Reading Instruction and Research

Welcome from Don Potter

This page has grown since early 2003, when it was first launched, as my research into reading and reading instructions has grown. Although the page has grown to be rather long, I trust that the rich information I have been able to acquire over the years will prove highly beneficial to parents, teachers, researchers, and administrators responsible for reading instruction. 


IMG_1793

Don reading Charles Major's exciting 1908 adventure story

 Uncle Tom Andy Bill


"An overwhelming body of evidence supports the belief that whether children learn to read, and how easily they learn to read, is largely dependent on the method by which they are taught. Reading programs that deemphasize the connection between letters and speech-sounds that letters represent nurture faulty reading; then, children who fail in such programs are labeled dyslexic with the assumption they are not able to learn to read."  Dr. Patrick Groff 


DOWNLOAD AND READ HISTORIC ARTICLES by Samuel L. Blumenfeld

Can Dyslexia Be Artificially Induced in School? Yes, Says Researcher Edward Miller


 In March of 1992, Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld published the above breakthrough article on whole-word dyslexia featuring the work of Mr. Edward Miller, the author of The Sight Word Eliminator and the Miller Word Identification Assessment (MWIA). Here is Mr. Blumenfeld’s Dyslexia article in Spanish. Here is my YouTube clip explaining the MWIA. Here is my March 2012 revision for those who prefer a 100% Dolch version of the Holistic Words. MWIA Revised.

In 1993 Mr. Blumenfeld wrote "Further Investigation" regarding Mr. Miller's later research.  

The Massive Impact of Literacy on the Brain and Its Consequences for Education (2011) by Stanislas Dehaene. A concise presentation of recent research supporting the wisdom of our long-held advocacy for strong phonics first instruction. 

Professor William C. McMahon, of Danbury State College spoke on this very issue back in 1965: The McHahon Syndrome

Here is another thought provoking article by Dr. Blumenfeld: Miscue Analysis: Training Normal Children to Read Like Defective Children. For more information on "Miscue Analysis" read: Critique of Miscue Analysis by Hempenstall

Twenty Years After Rudolf Flesch: Are the New Basal Reading Programs Doing the Job (1975)

Here is a article Dr. Blumenfeld sent me (6/06/05): How to Cure Dyslexia

You can read more of Sam's insights from this file: The New Illiterates - Quotes

In March 2009, Mr. Blumenfeld sent me his eye-opening 1988 article, Dyslexia: The Disease You Get in School

Purchase Blumenfeld's Alpha-Phonics (2005) from Chalcedon Ross House Books, P. O. 158, Vallecito, CA 95251-9989. Price $25.00 plus shipping and handling. 209-736-4365, ext. 12. By email: chorders@goldrush.com. www.chalcedonstore.com. Or just click on the title above.  I have published Mr. Blumenfeld's decodable readers as First Readers Anthology

Here is an important speech Mr. Blumenfeld delivered at the 1974 Reading Reform Foundation convention: Why America Still Has a Reading Problem

Here is an important speech Mr. Blumenfeld delivered at the 1975 Reading Reform Foundation Convention: Letter Precision

Here is a recent article (2008) Sam sent me "Why Pictures in Reading Instruction Are Harmful."  Also read this research project on Pictures. Here is J. Samuel's, Jean Spiroff and Harry Singer's 1974 article "Effects of Pictures and Contextual Conditions on Learning to Read."  

"How Should We Teach our Children to Write? Cursive First, Print Later!

Dr. Blumenfeld's insight is basic: "When you impose an ideographic teaching technique on an alphabetic writing system you get a reading disability. By eliminating the sense of sound from the reading process, one is breaking the crucial link between the alphabetically written word and its spoken equivalent. Also, using sound symbols as ideographic symbols, one creates symbolic confusion." I like to say, "Using a sight-associational method to teach a sound-associational system creates associational confusion.

Here are some speeches by Dr. Blumenfeld: Why Teaching Phonics is Essential for Christian EducationPhonics vs. Look-Say

Here is an article by Dr. Blumenfeld's good friend, Watson Washburn, "The Disintegration of Our School System." 

A Proposal for a Phonics-First Framework for the Diagnosis and Teaching of Educational Factor

(2012) by Donald L. Potter. A document that I have been working on for some time concerning the dangers of teaching sight-words by whole-word memorization. 

 Click here for my You Tube Videos: DonLPotter.  I highly recommend Bruce Price's education clips.

MAJOR PUBLISHING EVENT

I am proud to publish a major new work by Mr. Harry Hattyar, Illiteracy in America: Understanding and Resolving a Grave National Problem. This comprehensive work is thoroughly researched and entirely up to date. On 3/5/07, Mr Hattyar send me a pdf document of his Easy Steps to Reading for free download. A major feature of this new work is the plethora of decodable stories. For those who prefer the convenience of a spiral bound printed edition, you can purchase it from Amazon: Easy Steps to Reading. Another book by Harry: The Primal Code

Download Free Phonics Programs (Programs from Don Potter)

