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Has anyone used Writing Road to Reading or SWR? (Spalding Method)

all about spelling the writing road to reading

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#1 mommyrooch

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 06:05 PM

Hello, I have a seven year old daughter that has been struggling with learning to read. I have been doing some research and have come across information on the Spalding Method of teaching reading. I've looked at both the Spell to Read and Write program and the Writing Road to Reading. Has anyone used either of these and if so do you recommend it. How easy is it to teach? I've read some reviews about it being hard to understand/teach. What materials (i.e. phonogram cards) would be needed to teach it? Has it proved effective for any of your children?

Thank you,

Jennifer

#2 siloam

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 07:47 PM

Hello, I have a seven year old daughter that has been struggling with learning to read. I have been doing some research and have come across information on the Spalding Method of teaching reading. I've looked at both the Spell to Read and Write program and the Writing Road to Reading. Has anyone used either of these and if so do you recommend it. How easy is it to teach? I've read some reviews about it being hard to understand/teach. What materials (i.e. phonogram cards) would be needed to teach it? Has it proved effective for any of your children?

Thank you,

Jennifer


Jennifer,

I have used SWR for about two years, maybe three. I learned a ton from it, but I don't really think it is an easy program.

You would need:

Phonograms cards
SWR book
WISE guide
Spelling Cards
A Log book for you and for your child.

I switched over to AAS, which is more user friendly (open and go). I prefer the way rules are presented, the review, and that it doesn't require you to spend a lot of time on the program to get good results.

SWR tends to be time intensive.

Heather



#3 pixeldog

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:02 PM

I am just getting ready to use WRTR with my kindergartener. Have read over the book numerous times and I think it's starting to settle in to my brain. It seems like a challenge to get started, but from several accounts on the boards here, it's a great program if you stick with it. I'm making my own phonogram cards and printed out some 5/8 inch paper from www.donnayoung.org to put in a binder for him. Hope that'll do as we are on a very tight budget right now.:001_smile:

Nancy in NC

#4 razorbackmama

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:03 PM

I am using WRTR, and it is difficult to teach. I think the methodology is getting in the way of the philosophy, if that makes sense. My kids are spending so much time figuring out what to mark how and where that it gets in the way of actually spelling and reading the words.

We are about to switch to All About Spelling because it looks much easier to implement/understand.

#5 mommyrooch

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:04 PM

Heather, what program is AAS? I'm sure I've probably heard of it but the initials AAS aren't ringing a bell.

Thanks,

Jennifer

#6 razorbackmama

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:05 PM

Heather, what program is AAS? I'm sure I've probably heard of it but the initials AAS aren't ringing a bell.

Thanks,

Jennifer


Not Heather, but it's All About Spelling. :)

#7 pixeldog

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:12 PM

What's the difference between the two (AAS and WRTR)?

Thanks, Nancy in NC

#8 Miss Sherry

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:16 PM

Yes, I have had experience with this program. No, I do not recommend it. It is the least user friendly program I have come across in the 17 years I have been homeschooling.

The phonics methods based on the Spalding book do NOT work for everyone. The educational needs of children vary from child to child. When my oldest dd was kindegarden age we started out using the Writing Road to Reading along with the materials by @@@@@. I also attended her seminars a couple of times to learn to use the materials. I am very confident I was using the program "correctly". I even took my daughter to some "professional" teachers that use Spalding ( It's a homeschool organization that helps homeschoolers in Oregon) to see if they used the program the same way with her as I was. After about two visits they told me I really didn't need their help using the program. Actually, they were amazed at how much she had learned in other subjects without being a reader yet, and wanted to know how I taught her. My dd had sequential and visual memory problems and the Spalding method (which comes packaged in different ways with different names) simply did not work with her. It was really causing her a lot of stress. I could see her becoming stressed using the program and one day when I brought it out she broke out in tears and cried really hard. Frankly, it would have been mean to continue using it with her. We switched to Alpha Phonics and she began to progress. I never went back to Spalding with her and she is very bright and has very good comprehension.
Unfortunately, among the people I have been around promoting the Spalding method I have heard some very dogmatic statements that it is the "Best" method and once someone uses it they will never change to another method. Well, it is not the "BEST" for everyone and I personally have met people that have used it and dropped it. The same people that I have heard saying Spalding is the greatest I have also heard harshly critisize in public - (at training seminars)virtually every other reading program you can think of. However, I have heard of many, many parents that have had great success teaching their children to read with these other programs.
I also started my son with Spalding and he had virtually NO reading comprehension ( although he passed all phonics tests 100% and could spell above his grade level) until after I started using another program with him.

Edited by Miss Sherry, 14 March 2009 - 11:34 PM.


#9 pixeldog

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 09:27 PM

Wow! Very helpful. I might check into AAS and Alpha Phonics, as well, just to compare.

Nancy in NC

#10 Ellie

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:22 PM

I am using WRTR, and it is difficult to teach. I think the methodology is getting in the way of the philosophy, if that makes sense. My kids are spending so much time figuring out what to mark how and where that it gets in the way of actually spelling and reading the words.

We are about to switch to All About Spelling because it looks much easier to implement/understand.

You're supposed to tell them how to mark their spelling words, not have the dc figure it out :-)

#11 Ellie

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:30 PM

What's the difference between the two (AAS and WRTR)?

Thanks, Nancy in NC

The Spalding Method is much more comprehensive than AAS. (WRTR is the manual for the Spalding Method.) It also involves all modalities more than AAS, which isn't an issue for all dc. Spalding covers everything your dc need to know for English skills: handwriting, spelling, reading, punctuation and capitalization, simple composition; it can teach more comprehensive grammar and composition if you want it to. And it's all in the one book, Writing Road to Reading (along with a couple of peripherals, which you buy once and use for all ages).

#12 Ellie

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:32 PM

Hello, I have a seven year old daughter that has been struggling with learning to read. I have been doing some research and have come across information on the Spalding Method of teaching reading. I've looked at both the Spell to Read and Write program and the Writing Road to Reading. Has anyone used either of these and if so do you recommend it. How easy is it to teach? I've read some reviews about it being hard to understand/teach. What materials (i.e. phonogram cards) would be needed to teach it? Has it proved effective for any of your children?


SWR is not Spalding. The Spalding Method is only taught using WRTR. SWR is Sanseri's method.

If you decide on Spalding, you'd need WRTR, the Spelling Assessment Manual, and the phonogram cards. You can also buy teacher guides and some other cards, but they are optional.

#13 Miss Sherry

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:46 PM

Sanseri's program is based on the Spalding method. There are several programs that are based on the Spalding method. Some of the minor differences in some of the programs based on Spalding have to do with copyright laws. If you do not care for Spalding than you should not get Sanseri's program or any of the others based on it.

