’ to him, with the warning that this book would be hard for him and the offer that we would only continue if he liked it, otherwise we would find

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Progress after One Week…

We have been pounding away at fingerpoint-reading all week – five days in a row. We average about 90 minutes per day, including ‘Repeated Readings’. The gains from this intensive practice are easily visible in this 90-second video. Haroun is reading faster and with more confidence. He is hitting some

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Curiosity and Creativity

This article on the perils of grade 9 was a wake-up call to me. The goal isn’t to just get Haroun reading, but to build him up as student who can traverse high school and get into university. The more I thought about it, the bigger the challenge became. A

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Repeated Reading

It is Canada Day, but H. and I worked anyhow. The key to this intervention is *intensity* and daily practice. Today we practiced finger-point reading for 90 minutes, wrote a hamburger essay, played with affixes for ‘DICT’ (pre+dict+ion, contra+dict+ory, dict+ate+or), and talked about mindset and education on our break. And

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Fingerpoint Reading

Finger-point reading is the easiest, most joyful component of reading instruction. It is also the most important, and the most time-consuming. For older struggling readers, it is perhaps the most overlooked. (Note: do *NOT* push reading until your child has made substantial headway in the BLENDING program. Without phonological awareness

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Restarting with H.

I have reconnected with H., whom I worked with over Christmas. Blog posts about our previous work are here. It is a pleasure to see him again. He is much more poised, and looks to have grown inches in the last 6 months. He has been receiving intermittent tutoring, and

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Intervention Ends on Bad Note

Daijon and I won’t be working together any more. I’m disappointed, humbled, and sadder-but-wiser. I wish Daijon success. There won’t be any more posts here for a while. Ping me if you know another candidate.

Day 4 – Using the Word Matrix

Daijon practiced blending /ah/ and /ih/ words for about 20 minutes, rough but slowly getting stronger. But today’s video isn’t about him; instead we demonstrate the Word Matrix tool (part of SPELLING).  English spelling builds complex words from bases and a small number of affixes, for example ‘unreportable’ is built

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Day 3 – Breaking into /ih/

Daijon was back today, and AWESOME. We settled down easily to work. He was focused and relentless. You can practically watch his brain forming new connections and skills in this 5-minute video. I’ve been surprised by the support Daijon gets – teachers, social workers, and vice-principals who are determined to

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Day 2 – Challenges with ‘Rag’

Day 2: Yesterday we marched through /ah/ words ending in ‘t’ (bat, rat) and ‘p’ (cap, map), contrasting them without much difficulty. I was sure that we would have no further trouble with /ah/. But I was very wrong. First thing this morning, Daijon fell apart on /ah/ words ending

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Day 1 – Getting to work

Today, 16 June 2015,  was our FIRST DAY of training. Daijon read a small text to demonstrate his current skill, which looks to be about grade 1. Then we focused on the sound /ah/ as in Apple. We drilled words like ‘cat’ and ‘cap’, blended and segmented with the word-spinner

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The Summer of Repairing Dyslexia

The ‘Summer of Repairing Dyslexia’ is a ‘Reality TV’ style reading intervention. We are recruiting a grade-8 student with severe reading deficits, and will spend the next four months tutoring him intensively every day for 2-3 hours. We will turn him into the BEST reader in his class, and follow

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Launching the Summer of Repairing Dyslexia

Dyslexics don’t have a problem with learning, they can learn anything if taught in a suitable way.  But the skill they especially don’t learn is READING.   Poor reading often leads to educational failure, LD classrooms, bullying, and emotional problems. Yet reading is just a skill we all can learn, if

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Phonological Memory

The ‘student’ who got me interested in dyslexia was 17-years-old, perceptive, well behaved, and seemed normal enough.  He talked in grunts, which seemed to me as well-adjusted for a teenager. But over a few chats I started to learn the truth.  He couldn’t read “The Cat in the Hat”, and

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Closing the Math Gap

Community Reading Project focuses on students who lag years behind in reading, using intensive sustained tutoring.  Nothing wrong with the kids, they just need proper and intensive instruction. The SAME technique works for kids who are far behind in math. Consider this New York Times article: The teenagers in Chicago’s

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What is Dyslexia?

This posting takes the first step in examining dyslexia research – laying out the framework of what we will be looking at. A good place to start is the definition of dyslexia used by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Dyslexia

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 11

Thursday. We worked on Blending drills.  Consonant clusters weren’t yet perfect, and we peeked ahead at prefix clusters with ‘r’ (‘brand’, ‘trend’) which were pretty rough too. But we’ll keep drilling, and move forward only as quickly as H. can develop automaticity on each skill. We finished the ‘Vampire Breath’

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 10

Wednesday.   H. has struggled for the last three lessons with consonant clusters at the end of words.  He has no trouble with CVC words like ‘bun’ but give him ‘bunt’ and he goes back to guessing – with errors on the prefix, the suffix, and even the vowel.   I pulled

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 9

Tuesday. I am leaving on vacation in two days. Liz and Julianne will be helping H. while I am gone, and they drop in to spend the morning with us. Liz is the amazing teacher who connected me with H.   She has tutored H previously, but didn’t have sufficient time

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 8

Monday.  We made progress today, but had a sharp reminder of how much still lies ahead. We started with our usual blending drill. H. is working on words with consonant-clusters or digraphs in the suffix. He is struggling, the jump from ‘win’ to ‘wind’ has brought back his guessing reflexes.

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 7

Saturday. We continue to drill on CVCC words, and  H. continues to improve but is making too many errors for my liking. We have covered the drills faster than his brain can create patterns, and unfortunately we reinforce his bad guessing habits in our fingerpoint reading. In her original book

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 6

Friday.  We have worked our way through CVC words using the first five vowels, and have launched into the second part of the Blending program – consonant clusters.  Same five vowels in single-syllable words, but now we get frisky with the consonants. Our Blending materials do not differentiate between digraphs

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 5

Thursday – Christmas Day.  There were no breakthroughs today, just hard work and slow progress. I am pushing through the Blending course at top speed, not waiting for H. to master each exercise.  So he still makes odd mistakes.  Blending systematically and gradually builds one sound over another, and assumes

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 4

Wednesday.  Today we wrote our first hamburger essay. We had previously worked through some spoken essays – explaining the concept and trying some examples aloud.  I had marked up essays in the New York Times to show how they followed the hamburger-essay pattern.  Today I handed H. a pen and

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 3

Tuesday.  We are pounding our way through the Blending program.  H. isn’t completely solid on /ah/ /ih/ /aw/ but we have moved relentlessly and started into /uh/. He pronounced the first /uh/ words with /ih/ (‘hut’ as ‘hit’) and then with /aw/ (‘hut’ as ‘hot’) but I I’m making him

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Christmas Crash Reading – Day 2

Monday.  The key challenge is getting H. to stop guessing and using memorized words.  We are focused on breaking those two habits and shifting him to ‘sounding out’. This is the second day of drilling CVC words with the with the /ah/ sound.  We started with reading-aloud /ah/ words that

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