FREE DOWNLOAD: Word Mastery: A Course in Phonics for the First Three Grades by Florence Akin, published in 1913. Here is perhaps the finest phonics program ever published. I retyped it (12/20/04) in large type on a standard 8 1/2" x 11" page, perfect for making transparencies. Be sure and read my "Note" at the end of the book. Here is an alphabetical list of all the words in the book: Word Analysis. This phonogram method is especially good for self-teaching because it relies more on simple phonics patterns than complicated phonics rules. Gene Roth of Arizona sent me Akin's earlier 1908 phonics book, A First Book in Phonics: Pages , 12-2425-35. It is a cute little book, but not nearly as comprehensive as Word Mastery. GoogleBook has made available a good copy of Word Mastery. You can compare my typed edition with this scanned edition. The print in my book is much larger. Cheryl Lowe of Memoria Press has recently published a nice paperback revision that I am happy to recommend: Classical Phonics. On July 3, 2014 I published a beautiful, large print paperback edition of Word Mastery. I have have also started a website: www.wordmastery.org. Ariel Gunther recently published a modern 2 volume adaptation of Word Mastery: Foundational Phonics. Here is audio instruction anyone can use to Teach Yourself to Read with Word Mastery.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics for First Grade (1980) by Hazel Loring. Here is the easiest method for teaching beginning reading that I have seen anywhere. This little booklet will show any first grade teacher how to teach all children to read in four short months. It is also good for remedial reading instruction for any age.  For a stirring recommendation of Loring's method, see the article by Robert Sweet Jr.: The Century of Miseducation of American Teachers. More information is available at www.blendphonics.org. Here is a YouTube Blend Phonics Video Clip. In March of 2015, I published Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics in an inexpensive paperback for those who prefer the program in a convenient book format. The program is also available with stories: Blend Phonics Lessons and Stories

FREE DOWNLOAD: Noah Webster 1824 American Spelling Book. This is my "Easy-to-Read, No-Frills" edition (2/3/07). Of all the powerful phonics-first methods offered on this website, this method remains the finest ever published. It is equally good for beginning or advanced readers - from kindergarten through college. I personally use my edition for advanced phonics. It is power is something to behold! Here is my edition of Webster's 1908 Elementary Spelling Book. For an in-depth study of old Spelling Books click on: Spelling Book Reference Page. On March 11, 2014, I published a beautiful paperback edition of the 1908 Elementary Spelling Book

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Teach Phonics, 1916 supplemental phonics book by Lyda Williams. I found this book in a used bookstore in Lubbock, Texas. I think you will be as impressed as I was with the excellence of this phonics book. Note how it begins with lessons on phonemic awareness - in 1916! Very few of the modern reading programs can begin to compare with this little gem. Project Gutenberg republished my scanned copy of Williams' book, 7/29/06. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Through The Phonics Barrier: Student Manual by Dr. Charles Child Walcutt. Dr. Walcutt's method uses an older and very powerful phonogram method of teaching reading. For the full program and audio files for those who wish to teach themselves to read better, click on Through the Phonics Barrier Reference Page. Here is a Comparative Study of the Lippincott Basic Reading 1963 - 1981.  Here is a comprehensive study of the Basic Reading Vocabulary. Here is a comprehensive study of the phonics elements and vocabulary in the 1963 Basic Reading. This is basically the entire phonics portion of the program with the stories stripped away, revealing the phonetic core of the program. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: Remedial Reading Drills (1936) by Hegge-Kirk-Kirk. Rudolf Flesch used these phonics drills when he cured Johnny of his sight-vocabulary induced guessing habit. I have retyped the entire book in large, easy-to-read font and added some helpful instructional notes from Samuel A. Kirk's (1940) Teaching Reading to the Slow-Learning Child. Now you can see for yourself exactly how Flesch helped his Johnny. Today (3/30/07) I got an e-mail from Academic Therapy Publications announcing that they have just published a two volume edition with reproducible pages www.AcademicTherapy.com. I am delighted to see that this excellent method is available in an updated format. Teachers will welcome the reproducible pages: Phonics Reading Lessons: Skills and Practice.

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Sound Track to Reading: An advanced intensive phonics book & reader by Monica Foltzer. My stereo audio instruction for each lesson can be downloaded at A Sound Track to Reading Audio Instruction. Note that for enhanced lateralization the music MUST be fed to the left headphone. Here is an   Interview with Monica Foltzer in Quicktime. Foltzer Phonics Training: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3. These are somewhat large files so please be patient with the download. It will be worth your time. I suggest saving it to your hard drive.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Essential Phonics by Mona McNee. This is an excellent phonics-first program for the youngest to the oldest students. From a dear friend in England. Mona also publishes a larger synthetic program with games, Step by Step. Added 4/6/09. Mona just published a historical pamphlet, Why Billy Can't Read. See # 8 below for her complete phonics program. 

Free Online Reading Programs (Links to other sites)

1. Mrs. Elizabeth Brown has published an excellent, interactive, online reading program for students from second-grade through adult. Very sophisticated phonics to support extraordinary high levels of literacy. All you need is pencil and paper and the newest edition of QuickTime. Click here: The Phonics Page. Here are some supplements I have created to facilitate the use of these lessons: Phonics Lessons Progress Chart. a Certificate of Successful Completion and Romans Reader. Phonics Lessons: Suggested SchedulePhonics Lessons Association Ladder, a Scope & Sequence of the program. Here are Fluency Drills that I created to be used with the program. 

2. Reading Bear. This program is based on the phonics exercises in Rudolf Flesch's 1955 Why Johnny Can't Read. It is a high-quality, interactive, complete phonics reading program. Here is a Reading Bear Scope & Sequence I prepared. Because the program teaches word meanings, as well as phonics, I suggest that it would be a great program for students learning to speak English: ESL.  

3. Here is a simple online children's phonics (www.starfall.com) course that is interactive and lots of funLEARN TO READ

4. Stairway to Reading: by the Society for Quality Education (SQE) of Ontario, Canada is one of the best reading programs I have seen. It is very complete. The decodable sentences are great. While specifically designed for older children with reading problems, it can be used effectively to teach beginning reading..

5. Dr. D. W. Cummings, an eminent researcher into the science of spelling, has made his years of fruitful investigations into the English spelling system - and how best to teach it - available on his web site: D. W. Cummings - Spelling.

7. Phondots is a relative new way to teach reading that looks promising to me because it teaches from the sounds: www.phondot.com. I just started using Phondots with some of my tutoring students. The preliminary results are very promising.