Here's a link that includes the history of Wanda Sanseri's program. She is a wonderful woman. Although I do not recommend using any program based on the Spalding method, I have met Mrs. Sanseri, and cannot help but like her.
Wanda Sanseri is VERY familiar with the Spalding method and she actually studied under Romalda Spalding.

http://www.bhibooks.net/about.html

Edited by Miss Sherry, 14 March 2009 - 10:59 PM.


#14 LizzyBee

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:51 PM

I used SWR for a year with my middle dd. She was in 3rd grade, a little behind with reading, and very behind with spelling and writing. That was the year she began pulling her hair and calling herself stupid. As another poster said, the method does not work for everyone.

What I've learned since then is that WRTR and its offshoots were adapted from Orton-Gillingham methods. OG is the evidence-based method for teaching kids with dyslexia and other LLDs (language-based learning disabilities) how to read and spell. OG programs move very slowly, teaching and solidifying one principle before introducing the next one. WRTR, SWR, and similar programs speed up the process so that the programs can be used with kids who don't have LLDs. My dd is mildly dyslexic, and SWR served no purpose other than to frustrate her. She would have done better with a pure OG program, but I didn't know any better at the time.

Much later, I purchased AAS to use with my youngest dd, but it turned out that she is severely dyslexic and AAS moves much too fast for her. We will be using Barton Reading instead.

If your dd is struggling to the point that she would likely be diagnosed with an LD if tested, I suggest looking into OG programs. This is my favorite website about dyslexia: www.dys-add.com Perhaps you will find it helpful for determining whether an OG program would be a better choice for your dd.

#15 Miss Sherry

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 11:05 PM

SWR is not Spalding. The Spalding Method is only taught using WRTR. SWR is Sanseri's method.

Ellie, Although SWR was not developed and copyrighted by Spalding , it most certainly is based on Spalding methods, so I would call it a "Spalding" program.But yes, it is Wanda Sanseri's program,not something copyrighted and developed by Spalding. But she designed it based on her knowlege of Spalding in order to make it more useable by parents.

Mrs. Sanseri studied under Romalda Spalding the author of the Writing Road to Reading.

We are really only talking semantics here and copyright laws. Not methodology of phonics programs.

Here's a quote from Wanda Sanseri's website ." Aware of her own limitations and inadequacies, she never dreamed that one day she would write a curriculum inspired by Mrs. Spalding's book, The Writing Road to Reading, and train educators coast to coast in phonics."
Another quote from Wanda Sanseri's website.." God provided the unexpected opportunity for her to study under experts like Romalda Spalding. She discovered a consistent, scientific way to teach language skills and watched her firstborn son flourish under her instruction."
Also, I will say that I have heard Wanda Sanseri say from her own mouth that she studied under Romalda Spalding.
I don't know why you would say , Ellie, that SWR is not a Spalding program. Unless you mean that technically it was not written or copyrighted by Spalding. But it certainly uses Spalding methods.

http://www.bhibooks.net/about.html

Edited by Miss Sherry, 14 March 2009 - 11:30 PM.


#16 Alana in Canada

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 11:20 PM

Not every program is for everyone, that's for sure!

We use SWR and I chose it because
1) my son was 8 and not reading well.
2) He was calling himself stupid and was quite down on himself.
3) I tried alphaphonics and while it got him over the initial hump of not reading, we weren't progressing at all. And he was fast becoming disinclined to try.
4) He needed to be engaged in lots of ways at once.
5) He is actually a fairly logical guy. I knew that if he could see the logic behind why something was spelled in such and such a way, he would get it.
6) He had zero tolerance for frustration or "not knowing." Having a flashcard to show him or a phonogram to guide him, using the finger spelling--I had lots of "hints" and that would calm him down.

I love the program: I did not love learning it. It seems dead simple to me now--but I swear it turned all my hair grey the first time I read the manual. Sanseri does not lay out the material well. There is, however, a schedule at the back: if you follow that, you will be fine. There is also a yahoo group which was invaluable.

We've done the program with the phonogram cards (I also got them laminated. A must-do. You won't believe the use you'll put them too.), the spelling rule cards, (also laminated) the WISE guide and the SWR book. We've made our own logs with paper from donna young and binders.

If you think the program is what your child needs, then take the time and trouble to learn it properly and teach it. But dem's pretty big guns and you may not need 'em.

Good luck to you.

Edited by Alana in Canada, 14 March 2009 - 11:22 PM.


#17 OhElizabeth

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 11:27 PM

Jennifer, I used SWR to teach my dd to read, and while I like it, I suggest you do some further research to see WHY your dd is having trouble learning to read. I'm not up on all these issues, so I'm not the one to speak. However I will say that many normal kids would be reading by age 7 no matter WHAT the program, so that to me her problem and age is a red flag that more could be going on. There are things with visual tracking problems and other things that I really don't know enough about except to say they exist. I suggest you go read on the special needs board here and look for posts by people like Pensguys, whose younger son struggled to read, didn't start till later, etc. It may be testing and certain therapies are what it's going to take to get her over this hump, not another curriculum. The best curriculum in the world can't overcome if there are LD's or issues that need to be treated.

#18 siloam

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 12:28 AM

What's the difference between the two (AAS and WRTR)?

Thanks, Nancy in NC


Ok I will do my best to explain it, but I can only do so in comparison to SWR not WRTR. I can also address some of the points Ellie brought up

SWR introduces all 70 phonograms up front. On the first list you will cover CVC words or CV words, including short and long vowels. I think by the 2nd or 3rd list you are covering diphthongs too. Now each lesson does have specific phonograms to review, usually about 10. But the words really aren't grouped in any order. You keep track of spelling rules by 1. dictating the rule into the child's log (you read the rule they write it out word by word). 2. When you run across a word that uses a spelling rule, you write that word in your log under the rule. Markings are used for visual distinction. For example when you use a silent e you draw a half circle from the e to the vowel it makes say its name. You also double under line the e (because sometimes it is there for other reasons, like because English words don't end in v-love). Where letters have more than one sound you put the number of that sound above the letter. Now for 1 you put nothing, so bet has no markings because /e/ is the most common sound of E. Be though would have a 2 above the 2 because /E/ is the 2nd most common sound of E.

AAS groups words according to sound or spelling rule, but let me back up because it actually starts before that. The first thing AAS does is introduce the phonograms. Now the child should gain familiarity here, but mastery of all of them is not needed. Next you cover phonemic awareness. What is that? That is the ability to hear sounds in a word. To hear that be has two sounds and so does ate (even though it has three letters). If a child can't hear separate sounds they can't spell. I didn't find any work in SWR on phonemic awareness, so that is one place where AAS is a stronger program. From there it introduces the first sounds of vowels, their short sounds. All the words will have their short A sounds, then short I, ect... About now I suspect you are asking if they study the words in groups how do the child learn to spell them outside the groups? You get a set of word cards with AAS, and after you cover them in the spelling you put them behind a "review" tab. Once you have a couple sets you shuffle them and begin to practice. With each new sound learned you shuffle them into the old cards and practice them in isolation till you are sure they are mastered and then you move them to the "mastered" tab.

Now I will try to deal with Ellie's points:


The Spalding Method is much more comprehensive than AAS. (WRTR is the manual for the Spalding Method.) It also involves all modalities more than AAS, which isn't an issue for all dc. Spalding covers everything your dc need to know for English skills: handwriting, spelling, reading, punctuation and capitalization, simple composition; it can teach more comprehensive grammar and composition if you want it to. And it's all in the one book, Writing Road to Reading (along with a couple of peripherals, which you buy once and use for all ages).


True AAS doesn't cover handwriting.

AAS does cover spelling and reading (new readers will be out starting in April, but the cards can be use read to practice reading without the readers).

AAS had dictation sentences the child writes, in early levels, then the child moves to making their own sentences in level 4 I think, so punctuation, capitalization and simple composition are also covered in AAS. This is also reinforced in the Key Cards (Key Cards also will cover spelling rules). Level one has a Key Card in which the child reviews that a name starts with a capital letter. You also practice alphabetizing in, review vowels and consonant definitions, and work on claping syllables in level 1 (I own the other levels but haven't used them yet. I know they cover more).

Beyond phonemic awareness the other thing SWR doesn't seem to cover is syllable rules. It does teach a child to break words into syllables, and some of the rules teach how vowels can be change sounds based on where they are at in the syllable, but it doesn't give the rules of syllables. In SWR you have to know how to pronounce the word before you can break it into syllables. In AAS it teaches the syllable rules, so a child can encounter a word and work through strategies to figure out how to break it into parts and pronounce it.

Last is that SWR expects a certain time commitment, more than I wanted to give with 4 students. With AAS people who do short sessions with lots of review are seeing good results. While the program prompts you to review at the beginning of each "step" which would be about once a week for my 7yo I review daily. She covers the key cards, then spells 5 words aloud (hard for her to do but it is helping her to visualize the word) and then read 10 words (to build reading fluency) then we do a part of a lesson. She tried SWR and by list 5 was convinced she was a horrible speller. She didn't get the "think to spell" precess where a word like of might be pronounced with a /o/ instead of a /u/ sound to remember how to spell it. The first 5 lists have a lot of those type of words (love, of, mother-and school was another tough one for her). AAS teaches that o can say /u/ so it solved the problem just by changing programs. SWR is a good program, my oldest two started it later and did fine with it (my 2nd dd spend a year leaning the phonograms before I started the spelling and my oldest was a natural speller), but for my 7yo it was way too much way to fast. I would have had to stop work on the phoograms for another year and then start it again, and I just wasn't up to it.

But the biggest difference for me is that AAS is much easier. I got my packaged, cut apart the cards (now they come perforated, so that is even easier now) and then it was open and go. I don't have to do any prep work or learning how to use it. They even have gray boxes where they give trouble shooting hints. It took me 6 months of covering the phonograms and reading SWR to be able to use the spelling part of the program. Now part of that is because the author is very detailed, and you don't find out HOW to do the spelling till page 70 something in the SWR manual. Being dyslexic myself I am a slow reader and it took forever for me to get there.

If you are talking if one is better than the other they are both good (or all three counting WRTR). But if you are talking ease of use I think AAS has the other two beat, but I can only speak for WRTR based on the amount of people who moved from it to SWR and thought SWR was easier. :001_huh:

I agree now that I know SWR it isn't that tough, the learning curve up front was the problem. Now it is the time commitment and pace that did work.

Heather



#19 razorbackmama

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 12:50 AM

You're supposed to tell them how to mark their spelling words, not have the dc figure it out :-)


I have been.:) They're getting all hung up on THAT part. Sort of a "can't see the forest for all the trees" sort of thing.

They have also been struggling with how WRTR has you pronounce things differently when you spell it or when you say it (specifically words ending in y that we would pronounce with a long E sound). They kept trying to correct me when I told them the sounds for the phonogram y, and then when I explained why, although they understood, I know that they thought it was pretty lame LOL. I have to admit, so do I.;)

Anyway...no, I'm not having my kids "figure out" how to mark them at all.

#20 Dee in MI

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 06:57 AM

This link helped me get my brain around it. I used WRTR to teach my son after failing with 100 easy lessons and Ordinary Parents guide. I think that for most kids either of those two programs would have been fine. And maybe it was just a matter of WRTR being the one that I was trying at the point that my son was ready to read. In any case, WRTR is what worked for us.

#21 OhElizabeth

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 09:41 AM

Just for clarity, I would like to say as someone who has used SWR for years, I didn't even recognize it the way Siloam described it, lol. SWR has a chapter on building phonemic awareness, including games and exercises to practice the skills. Almost all the things she described as doing in AAS, I've also heard SWR users do. In SWR we draw lines and mark the reason for the silent E. My dd never had an issue with syllable breaks, so the SWR explanations were enough for us. There are instructions for oral spelling and doing spelling bees. I've even heard of SWR users having their dc spelling the words BACKWARDS! The major difference between AAS and SWR is that AAS is an open and go format with clear plans (from what I can tell), where SWR is a series of tools (word list, enrichments to go with the word list, and a tm filled with ideas on how to teach it) that the teacher has to pull into their own lesson. Kids are all so different, and each program has its place. For some kids, the pacing of AAS would never fit. For some moms, the learning curve and having to decide how to teach it would make SWR impractical. But they're both very good programs.

As far as the /u/ sound for O, well I think WRTR teaches 4th sound, don't they? So there it's not distinct to AAS. People focus too much on the nuances. Look at the tools the programs give you and which is going to be the most practical for YOU to implement. SWR has tons of tools, but you have to be the magic and decide what you want to do each day and how to implement it. That's great if you have an accelerated student, someone who needs a different approach from standard, like doing things your own way, or where you want to toss everything to independent with the companion cd's. AAS is all spelled out (haha, spelled out), ready to go. SWR includes instructions for teaching reading, where it seems like people have commented that AAS isn't the best way to teach reading. (remediate spelling yes, teach reading no)

They're both good programs. WRTR, which I started with, is the forerunner of SWR. Think the negatives of SWR (plan your own lessons, etc.), but with less tools and perks. At the price point ($17 on amazon) it's great for the mom who feels comfortable doing her own thing and can turn a barebones program into just what she needs. (Yes I know there are now levels and more thorough plans for WRTR, but I haven't seen those. They'd have the potential drawbacks of all plans as far as fit, who they're designed for, etc.) They're all good programs and more similar than they are different. (conceptually similar, very different functionally) The things people are doing with AAS, they could have done with SWR or WRTR. It's just with AAS, you're gaining the wisdom of an experienced teacher and how she's tweaked it, turned it into lesson plans, and fleshed it out. If that's valuable to you, buy it. They're all good, just different.