6. Step by Step Phonics by Mona McNee is a step-by-step synthetic phonics program. Also see her Myths of Reading Mona has just published a new book (2007), The Great Reading DisasterThis book is a bombshell that is destined to cause a cosmic shift in the teaching of beginning reading instruction in the English speaking world. Here is a real gem of wisdom from Mona: "Guessing is a terrible thing. It is not a 'strategy' for reading. It is a a danger signal tell us that the pupil cannot read from the letters. The only 'Don't in my lessons is 'Don't guess.'" Mona has just published her complete course in an instructional video format: www.phonics4free.org

7. The Sounds of English web site by Dr. Norbert Rennert of the Summer Institute of Linguistics in British Columbia. This unique Online program gives educators or students access to the patterns of the English language in a systematic and controlled manner for any stage of the reading or writing progress.

8. Free Phonics Lessons from Darlene Dittus. These are excellent lessons. Darlene is a veteran Phonovisual Teacher. 

9. I purchased The Candy4Way Phonics Program on July 4, 2010. It costs less than $10.00 and is a very good intensive phonics program. 

10. Reading Key. Not exactly free, but there is a lot of excellent information on teaching reading on this site. 

11. R is for Reading Books by Cheryl Hill. Not exactly free, but this is a wonderful reading of Cheryl's brand new book. It is unique among phonics methods because it teaches the letter names and multiple sounds in interesting stories. Cheryl's website is www.cherylhill.org. Here is a thorough linguistic analysis for R is for Reading Books.   

12. Word Families and Friends. One of the most complete and well organized phonics reading methods that I have ever reviewed. 

 Recent Brain Research on Reading: Geraldine Rodgers

New Essay by noted reading researcher, Geraldine Rodgers:  The Born-Yesterday World of the Reading "Experts:" A Critique on Recent Research on Reading and the Brain. It gives me great pleasure to invite all visitors to my web site to read this recent and thorough critique of leading brain based research projects. Click here to see my attempt to draw and explain the "Reading Triangle." The concept of using a triangle to illustrate the two paths to reading was published by Henry Suzzallo his in 1913 article: Beginning Reading. Miss Rodgers cuts right to the heart of the reading problem in this article: "WHY NOAH WEBSTER'S WAY WAS THE RIGHT WAY." Here is the 1912 article by Myrtle Sholty that mentions the two types of readers: A Study of the Reading Vocabulary of Children. Sholty's article is now available from JASTOR for free: Sholty's Article. Also note Josephine Horton Bowen's 1911 article, Learning to Read. Charlie Richardson's article Reading: Phonics vs Whole-Language is largely based on Miss Rodger's theory. Mr. Richardson wrote a letter to Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz in 2003 discussing points of contact between her brain research and his theory of acquired dyslexia: The Dyslexia Debate: Nature, Nurture or Both

RESEARCH PROPOSAL: Have you ever wondered how students today would compare with students one-hundred years ago? On June 22, 1983 in New York City, Geraldine Rodgers presented a paper at the National Institute of Education Competitive Hearings on Proposed Research Projects. Her proposal was titled "To Urge the Repetition of the Ayres' Spelling Test of 1914-1915 to Confirm the Existence of Massive Present-day Reading Disability and to Establish its Cause and Cure." Ayres' book and Miss Rodgers' proposal are published here in hopes that researchers will seriously consider the implementing the proposal and the important information it would provide for policy-makers today. Here is a copy of Leonard P. Ayres' book A Measuring Scale for Ability in Spelling.  Here is the Chart that was included as a foldout in the back of the book: Ayres Chart Richardson shows us how the Ayres Scale can be used as A Ready Made Literacy Scale.  Here is Geraldine Rodgers' Introduction to Ayres. Here is link to a very nice scanned edition of Ayres Spelling Scale. Here is Ayres' Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery. For those who care to know more about Ayres' statistical work, here is his The War With Germany: A Statistical Analysis. Here is an excellent source for Ayres' A Measuring Scale fore Ability in Spelling

Anyone interested in the true facts about history of reading should be sure to read The History of Beginning Reading by Miss Geraldine Rodgers. It is available in three paperback volumes or a searchable e-book version at The History of Beginning Reading E-Book.  

 The Hidden StoryHow America's Present-day Reading Disabilities Grew Out of the Underhanded Meddling of America's First Experimental Psychologist. You can read my quotes from the book by clicking The Hidden Story - Choice Quotes. And here is my YouTube clip: Hidden Story. For a brief, but insightful introduction to the two fundamental approaches to reading, "sound" vs "meaning," read this two part article by respected researcher Charles M. Richardson: Reading His personal web was: The Literacy Council. For an early critique of the sigh-reading method, read Samuel T. Orton's famous 1929 article,The "Sight Reading" Method of Teaching Reading, as a Source of Reading Disability.

1977-1978 Oral Reading Research. Miss Rodgers compares the results of teaching the popular sight-word beginning reading programs with phonics-first programs in her book recently published book (2006): Why Jacques, Johann and Jan CAN Read. Research was conducted in several languages. The results lead to her insight into the two kinds of readers. This is fundamental, groundbreaking research. Order Your copy at: Why Jacques, Johann and Jan CAN Read1981, 1982, 1983 Indictment against silent reading tests and their devious negative influence on reading ability in America: Case for the ProsecutionView my YouTube videos, where I read all of Chapter 2: "Why Would Anyone in Their Right Mind Want to Teach Sight Words, Anyway? In 1986 Miss Rodgers sent testimony to the OVERSIGHT ON ILLITERACY IN THE UNITED STATES Hearing before the House of Representatives. You can read her testimony here: "Phonics First.” 

Letter to Reid Lyon on the dangers of trusting tests of silent reading comprehension to evaluate reading ability. This is a very important letter both historically and theoretically. 