There, keeper of the peace. :)

Edited by OhElizabeth, 15 March 2009 - 09:46 AM.


#22 pixeldog

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 09:48 AM

Very helpful, oh keeper of the peace! I like the idea of having a bag of tricks (ala SWR?) rather than a specific lesson plan.

Nancy in NC

#23 OhElizabeth

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 10:23 AM

Pixel, you have WRTR, a perfectly fine program, so why don't you start it and see what happens? You may not NEED any of these other things. WRTR fits your budget and it's what you have. People have used it happily for years. If it works for you and your dc, that's all that matters. You can find people who hate ANY program or kids it didn't fit. There's nothing wrong with WRTR, and your dc can learn how to read perfectly well with it. Use what you have before you buy anything else out of fear. That's the best way to not blow a lot of money: Use what you have. :)

Edited by OhElizabeth, 15 March 2009 - 10:25 AM.


#24 pixeldog

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 10:43 AM

Excellent advice, my friend. Will do!!!

Nancy

#25 mommyrooch

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 01:32 PM

Thanks to everyone, I'm still not sure what direction to go but at least I have a feel for WRTR and SWR. I am not good with planning lessons by myself so I am intimidated by that aspect of these programs. On the other hand, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get my daughter reading so I don't really know what to do. I have been using Hooked on Phonics and ETC up until now and my daughter has improved. I get discouraged but then I think of where she was just 6 months ago. She's definitely better than she was then. I've talked to many parents who say that their kids were late readers but read fine now. They assure me that just because my daughter is 7 and struggling with reading doesn't mean she has a learning disability. I wish I had all of the answers.

Jennifer

#26 siloam

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 05:13 PM

Just for clarity, I would like to say as someone who has used SWR for years, I didn't even recognize it the way Siloam described it, lol.


Really? Eeek! How would you describe it? I mean I know I didn't describe the spelling process that SWR uses. But the oganization differences. How SWR has lists not grouped by a specific sound and AAS does. And where SWR does not have lists grouped by specifc rules, and AAS does. That was what I was trying to get at.

SWR has a chapter on building phonemic awareness, including games and exercises to practice the skills.


Where!?! I have posted before (though not this time) that I wasn't 100% sure on that becuase I never made it all the way through the SWR book. I just have never seen where it had a child work on sounds without associating them with the letters that make that sounds. Just focused on the hearing sounds in words or nonsense words, or where it works on seeing if the child can tell when the same sound more than once. For example Barton will have a parent say /m/, /p/, /b/ and the child brings down 3 tiles of different colors to designate that their are three sounds. Then on the next one it has the parent say /m/, /p/, /m/ and the child would pull down 3 tiles, but the first and the last would be the same color to show that they were the same sound. In AAS they have the parent say a word, and the child bring down a colored tile for each sound. To be honest many kids don't need to cover this step, but often dyslexic and other LD kids do. They just don't hear the different sounds right off.

Almost all the things she described as doing in AAS, I've also heard SWR users do. In SWR we draw lines and mark the reason for the silent E. My dd never had an issue with syllable breaks, so the SWR explanations were enough for us. There are instructions for oral spelling and doing spelling bees. I've even heard of SWR users having their dc spelling the words BACKWARDS!


Ok I am confused. I think I am not understanding you or you are not understanding me, but we will get there. AAS doesn't do ANY mark up of words like SWR. Obviously you can add it, but it isn't anywhere in the program. In AAS they make a silent e booklet, I haven't looked at it yet so I have no idea what it entails (so helpful am I). Most of the visual clues in AAS are the colored tiles, though they do have a few other things for special situations.

I didn't communicate very well what it was about the oral spelling and such that worked for us in AAS, but didn't in SWR. It isn't about oral spelling or not. It is how the review is handled that clicked. Though it is a concept that is so simple it would be easily used with SWR. Let me back up, my oldest on on list P in SWR, she just made it to P last year too, and this year when we went back and reviewed she got the same words wrong (this really bummed her out). Now I did mark them and we have done extra work with them (as we did last year), but we both fear next year will have the same results. With AAS you have a card for each word, so you keep it in a review file for as long as you need to and without having to keep track of a list, or flip through the WISE guide. Then even after you have put a word under mastered you are told to still review those once in a while, so you have a chance for a trouble word to pop back up and a chance to master it again, before waiting a whole year. With SWR I found it difficult to manage problem words long term. Now that I am familiar with AAS methods I would simply make a card for a word she missed, so we could use the same review type system, but in the end she decided she wanted to move to AAS. Like me the card aspect, having more control over the words built into the program captured her imagination. While I am sure other people who have used SWR have done a better job of tracking and mastering problem words than I did (having 3 students doesn't help-there is a lot to keep track of), it was just another point where SWR was a challenge for me to implement.


The major difference between AAS and SWR is that AAS is an open and go format with clear plans (from what I can tell), where SWR is a series of tools (word list, enrichments to go with the word list, and a tm filled with ideas on how to teach it) that the teacher has to pull into their own lesson. Kids are all so different, and each program has its place. For some kids, the pacing of AAS would never fit. For some moms, the learning curve and having to decide how to teach it would make SWR impractical. But they're both very good programs.


Agreed, SWR is a great program. I learned a ton with it.

As far as the /u/ sound for O, well I think WRTR teaches 4th sound, don't they? So there it's not distinct to AAS. People focus too much on the nuances. Look at the tools the programs give you and which is going to be the most practical for YOU to implement.


Actually the point I was trying to make here was not about the nuances. It is that I think it is inappropriate to have so many words that are difficult for young children that early on in the program. There are actually 2 or 3 more differences in how the phonograms are taught that I didn't list, because like you I don't think they are that big a deal. My dd was in tears over SWR daily because she couldn't remember how these words were spelled and she would instead spell them phonetically. I think kids need to ease into the program, so if I could improve SWR I would have a separate pre-list for younger kids to work on that was easier with less think to spell words, and that didn't introduce both long and short vowels in list 1, and diphthongs in list 2, but instead covered one sound at a time before it jumped in with both feet. For older kids where SWR starts is fine, which is why my older girls never had a problem with SWR. I know your dd was young when you did SWR and she did fine with it, so I do realize that there are exceptions. I just think in general most young kids would benefit from a slower pace, even if they could handle the faster one.

AAS is all spelled out (haha, spelled out), ready to go.


Good one! :D

SWR includes instructions for teaching reading, where it seems like people have commented that AAS isn't the best way to teach reading. (remediate spelling yes, teach reading no)


Actually most the people I know who would say AAS can't be used to teach reading would also say the same of SWR. They are fans of traditional horizontal phonics.