The Spelling Doctor: Raymond Laurita

One of the major influences on my understanding of the teaching of reading is the work of Mr. Raymond Laurita. He rightly calls himself The Spelling Doctor. He is the creator of Orthographic Structuralism, a new and exciting scientific way of looking at written English. His web site was closed in December 2007.  Ray has given me permission to publish his articles on this web site.  The article "Spelling as a Categorical Act" serves well an introduction to his foundational book, Orthographic Structuralism: The New Spelling.  

1. A Critical Examination of the Psychology of the Whole Word Method

2. Basic Sight Vocabulary: A Help Or A Hindrance 

3. Frustration and Reading Problems

4. Spelling as a Categorical Act

5. A Plea to Restore Reading as a Spoken Activity 

6. Vertical Word Processing: A New Approach For Teaching Written Language to The Learning Disabled Adolescent. Phillip W. Trembley. MA. 

7. Reversals: A Response to Frustration?  

8. Understanding the Significance of the Individual Letters of the Alphabet in the Development of Full Literacy.           

9. Rehearsal: A Technique for Improving Reading Comprehension. (Teaching Teenagers) 

10. Errors Children Make. This 1967 article is the essence of wide experience and sound judgment. 

12. Spelling Problems Resulting from the Deletion of the Second Consonant in Root Forms

11. Here are two more essays: Spelling Progress Bulletin 1971

13. Cessation of Spelling Newsletter. On June 21, 2006, Mr. Laurita ceased publication of his popular Spelling Newsletter. 

14. Does Holding a Child Back Help or Hinder (The Crisis, Aug & Sep 1966). 

15. The Spelling Doctor's Credo

16. The New Spelling: Orthographic Structuralism. This is Ray's Magnum Opus. I am scanning the book. It will be published one chapter at a time until the work is complete. 

17ȧȧ. The Laurita-Trembley Diagnostic Word Processing Test (1979). This document contains valuable information concerning Mr. Laurita’s approach to English Orthography and how it can be best taught. It is extremely important from a theoretical perspective. 

Essays from Dr. Pat Groff

1. Myths of Reading Instruction - and why they persist. 

2. Sight-Words the Humpty Dumpty of Reading Instruction. 

3. The New Anti-Phonics is the Same Old Look Say. 

4. How to Teach Children to Read Word. This booklet presents in detail Dr. Groff’s highly practical method for teaching people to read. Its publication represents a cooperative effort between myself and the NRRF. 

5. Review of Lucy M Calkin's The Art of Teaching Reading. Notice the mention of Heinemann Publ. as a leading whole-language provider. 

6. Whole Language: Emancipatory Pedagogy or Socialist Nonsense

7. Handwriting, and its Relationship to Spelling  

8. Roll Call of the Combatants in the Reading Wars

9. Children's Identification of Word In and Out of Context

10. The Mythology of Reading: I - Sight Words

11The Usefulness of Pseudowords

12. Is Dyslexia Scientifically Confirmed? Or is it caused by the ineffective teaching of reading

13. Two Reactions to the Report Card on Basal Readers.  A debate between Constance Weaver and Patrick Groff. 

Misreading Analysis: Helen Lowe 

Gives Insight into Faulty Word Identification Strategies and Informs Effective Remediation

In 2002, I began to carefully record student's misreadings of words in order to gain insights into their word identification strategies so that I could design effective remediation instruction. I was influenced to do to this by three masters in the field who had done similar work, Raymond Laurita, Diane McGuinness, and Helen Lowe. Helen Lowe wrote two articles of particular value, one in Atlantic Monthly (1959), and a longer article in Charles Walcutt's book of essays, Tomorrow's Illiterates (1961). Here is her insightful Atlantic Monthly article: Solomon or Salami. I recently found the entire article on the Phonics Institute web site: Phonics Institute. Geraldine Rodgers recently sent me an earlier article published by Lowe entitled How They Read. Here is the more extensive article written forTomorrow's IlliteratesThe Whole-Word and Word-Guessing Fallacy. Here is a speech she delivered in 1963 "Update to How They Read." Here is a link to Helen Lowe's granddaughters web site: Grandmother Link Here is a 1954 Colliers essay by Howard Whitman that includes an interview with Mrs. Lowe: "Why Don't We Teach Them to Read?" Here is a research summary from 2001: How Psychological Science Informs the Teaching of Reading. Here is a briefer summary by the same authors: How Should Reading be Taught. The Usefulness of Brief Instruction in Reading Comprehension Strategies. This is a somewhat skeptical view of "comprehension instruction."

  Rudolf Flesch (Phonics-First) 
Why Johnny Can't Read and what you (parent) can do about it. 

No book has shaped my thinking about reading instruction more than Rudolf Flesch's 1955 best seller, Why Johnny Can't Read and what you can do about itThe book remains a model of solid research and clear thinking. The best part of Flesch's book are the 72 highly effective phonics exercises at the end of the book. Here is a whole page of materials I have developed for teaching his method: Rudolf Flesch Instruction Page

Mr. Edward Miller's Test for Artificially Induced Whole-Word Dyslexia

The Miller Word Identification Assessments (MWIA)

To determine if a student has artificially induced whole-word dyslexia, give him or her the the Miller Word Identification  Assessment (MWIA I or II). This assessment tool consists of two lists of carefully chosen words, a Holistic (sight-words) List and a Phonics List. If the student reads the Phonics List slower and/or misreads more phonics words than the Holistic List, they have whole-word dyslexia and need immediate remediation. I am making the test available as of 9/27/03 here is the MWIA I Test and Instructions. I hope that many parents and teachers will print the pdf file of the test and give it to their students. Here is a sample test: MWIA I Sample Test and MWIA I Sample Summary. The MWIA I & II are available as of 7/22/03: MWIA I & I Test, Manual & Summary Sheet. I usually give the MWIA II. Click here for an MWIA II Analysis I prepared for one student: Student Word Processing Strategies Analysis. I consider the MWIA the poor man's fMRI. Mr. Miller also has a Sight Word Eliminator (SWE) that can help students with artificially induced whole-word dyslexia. To view my a small SWE that I made, click here: The Great Stone Face SWE. Here is an Explanatory Forward to the SWE based on Mr. Miller's original SWE. Don Potter's "Notes on Ed Miller's Complaint to the FTC" concerning Dr. Seuss' sight-word books. Here is Mr. MIller and Rick Dixon's 2004 Update to the Complaint to the FTC. Here is my edition of The Great Stone Face in uppercase letters to help students to overcome configuration reading by eliminating configuration.  Charlie Richardson was a great advocate phonics and the MWIA. Mr. Richardson passed away on March 13, 2008. Here is an "In Memory of Charlie Richardson" by Robert Sweet. Here is Mr. Miller's patent for making a Sight Word Eliminator. Mr. Miller passed away in June 2009. Here is a link to Mr. Richardson's article, Whole-Language Causes Dyslexia. Here is a "Spoof on Dr. Seuss." that I wrote for his birthday on March 2, 2013. How Coyote Stole Fire, a SWE by Vanessa Peters. For a quick grade level, I have found the 1987 Riverside Quick Recognition very helpful. Here is my 2016 Revision of the MWIA Levels 1 & 2, with both Dolce & Fry versions. 

Sam Blumenfeld's Alpha-Phonics

I would certainly be amiss to fail to mention the one book that I have used to teach more students to read than all the others combined: Blumenfeld's Alpha-Phonics (2005 revised & expanded edition) by Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld. I taught Sam's comprehensive, easy-to-teach reading program for seven years in the public school classrooms and many more years in private tutoring.  You can still order the original 1983 edition at: Alpha-PhonicsHere is a Comparison of the two editions: Alpha-Phonics ComparisonThe New Illiterates ranks with Rudolf Flesch'sWhy Johnny Can't Read, and Charles Walcutt's Reading: chaos and cure as one of the great exposes of the sight-word fiasco.  In the school year 1999-2000, I taught Alpha-Phonics to a second grade bilingual class. Teachers interested in teaching Alpha-Phonics to large classes of students in a single school year will find my detailed lesson plans of great value. You can find them at  Potter's Daily Lesson Plans for Teaching Alpha-Phonics. Here is a jpg file of the Certificate I gave the students: Alpha-Phonics Certificate. You can download a set of Orton Phonograms that I developed to assist me in teach Alpha-Phonics to a large class. Here are materials for teaching Total Alphabetic Recall. I have prepared two audio instruction files for the Alpha-Phonics Phonograms: (1) a Long Version and (2) a Short Version. Perhaps others would like to read my Word Analysis of 1983 Alpha-Phonics, which I produced to satisfy my own curiosity. Here is a Word Analysis of the 2005 Blumenfeld's Alpha-Phonics. I have also written an Analysis of the Blumenfeld Oral Reading Assessment Test (BORAT). Here is a new Alpha-Phonics Progress Chart. The new version of Blumenfeld's Alpha-Phonics has just been published. If you would like to purchase a copy, please send a check for $29.95 plus $3.50 shipping and handling (total: $33.45) to Sam Blumenfeld, 73 Bishops Forest Drive, Waltham, MA 02452. Here is an article Sam wrote in Sept. 1994 on Cursive FirstPaul Lukawski's Alpha-Phonics Testimonial. Here is my progress chart for Mr. Blumenfeld's First Readers.  Here is my Cursive Road to Reading and Spelling Progress ChartHere are the Cursive Road to Reading and Spelling Review SentencesCursive Road to Reading and Spelling Phonogram Cards. Here are some YouTube Testimonials: Dr. Obadiah Williams & His 22 Years Teaching Alpha-PhonicsLauren Baxter mother of six learn with Alpha-Phonics. For teachers in a situation where they are, unfortunately, required to teach print-first, here is a copy of the Printing Road to Reading and Spelling Practice Sentences. Mr. Blumenfeld published an effective home phonics primer  in his 1973 The New Illiterates: Preschool Primer. You can order my edition of Mr. Blumenfeld's First Readers

Comparing the Dolch and Fry High Frequency Word Lists

Linda Farrell, Tina Osenga, and Michael Hunter, Founding Partners of www.readsters.com have done a wonderful job researching the history, nature and dangers of sight-word instruction by look-say techniques. 

Dolores Hiskes' Phonics Pathways

I have found Phonics Pathways by Dolores Hiskes of particular value in helping children with whole-word dyslexia. It is equally good for beginning readers or remediation. Order you copy at: Phonics Pathways. Dolores has a new supplement to go with Phonics Pathways called Phonics Boosters that I highly recommend. Dolores has a third book that is great for developing fluency. It is aptly called Reading Pathways. It focuses on strengthening the eyes, increasing eye span, and improving blending and syllabication. I highly recommend that everyone read her 2003 essay on why students are having comprehension problems (It may not be what you think!): Comprehension Extracting vs. Constructing Meaning. Here is a very important presentation Dolores gave at the International Reading Association Phonics Special Interest Group this year (2008) Comprehension

Laurie Endicott Thomas on The Reading Wars

Mary Pecci: At Last A Reading Method for Every Child

Mary is notable for her detailed explanation of how to teach the alphabet, stable phonics, and proper use of developmental basal readers. She has her own set of the latter. Here is a video Mary did for Teaching the Alphabet.  