This is actually a pet peeve of mine. Mostly because I think it was learning the phonograms in SWR that helped my dyslexic child read. She could spell fine, hearing a sound and associating a letter to it was not a problem, but go the other way and give her a letter and ask her to associate a sound to it? She would blank. Couldn't remember the sound if her life depended on it. We started covering the SWR phonograms daily and that is when she started making progress in being able to blend. I am told all the time that this is a bad way to teach phonics because it is too confusing for the child. Sigh....

I personally think AAS is fine for teaching to read. The pace of level 1 is very close to SL LA 1, so I am going to do both SL LA 1 and AAS in concert to teach my ds to read. By then AAS should have the readers out, so we will be good to go. There are also several other people on the AAS forums who are using it to teach reading. I think the biggest thing the parent using AAS to teach reading would need to do is review a lot (more than designated in the program), and to really watch the pace. Feel free to stop and spend a whole week on review to let the child absorb the concepts.

Oh, she does have plans for a pre-reading level that works on learning the pronograms at a slower pace.

In the end I am not selling my SWR yet either. It has worked great for my older two, who both spell above grade level. I probably would have never switched if my 7yo hadn't had such a hard time with the early spelling lists in SWR.

Heather


#27 OhElizabeth

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 11:19 PM

Siloam--My SWR manual is an older edition, so the page numbers may be different. I looked it up, and the info I was thinking of is in steps 2 and 5.

#28 Mary in WA

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 11:52 PM

Besides Alpha Phonics, you might want to try McGuffey's Readers. We taught several of our children how to read using the Primer book. My daughter has taught her four year old to read well with it. At the top of each page it lists the sounds of the letters and new words to learn. You help your child sound those out and then you can teach.

We did page 1 on day one.. pages 1 and 2 on day two... pages 1,2, and 3 on day three... pages 1, 2, 3, and 4, on day four. Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on day five....

They feel encouraged that they can easily read the ones they have already done... By day six, we drop off page 1, so each day that we do reading (maybe 3 times a week), we have dropped off one page and added one, so the total number of pages is only 5 a day.

About $8 a year.

Only drawback are some dated words like Nag for horse. But it is not a problem for the early reader. My own children are grown.. military officers, astrophysicist, and homeschooling parents too.

Just words from a grandma, retired homeschooler.

#29 NayfiesMama

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 12:05 AM

Hey There,

We have a very old manual that my mom used with WRTR from 25 years ago, and I purchased a new WRTR to see the difference. I have the phonograms from WRTR and really like the cards from the Cursive First. (SWR offers these) My son started doing phonograms late last year...not every day...but once or twice a week. We do both sets (manuscript and cursive) and he was 5 1/2 in January. He can read all words with one letter phonograms (the ones we've studied most) and words with "sh" and "ck" and ee. What I do, is if we're reading, I read the two letter phonograms...and then he says it...and then starts in with the word. LIKE...if he saw the word "ship" (before he knew the "sh" sound) I'd say..."sh" and then he'd finish with saying the word..."sh...i..p" He's actually very fast at sounding out the word...so I can't even hear him...and saying the word.

For us, it's working. A little at a time. Next year, I'll have him start doing more of the written work. He's not really ready to write a ton... So..we've modified it to fit us where we are.

#30 Heidi7Sue

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 06:03 AM

I'll just add my two cents that we are using SWR, and while it isn't perfect, it's working for us (dd is 5.5 and can read short books on her own). It can definitely hurt your brain when you're trying to understand it at the beginning, but as another poster said, it gets better, and isn't horribly time-consuming once you understand it.:iagree:

We also didn't use it the way you're supposed to this last year, because dd is in Kindergarten this year, and the program requires more writing than dd was up for. I didn't want to hold up learning to read just because she couldn't do all that writing work. I just used the aspects of it that have to do with learning to read, and skipped the writing and spelling. I plan to use it as Sanseri intended next year, since dd now loves to write.

A friend of mine likes Phonics Pathways, which sound similar to AAS. Like AAS, it has kids learning to read lists of words that are grouped according to spelling rules. And it's less than $20, if I recall correctly.

#31 OhElizabeth

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:38 AM

Ha, now there's something *I* have bad memories of, the McGuffey Readers!!! I know some people use them and like them, but I just remember being pulled off into small groups and forced to read sentences from them. Bad memories. As an adult, they look cute and harmless to me, so it must have been something about how they were teaching them! :)

#32 Ellie

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:45 AM

Thanks to everyone, I'm still not sure what direction to go but at least I have a feel for WRTR and SWR. I am not good with planning lessons by myself so I am intimidated by that aspect of these programs. On the other hand, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get my daughter reading so I don't really know what to do. I have been using Hooked on Phonics and ETC up until now and my daughter has improved. I get discouraged but then I think of where she was just 6 months ago. She's definitely better than she was then. I've talked to many parents who say that their kids were late readers but read fine now. They assure me that just because my daughter is 7 and struggling with reading doesn't mean she has a learning disability. I wish I had all of the answers.

Jennifer

Well, really, there's no lesson planning with Spalding. Depending on how old your dc are, you teach new phonograms/review previously taught phonograms, and dictate spelling words to the dc. No biggie. The biggie is the study on your part ahead of time to learn how to teach Spalding.

And listen...my younger dd was 9½ before she was reading at her age level. Now that she's over 30yo you would never know that :-)

#33 kalanamak

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:52 AM





SWR tends to be time intensive.


Yes, and the book screams for an editor. I went through the book and first put a light red slash through every paragraph I didn't need to read (the author is CHATTY, but that might be what some people like). Once I started to work through it, I realized how trained I had become, and now as we go about our day, I can point out something like "there is an ou that says /u/ as in famous" and kiddo has learned a lot of these quotes, too. I had NO phonics training as a child, and I need the program to become the kind of teacher I want to become. YMMV.

I don't know if AAS has dictation of lists, but kiddo is durned proud of his and really, really buckles down and concentrates to get a page done perfectly.

#34 Colleen in NS

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 10:23 AM

Well, really, there's no lesson planning with Spalding. Depending on how old your dc are, you teach new phonograms/review previously taught phonograms, and dictate spelling words to the dc. No biggie. The biggie is the study on your part ahead of time to learn how to teach Spalding.


:iagree:

The studying to learn how to teach it was the hardest part for me. But once I understood it, I found teaching it AND adapting it to each child to be a breeze. I taught kids other than my own with the Spalding method, too. (just how-to-read and spelling, not the writing part)

You probably just have to figure out which program appeals to you most and why it does, and then dedicate yourself to learning how to teach it.

#35 OhElizabeth

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:09 AM

The planning comes if your dc need more review, learn better with games, etc. Not everybody has spelling stick with one time through a word.

#36 siloam

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:10 AM

Siloam--My SWR manual is an older edition, so the page numbers may be different. I looked it up, and the info I was thinking of is in steps 2 and 5.