Becoming A Nation of Readers

Here is a link to the famous government document Becoming a Nation of Readers

YAK Phonics

YAK Phonics by Dr. E. M. Swengel, Ph.D. was on an old Reading Reform Foundation Book List. You can learn more about it at YAK Phonics. You can also purchased his novel Plainston Chronicles from Amazon. More information on Dr. Swendel's work at the Institute for Mutual Instruction

The Sounds of Words 

The Sounds of Words. I have not examined this book; but from comments on the author's website (Learn How to Read), I gather that it may be very valuable. 

Spelling Book Reference Page

In the history of reading in America, no book has had as profound an impact as Noah Webster's Blue-Backed Speller. Rudolf Flesch in his justly famous, Why Johnny Can't Read, and What You Can Do About It, wrote of Webster's Speller, "The Blue-Backed Speller was a fourteen-cent medicine that cured you of illiteracy. Nobody dreamed of criticizing it as wrong, unscientific or ineffective." Miss Geraldine Rodgers explains the advantages of Webster's Spelling Book for teaching beginning reading in her brilliant essay: "WHY NOAH WEBSTER'S WAY WAS THE RIGHT WAY." Click on Spelling Book Reference Page for more information on how to teach high level reading through spelling. You can purchase my practical 2014 edition of Webster's 1908 Spelling Book from Amazon: Noah Webster's Spelling Book Method for Teaching Reading and Spelling

School Phonics

Unique, unusual, fast, fantastic, delightful, colorful, fun, scientifically based, and exciting are all words that describe School Phonics published by Didax Educational Resources. The authors, William C. Carroll, and Kenneth A. Lexier, are experienced hands at publishing reading methods for children. It will teach first-graders practically everything in phonics by midterm.  I suggest visitors to my site consider the program for adoption in public, private, and home schools: School Phonics. Here is excellent article by Jann Flury on the program: Happy Chaps at School. For those interested in the theory behind reading instruction here is the School Phonics' Phonemic Sequence Chart and Words List. Here is my detailed Analysis of the 1985 Open Court Headway Program. Diane Ravitch has interesting comments concerning a recent book about the old Open Court: "The Triumph of Look-Say." Here is an article by Arther Trace Jr. delevered at a NRF meeting in 1963 and a review of Open Court when it first came out. Here is a satire by Dr. Trace: Roger Joikl's Revenge. Here is a highly suggestive study of the advantages of teaching Long Vowel First. Here is Al Henderson's 1987 article on the old Open Court: Reading by Ear. School Phonics is based on the Association Method of Mildred McGinnis. Here is a monogram on the Association Method. Here is a School Phonics Student Progress Chart. The Weiss Method also taught long vowels first. [School Phonics is something of a replacement for the old Open Court, long-vowel-first phonics approach, since the new Open Court departed from that distinctive feature of the pre/SRA/McGraw-Hill Open Court. Schools found out the hard way that the switch had been made. The new Open Court also switched from actions to words for sound-symbols.] We are thankful to Mr. Wigowsky for publishing scanned copies all the old Open Court Workbooks. I have reproduced the heart original Open Court Program: Blue Book - Long Vowels. Gold Book - Short Vowels. Here is the homework: Word and Sentence Lines. Here is a "Critical Study of the Dolch List Sight Word Vocabulary" and the old Open Court. Here is a two page Phonics Picture Chart that I made to go with the method. Here is a presentation of the Associational Levels of From Sounds to Letters. Here are 18 Power Point Presentations for Sounds to Letters.  The Revolt Against Dick and Jane by Arther S. Trace, Jr. (1966).  

3RsPlus - Dick Schutz

3RsPlus web site: BRI and ARI Phonics Readers. The Readers are available in English at Piper Books. This site has several in-depth articles on the development, history, and architecture of the method. For an Online interactive version see Reading Ware. Brian D. Marriott has made the first series available for free download: I See Sam. It is cheaper to purchase the books, but you can review them here. I See Sam.  The entire I See Sam program has just been made available in digital format for free (4/10/2015). 

Article by Dick Schutz:  The Non-Impact of Reading First—Where to Go From Here 

Literacy Testing: Chris Nugent

Chris Nugent in Australia has a lot of information on his web site Literacy Testing.  Be sure and read his hard hitting paper: "How We Learn to Read: An Explanation."

Structural Reading by Catherine Stern

I am delighted to discover that Catherine Stern's K-2 Structural Reading program is still available. This is an excellent program for for teaching very young children. Stern recommended teaching blend phonics (successive phonics/cumulative phonics) before starting word-families so the students would establish good left to right scanning from the first. I believe she was correct in this recommendation. 

Direct Instruction

Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox, and Elaine Bruner

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Just click on the title to order the book. I have found this method especially effective with students who have a difficult time learning to read with other methods. It is very detailed and EASY to follow. I have even used it to teach second grade bilingual students to read English with understanding. Here is Phillis Haddox's website for Teach Your Child. Here is an interactive course on Englemann's DI. Here is the Zigsite, where you can learn all about Siegfried Engelmann - his life and theory. For the obvious - but curiously overlooked - cause of reading failure ponder Siegfried Englemann's penetrating paper, "The Curriculum as the Cause of Failure. In case you, like me, can't imagine why curriculum departments generally are more a part of the problem than the solution consider Englemann's "Advocacy for Children" for some insights. Machinations of What Works Clearing House by Siegfried Englemann. In this paper Englemnn points out that older studies should not be disregarded just because they are pre-1985 - since the reading process has not changed. Here is a Student Progress Chart for TYC

Reading Horizons

Reading Horizons Training. This is a very good basic training video, with information valuable for teaching any phonics program. 

New Ultra-Simple Phonics-First Program

Isabel L. Beck has recently published a practical introduction to phonics that ranks with Florence Akin, Rudolf Flesch, and Hazel Loring for practicability: Making Sense of PhonicsShe clearly works her way through the theory of reading and ends the book with a phonics method that is the ultimate in simplicity and effectiveness. Her techniques is the same as Hazel Loring's Blend Phonics

Hay-Wingo Reading with Phonics 

A Study of the Hay-Wingo Reading with Phonics (2014) by Donald L. Potter. This is a study-in-progress. I will be adding to it regularly as the study proceeds. 

Phonics for Home Methodology

Here is a very complete YouTube Video that teaches an enormous amount of excellent phonics: Phonics for Home Methodology.

What Price Desegregation? 

A thought provoking article from the Feb.-Mar., 1987 Reading Informer. It is by Mary S. Jackson: What Price Desegregation?  Along with Jackson's article, be sure and read Dr. Patrick Groff's Whole Language: Emancipatory Pedagogy or Socialist Nonsense? 

Mary Johnson's Two Sentence Reading Test

Here is a very clever Two-Sentence Test that you can give your students. I am adding articles by Mrs. Johnson at the end of this test. Mary Johnson was the author of Programmed Illiteracy in our Schools, (1971). Mary Johnson also wrote a phonics based ESL method which I plan to make avilable later this year. [GREAT NEWS: Marsha Palansky, Volunteer Services Coordinator of the International Centre of Winnipeg sent me a complete set of Mary Johnson's ESL materials. I appreciate Marsha's help.] Read more about the results of giving this assessment: Oral Reading Survey, New York City, by Mary Johnson. Also read, Mary Johnson's One Woman War by Stephen Franklin. Bruce Detrick Price wrote a good article on Johnson, "Hurray for Mary Johnson - A Great Educator."

Sidney Ledson's Method

Sidney Ledson's Teach Your Child to Read in Just Ten Minutes a Day teaches two year old children to read with an excellent, easy-to-teach phonics-first method. Visit the Sidney Ledson Institute web siteThis is an excellent method for very young children. He has a lot of excellent information on how his method prevents and cures dyslexia. 

Edu-Steps by Pat Doran

I piloted this phonics program for older students when I taught junior high. The program was developed by professor Pat Doran of Gilbert, Arizona. Her program is called Phonics Steps to Reading Success. It is a fast-paced word attack system for developing and improving reading skills. Pat has over 30 years experience working with students with reading problems. The program teaches high-level decoding skills (over 5,500 words) using transparencies, making it possible to teach large groups of students in an effective and economical manner. I especially recommend her fascinating book, The Secret Club: Why and How We Must Teach Phonics and Essential Reading Skills to Under-performing Readers of All Ages. One junior high student improved four grade levels in only 11 hours tutoring with me.! The program usually takes between 20 to 30 hours to complete. Dramatic results have also been reported by other teachers using the program. It is appropriate for ages 10 to 100. Here is a short essay by Pat: Steps to Reading Success. The Teacher's Manual is included right on the transparancies!

TATRAS Direct Vertical Phonics

Every parent and reading teacher will want to carefully examine the TATRAS Direct Vertical Phonics Program by my mentor and good friend Mr. Frank Rogers. His TATRAS Phonogram Sequence Chart is a single piece of paper that contains the entire phonetic system of written English. TATRAS stands for Teaching America To Read And Spell. In April of 2003, one five year old boy demonstrated mastery of all 68 phonograms and 840 Core words. He scored independent third-grade on the 1987 Riverside Informal Reading Inventory. He had a perfect score on the MWIA I proving that he had absolutely no whole-word dyslexia! You will want to read the story I wrote for him: How Isaac Learned to Read In Kindergarten.  Here is the Progress Chart I made for my class:TATRAS PROGRESS CHART. Here is a certificate I give the students once they have mastered all the TATRAS Core Words: Student Teacher Certificate. Be sure and visit Mr. Rogers informative web site:  Vertical Phonics. Johnny's teacher continues to use TATRAS.

National Right to Read Foundation

Since its founding in 1993, the National Right to Read Foundation has worked to fulfill its ambitious mission of returning comprehensive, scientifically-based reading instruction and good literature to every elementary school in America. For parents who are concerned about their children's reading ability, the NRRF has provided an excellent, easy to administer Reading Competency Test. To make it easier to print, I have republished it as a pdf file. Click here: Reading Competency Test. This test tests both code knowledge and grade-level. (For dyslexia, I recommend the Miller Word Identification Assessment.) The work of the NRRF was preceded by the Reading Reform Foundation, founded by Watson Washborn in 1961. Here is the historic  “Summarization of the Afternoon Session” of the First Annual Reading Reform Conference, August 1, 1962. View Bob Sweet's 2007 International Dyslexia Association Power Point Presentation: "Research to Practice: Where Do We Go from Here?" Also visit the Reading Reform Foundation in the United Kingdom.

WE ALL CAN READ 

Mr. James E. Williams has produced two outstanding phonics programs: one for K-2nd Grade, and another for 3rd-Adult. His use of nonsense word and sentences for older readers is especially to be commended. You can visit his web site at: WeALLCanRead.

Progressive Phonics

Ernest H. Christman has produced a very distinctive method for teaching reading with phonics-first in "five levels of phonics difficulty." One unique feature of his program is that he teaches the long and short vowels together in "Level One." Each level is accompanied by enjoyable decodable stories. The book can be used as an invaluable sequel to other phonics programs or as a stand alone program. I uses it as a follow-up to Alpha-Phonics to teach advanced phonics. It is the most complete review of advanced phonics rules that I have seen. Order your copy from Amazon: Rx For Reading: Teaching Them to Read with PhonicsOr directly from the the publishers (large print readers available): Tutorial Press

Spalding Progarms (Writing Road to Reading)