Found it! I will have to find time to read it this week. I had a feeling it was one of those things I missed, and I have read that section, it just didn't sink in. She is so detailed that I quickly become overloaded and can't absorb all that she is writing. I am stuck pondering the first thing while I try to continue reading more, and my brain just doesn't work that way. I really needs just one thing at a time.:001_huh:

The other major benefit of SWR that AAS doesn't have is the sentences. AAS only has them for the homophones. I have been pulling them out of SWR and writing them on my AAS cards at night while I watch TV.

Heather



#37 Ellie

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:54 AM

Ellie, Although SWR was not developed and copyrighted by Spalding , it most certainly is based on Spalding methods, so I would call it a "Spalding" program.But yes, it is Wanda Sanseri's program,not something copyrighted and developed by Spalding. But she designed it based on her knowlege of Spalding in order to make it more useable by parents.

Mrs. Sanseri studied under Romalda Spalding the author of the Writing Road to Reading.

We are really only talking semantics here and copyright laws. Not methodology of phonics programs.

Here's a quote from Wanda Sanseri's website ." Aware of her own limitations and inadequacies, she never dreamed that one day she would write a curriculum inspired by Mrs. Spalding's book, The Writing Road to Reading, and train educators coast to coast in phonics."
Another quote from Wanda Sanseri's website.." God provided the unexpected opportunity for her to study under experts like Romalda Spalding. She discovered a consistent, scientific way to teach language skills and watched her firstborn son flourish under her instruction."
Also, I will say that I have heard Wanda Sanseri say from her own mouth that she studied under Romalda Spalding.
I don't know why you would say , Ellie, that SWR is not a Spalding program. Unless you mean that technically it was not written or copyrighted by Spalding. But it certainly uses Spalding methods.

http://www.bhibooks.net/about.html

Spalding Education International would beg to differ with you. That Wanda Sanseri studied under Romalda Spalding does not mean that SWR is Spalding. "Uses Spalding methods" is not the same as *being* Spalding. There is only one Spalding Method, the manual for which is the Writing Road to Reading.

I don't understand why this is a problem for you. Why can't SWR be its own method, with similarities to Spalding? I didn't say that SWR isn't good, that many dc learn to read and spell with it. I only said that it is not Spalding.

:confused::confused::confused:

#38 OhElizabeth

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 12:20 PM

Siloam, well good, glad that was helpful! I'm sure it's not exactly like what you've been studying with that Barton technique and stuff. That was interesting to hear about it. Seems like each time a creative teacher gets a hold of these concepts, they find new ways to teach them! And if you already know those techniques, it's nice to know you can bring them into SWR. Do you do the finger spelling with SWR? The way she explains it, using separate hands for separate syllables and fingers for each sound (multiple fingers go up with a multi-letter phonogram), is not dissimilar to what you're doing with cards and colors. I like the addition of the color though, which sounds great for visual learners!

Sanseri seems to imply twice through the lists will cement words for the average dc. With my dd, I went through many lists *3* and STILL words didn't stick. She understood the approach, but that didn't make words stick. Usage in context, through dictation has made a big difference. Also, this Spelling Works! workbook (reproducible) by Halverson has turned out to be really great, highly recommend. It's written for 4th-6th graders, so the content is age-appropriate and intriguing. It spends a lot of time discriminating things they think they already know (plurals, homophones, etc.) in new settings. It has really gotten my dd to think! Might be something for your oldest to do next year. Just a thought, as we've really enjoyed it.

#39 LisainVirginia

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 01:29 PM

I've been researching SWR, WRTR, AAS, and other weird acronyms in my search for a phonics/language arts program for our first year of homeschooling. I briefly looked at the OPGR (or whatever its acronym is) in the bookstore and it seemed to have a similar approach. (I'm sure many would beg to differ, but I'm talking about at the very highest level - that it introduces letters/sounds one at a time in a systematic way to teach reading.)

In searching the message archives for info on these programs, it seems no one mentions OPGR very much. Does anyone have experience with it vs. WRTR or AAS or other Spalding/Sanseri methods? Any pros/cons to share? I understand that it doesn't teach writing as WRTR does (and as its name promises) but I'm wondering what other differences there are.

Thanks!

#40 pixeldog

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 03:20 PM

When teaching early readers with these methods, do you wait until they've been introduced to all the phonograms and then let them read, or do you use "readers"? I have "readers" from Starfall and have seen "readers" in the library (leveled by grade or just a number). I'm confused by it all....

Nancy in NC

#41 Colleen in NS

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:03 PM

The planning comes if your dc need more review, learn better with games, etc. Not everybody has spelling stick with one time through a word.


By "planning," do you mean planning other activities besides the spelling/reading program? I haven't found the need to plan extra WRTR work. I have one child who hasn't had an easy time with spelling. We start over and over (and I don't do it very methodically, I just go back to where the words are easy for her and begin again). But I don't actually have to plan more of WRTR, I just take 5 minutes to find a good starting over spot in the WRTR list.

In searching the message archives for info on these programs, it seems no one mentions OPGR very much.


Hopefully someone else can write up some comparisons for you, but I just want to mention that these boards go in cycles. Sometimes people talk a lot about WRTR, sometimes it's SWR, then AAS, then something else, then OPGTR. There ARE people who use OPGTR. And I think all these programs have their merits and downfalls. Have you tried searching the archives for OPGTR or Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading? Hopefully you'll turn up more reviews that way.

Good luck and enjoy planning your new adventure!

When teaching early readers with these methods, do you wait until they've been introduced to all the phonograms and then let them read, or do you use "readers"? I have "readers" from Starfall and have seen "readers" in the library (leveled by grade or just a number). I'm confused by it all....

Nancy in NC


It depends on the child.

With ds, he learned the phonograms pretty much by himself by reading the cards and listening to the phonogram sounds on tape. Then he picked up a children's dictionary and started sounding out words.

With dd, I had to teach her. I started out by teaching her the sounds on the cards, a few at a time, with lots of review. I don't remember her picking up a book and trying to sound out words for fun.:) We just went over and over them, and then I tried having her sound out words here and there. Then I tried having her read some simple Dr. Seuss books. It was very slow, but I just had her do a bit each day. Maybe a page with 1 or 2 sentences. Then we'd review phonogram sounds again. Then we'd practice again with Dr. Seuss. I just basically tried to find different books that had very simple sentences. I didn't pay attention to whether or not a book was called a "reader" or whether or not it had a level assigned to it. I looked at the sentences in the book, and decided whether or not dd might have some success with it. Simple Dr. Seuss worked, and we also used some Mouse Tales books. I can't remember what else - I just hunted in the library book shelves a lot. And so we went back and forth between reviewing phonogram sounds and trying to read after I thought she knew a good number of sounds well enough. Then she'd forget and we'd review again. At age 8 now, she remembers most of the sounds, but still asks me during a spelling lesson if she can't remember one. But in reading, she is pretty good now at sounding out new words.

#42 OhElizabeth

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:42 PM

Amen on the cycles thing! That's exactly what I was going to respond.

#43 jellogirl

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 07:54 PM

I apologize for butting in here, but WRTR is a great spelling program. Yes, it is complicated to get started with, but it taught me to spell and I know firsthand its value.

Reading Works is a great guide to WRTR, breaking it down into manageable project. http://www.theworkspeople.com/

#44 pixeldog

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 09:17 PM

Thanks, this thread has really met my needs (even ones I didn't know I had). Reading is so important, I just want to be sure to do it well so that my son will enjoy it. In some ways it seems to be one of the most important things I'll help him with. So many different choices....we picked up where we left off weeks ago in 100 Easy Lessons today and he said "I like this, it's fun!" Hooray!!

Nancy in NC

#45 mommyrooch

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:10 PM

Ellie,

Thank you for the encouragement. I've also been told by many others that just because my daughter isn't reading well by 7 doesn't mean that she won't eventually "get it". They assure me that some kids just take longer than others. I hope that's true for my daughter. I'm just trying to do all I can to ensure that she does get there.

Jennifer

#46 Targhee

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:39 AM

I've looked at both the Spell to Read and Write program and the Writing Road to Reading.
Has anyone used either of these and if so do you recommend it. How easy is it to teach?

I borrowed WRTR from the library, and read the book. Then I tried to figure out what a lesson might look like. It is not very straight forward - I think they need someone to teach the author about technical writing if the book is meant to be an instructional tool and not just a philisophical tretise.
I sat in an impromptu teaching session with Sanseri at the HS conference 2 years ago. She was going through what a typical SWR lesson would be like for me and another mom. I was very anxious to find a program that would lead to good spelling because I myself am not a good speller. The session with Sanseri completely turned me off. BORING!
I also sat in The Phonics Road to Reading and Spelling (similar program). OVERKILL!

Has it proved effective for any of your children?

I didn't use any of these methods because they all required a student who was ready to write. My DD loathes to write. It is physically taxing (not a grip issue, a fine motor development issue). She was ready to learn to read, but no where near ready to write in the way these programs required. So, I decided just to do reading and come back to spelling later. She did really well with 100EZ and now we're going to tackle spelling. I'm actually looking at AAS.

I wish I could recommend the perfect reading program for your child, but I can only say that these programs weren't a match for us. I hope you find something that will work :001_smile:




Spalding Education International would beg to differ with you. That Wanda Sanseri studied under Romalda Spalding does not mean that SWR is Spalding. "Uses Spalding methods" is not the same as *being* Spalding.


Spalding was a student of Orton-Gillingham, Sanseri was a student of Spalding. So, if it's worth the argument :confused:, both WRTR and SWR are off-shoots of Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction.


#47 Peek a Boo

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 03:15 AM

Once I started to work through it, I realized how trained I had become, and now as we go about our day, I can point out something like "there is an ou that says /u/ as in famous" ..... I had NO phonics training as a child, and I need the program to become the kind of teacher I want to become. YMMV.


The studying to learn how to teach it was the hardest part for me. But once I understood it, I found teaching it AND adapting it to each child to be a breeze.



[FONT="Comic Sans MS"]....I have read that section, it just didn't sink in. She is so detailed that I quickly become overloaded and can't absorb all that she is writing. I am stuck pondering the first thing while I try to continue reading more, and my brain just doesn't work that way. I really needs just one thing at a time.


I agree with all the above-- there is DEFINITELY a learning curve in learning to teach Spalding/ SWR/ O-G. It really does require you reading through it a few times --there is So. Much. Info in it!! however, I have found that info to be instrumental in being a more efficient teacher. i would recommend having at least the SWR book as a resource manual, even if you never use the system itself.

i do NOT use SWR as intended. I have read that book thrice now, attended a SWR seminar AND a SWR advanced class practicum [and will attend another, finances available], but the specifics just aren't for my family. I do however find myself being able to explain things and demonstrate things better. It is sooo easy to sit down and mark a BOB Book or A Beka's Handbook for Reading or any other book we're reading and apply SWR methods to the words.


I borrowed WRTR from the library, and read the book. Then I tried to figure out what a lesson might look like. It is not very straight forward - I think they need someone to teach the author about technical writing if the book is meant to be an instructional tool and not just a philisophical tretise.


I too borrowed WRTR from the library. I had kinda been following the discussions about SWR on The Old Board, then saw that it was an offshoot of WRTR and that i could get WRTR at the library so off i went to check it out. I immediately fell in love w/ the concept, and wanted to see SWR in person now that I knew it was somehow related to WRTR. I was able to get SWR used for $40 w/in a couple weeks [talk about timing, lol!]. I describe SWR as "WRTR on steroids" --Sanseri IS definitely chatty! I found it interesting to see your comment about WRTR technical writing vs philosophy -i came away w/ the impression that it was TOO technical and dry ;)


Spalding was a student of Orton-Gillingham, Sanseri was a student of Spalding. So, if it's worth the argument :confused:, both WRTR and SWR are off-shoots of Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction.


yeah :)
They all employ a similar method.
But Ellie's a die-hard Spalding fanatic,
so you'll need to cut her a little slack :D
She's worth it - i promise!
:grouphug:

#48 Colleen in NS

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 06:55 AM

In some ways it seems to be one of the most important things I'll help him with.


It is. And it seems freaky to read about so many different reading programs, but most (all?) of the ones mentioned here seem to have good reputations for teaching methodically by sounds. The programs are supposed to help the teacher to teach, so if the one you have is one you are willing to understand and use, then go for it!!:hurray: Then you'll figure out along the way where you need to adapt it, and where to add in some kind of supplemental activity if needed. I like how Jessie Wise writes in WTM that teaching reading is easy.....teaching reading is easy.....teaching reading is easy.....it gave me comfort.:D

They assure me that some kids just take longer than others. I hope that's true for my daughter. I'm just trying to do all I can to ensure that she does get there.


If you are doing all you can do, then she will get there. Have confidence in your love for your daughter - it'll lead you to find ways to help her.:D

My dd is almost 8 1/2, and she is just now fairly comfortable with reading on her own.

#49 Colleen in NS

Colleen in NS

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:14 AM

I borrowed WRTR from the library, and read the book. Then I tried to figure out what a lesson might look like. It is not very straight forward - I think they need someone to teach the author about technical writing if the book is meant to be an instructional tool and not just a philisophical tretise.


What version did you borrow? The older ones (red cover, blue cover) are more philosophical, while the 5th edition (white) is more technical. I hear there are also teaching guides available now, too.

But Ellie's a die-hard Spalding fanatic,
so you'll need to cut her a little slack :D
She's worth it - i promise!


Ellie's awesome.:D Her exact explanations of WRTR over the years have clarified my thinking, for sure!

#50 OhElizabeth

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:58 AM

Jennifer, I know this is different than some of the advice you may have received, but I'd like to post for you part of a thread, which you can view the entirety of, that might be helpful to you. http://www.welltrain...ng test special

Laurie's Open Letter Part 1

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This is an appeal from the heart to my sisters and brothers in the homeschooling community. Many children and families in the homeschooling community are needlessly suffering because of some of our widely accepted beliefs that are closer to myth than to reality. The children that I ache for are those with learning problems. You may prefer to call them learning differences or disabilities, but these are kids who are not learning at the expected level for their age group even with adequate instruction. The advice often given by the homeschooling community when the mother or father begins to search for answers can lead to heartache.

To simplify, I d like to use the analogy of a cake recipe. Often there are variations that change the flavor of a basic recipe. To keep this simple, the gender of the parent will be female, and the child male.

The basic recipe calls for:

One child, somewhere around the age of 5-6 eager to learn. Unbeknownst to anyone, he has specific learning disabilities.

One homeschooling mom, wanting to provide the very best in education for her child, eagerly looking for curriculum suggestions, reading books, optimistic about what she can provide. Like every loving parent, she wants her child to be normal and it will be sorrowful to her to find that her child has an actual problem, that he is not just like other kids.

Please note: mom and student are the same in either variation. It s the way the homeschooling community responds that changes the outcome of the cake.

Variation 1: Heartbreak cake

Once the mother begins to notice, or even intuit problems, she begins to ask around for help. This particular cake calls for a homeschooling community that will add the following:

2 scoops of advice such as better late than early, or many kids don t click till age 10-11

1 cup of mistrust of professionals; for those who like a less spicy version, this can be the do-it-yourself-ism that is a strength at times of homeschooling;for a spicier version, add fear that that CPS will end up involved if you pursue help

Make sure the homeschool community bowl is free of any oil of early warning signs of learning disabilities. Even a small pinch of this can result in celebration cake instead (see below)

7 teaspoons of encouragement to switch curriculum as the answer

If the batter begins to bubble, continue adding reassurances that her kid will eventually get it and be just fine; if that still doesn t work, add a few more tsps. of encouragement to switch curriculum

Add one scoop of fear of formal labeling. Natural labeling will occur as the cake bakes over the next few years. (Choice of flavors is typically determined by the child; most common variety is stupid )

Bake another 4-6 years or longer if desired, until age 10-12 or longer, waiting for the click.

If there is no click, you ll have heartbreak cake: a child who has labeled himself stupid, bad, and /or weird and who feels so bad about himself that the original LD is no longer the major problem; a child who may have passed the optimal window for remediation; or who has given up. This cake will likely be glazed by deep parental guilt. * (Note: if you ve baked this cake and didn t mean to, good news at the end. I am in no way condemning you as the parent. I am trying to prevent other heartbreak cakes.)

Variation 2 : Celebration cake:

To the same basic recipe, as the mother begins to notice, or even intuit problems, and begins to ask around for help, this cake calls for a homeschooling community that will add the following:

10 scoops of affirmation to trust your own sense of things as a mother and teacher that something is wrong, even if you can t put your finger on it

1 scoop of information about early red flags of learning disabilities

3 cups of networking about effective therapies and strategies

2 spoonfuls of encouragement that seeking help is not a sign of failure, and that professionals can be a homeschoolers best friend

No traces of better late than early or late bloomer myths oil in the bowl; this can cause celebration cake to not peak to its highest potential and to revert to heartbreak cake.

If you see traces of the myth oil above, add one Pascal s wager: if there is nothing wrong, and you get an evaluation, you will have wasted only time and money, and gotten some reassurance. If there are specific learning disabilities present, and you wait till it clicks, you cannot give your child back those lost years, your child will likely have emotional repercussions, you may well have missed the best window of opportunity for remediation, and your child s future may be negatively impacted. Which is riskier?

If fear of labeling begins to emerge in the batter, add 1 scoop of reality: if your child is different, he will be labeled, by himself and his peers, at least. His labels will be stupid, bad , and/or weird . Adults may throw in lazy or disobedient . The formal labels of learning disability, sensory integration, Asperger s etc. explain what is happening, help the child know he isn t uniquely defective and help you identify strategies.

(((hugs))) to a parent who may be facing the grief of acknowledging that her child is not normal

Baking time: no longer than age 7 to begin the process of seeking help; bake for shorter period if problems show up in preschool; after this initial period, turn the heat down slightly and bake as long as it takes, using all the strategies gathered formally and informally, professional help and whatever else it takes

Voila! Celebration cake! A child who would have struggled through life under other circumstances, but who in the very special oven of homeschooling has had his strengths emphasized, and his education tailored specifically to him. He may have totally overcome his learning disabilities, or he may have been helped to learn effective strategies to navigate around them.

Some notes: Following the notes are some early warning signs


If you are a parent reading this, and you realize that you have a heartbreak cake on your hands, I know that you will grieve. Please don t spend a lot of time in guilt. There is still much that can be done. I believe in a God who can redeem even our mistakes and make something beautiful happen. But if you ve got a child who is 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 . and you are just realizing that there is not going to be the magic click run, don t walk, to get help. Please get an evaluation, and if you are starting this process at this point, consider some professional tutoring or coaching to help you get things on track.
A book that you will find encouraging: One Mind at a Time by Mel Levine. Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz is another that is helpful, but you ll have to ignore her belief that only professionals can help a child learn to read. Please also consider putting the energy that you might have put into guilt into preventing this from happening to other families.

If you are a parent beginning to teach a child to read, check out Overcoming Dyslexia from your library. I think it should have been better titled, Preventing Reading Problems. It will have some useful information for you, too.

If you are a parent reading this, and you sense you could have heartbreak cake in the making, please get some help. Here are some places to start:

Where to go for help: Post on the special needs board; you ll find the moms and some professionals who post there very helpful. If you suspect something on the autism spectrum, developmental disabilities, or something very unusual, see if there is a Center for Development and Learning near you. These are often associated with teaching hospitals, and can be one stop shops. If your child demonstrates oversensitivity, stimulus seeking, fine motor skills problems, and/or physical clumsiness, go to an occupational therapist. Problems in speech and language, or for young children having problems with rhyme, see a Speech and Language Pathologist. Learning disability: some psychologists, reading specialists, educational evaluators all can do some of the relevant testing. For reading disabilities, getting an individual achievement test such as the Woodcock Johnson, or Woodcock Reading Mastery Test should be in the $75 range, and give you some good information. The public school system provides free testing for children not yet of school age. I believe it is up to the state or in some states, local districts, as to whether they will test school age children who don t attend. I ll post a link of relevant federal law that also includes a list of advocacy organizations by state.

cont.


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