Myrna McCulloch of the Riggs Institute has an unusually rich mine of invaluable information available concerning beginning reading. Her articles are all worthy of careful study: Riggs Institute. Here is a paper delivered by Sylvia Franham-Diggory at the 1987 Reading Reform Foundation Conference: From Theory to Practice in Reading. Michael Brunner was a great advocate trainer for the Spalding Method. Oma Riggs taught Spalding in Spanish Harlem school: "There Are No Bottom of the Barrel Kids." Here is some biographical information from a speech he gave at the 1985 Reading Reform Foundation Conference: Brunner's Speech. Here is Brunner's 1981 analysis of the Houghton Mifflin Reading Program: "Vowelectomy - A Fatal Reading OperationYes Phonics has made available a detailed explanation of their method of teaching Spalding. Wanda Saneri, a Spalding teacher, delivered the following excellent address: Literacy Today: What's Wrong and How We Can Fix It (2001). Michael Brunner, a great Spalding advocate and practitioner, wrote a very important research report entitled, Reduced Recidivism and Increased Employment Opportunity Through Research-Based Reading Instruction. Here is Michael's Literacy Alert website. It is well worth reading. Here is a YouTube video of the Spalding Phonograms. Here is the first of another video: Madsen Method. Denise Eide takes the mystery out of English Spelling with Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common-Sense Solution too America's Literacy Crisis. I chose to list Mrs. Eide's program because of her use of Spalding's Phonograms. The On Track Reading Program follows the Spalding Method. Here is my "Spalding Graduated Schedule of Reinforcement." Here is an Interview with Dr. Mary North by my friend, Linda Schrock Taylor. Here is a great introduction to Spalding letter formation and phonogram sounds: Phonogram Page. Here is a good overview of the Spelling Rules and Phonograms. Romalda Spalding recommended the McCall-Harby Test Lessons in Primary Reading, and so I do. Click on the title for my student progress chart. Here are Ayres' Spelling Scale Flashcards for the 1957 WRTR. Here are my Ayres Spelling List Fluency Reading Drills. “How to Study Reading: An Information Processing Analysis" (1976) by Lee w. Gregg and Sylvia Farnham-Diggory. 

PHONOVISUAL METHOD

Since its publication in 1943, the Phonovisual Method has proven itself to be a highly effective method of teaching reading with phonics. I have been using the Charts in my tutoring work since 2003 and have found them to be very useful when used in conjunction with Rudolf Flesch's 72 Phonics Exercises in his book Why Johnny Can't Read and what you can do about it (1955), or, more recently with Hazel Loring's Blend Phonics. My success promted me to investigate the historical background of the method and to analyze the linguistic organization of the Charts. Here are the results of my investigation: Phonovisual Reviews. Their web site is: www.phonovisual.com. Here is Caroline Yale's (1892, 1946) Formation and Development of English Speech Sounds, containing the original Northampton Charts. Here is the 1914 edition of Yale’s Formation and Development of English Speech Sounds. Here is Alexander Graham Bell's 1906 The Mechanism of Speech. Here is an audio mp3 recording that I made for students to practice the sound on the charts: Student Phonovisual Audio Instruction: ConsonantsStudent Phonovisual Audio: Vowels. Here is my YouTube training on the use of the Phonovisual Charts. Here is a 1965 Evaluation of the Phonovisual Method. More on Caroline Yale. Dr. Frank B. Withrow has some information on the Association Method. Here is Yumiko Nakamura's 2005 Master's Thesis on The Phonovisual Method for Teaching Spelling and Sounds. Here is Schoolfield's 1944 Patent for an Educational Device. Dr. Frank B. Withrow gives us some insights into the Association Method. I am delighted to find that the 1960 Phonovisual Manual is now available through the Internet Archive Library. Here the Phonovisual Games. Phonovisual for Remedial Students. Here are my Phonovisual Fluency Drills for Remedial Students. Phonovisual Fluency Drills: Cursive Edition. Phonovisual Flashcards w/o Clues. Phonovisual Diagnostic Test. An Evaluation of the Phonovisual Method, Grades 1-3 (1965). 

Donald Potter’s Notes on The Gillingham Manual: Remedial Training of Children with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship. There are a few notes i took for my personal use. Perhaps others will end them useful. i believe every reading teaching should own a copy of The Gillingham Manual. It is a rich treasure trove of information. 


Right Track Reading Lessons

I recently received a review copy of Mrs. Miscese R. Gagen's Right Track to Reading Lessons (2004). The program would be very easy to teach. It is quite complete, even teaching lots of prefixes and suffixes to help students decode multi-syllabic words. Her web site is loaded with excellent, original articles, worth multiple visits to her web site. At only $25.00 this is a real value. Mrs. Gagen's has just published a remedial course for older students (3/30/07) Back on the Right Track to Reading. 

These Children Love to Read (Sept. 1961) concerning the Carden Phonics Method and the anti-phonics climate of the Dick and Jane, look-say era. 

Phonics e-Seminars For Puzzled Parents and Frustrated Teachers by Ann Ireland: On Top of the World Press

On Nov. 24, 2006, I stumbled upon a very inexpensive ($40.00) and complete phonics program by Ann Ireland: Phonics e-Seminars.

I heartily recommend the three following COMPUTER PROGRAMS 

for helping student learn to read.

1. The first is by my good friend David Hickerson of 4:20 Communications. One third grade student recently completed Phonics Tutor Frequent Words in less than three weeks and increased her reading level by three grades!  These programs are very complete presentations of the entire English Orthographic System. I might add that all their work evidences a thorough understanding of English Orthography and a solid grasp of good educational psychology.  Here is their web site: Phonics Tutor. I have created a PTFW Progress Chart

2. The second program is one I have found extremely valuable for all children. I have used it with students in all the elementary grades, bilingual, and English-only speaking. It is called Read Write and Type. It teaches phonemic awareness, touch typing, vocabulary, reading, and spelling all in one super fun program. It has special Spanish toggle that gives assistance in Spanish.  The web site is: Read Write and Type  Here is a review and evaluation from the Florida Center for Reading Research. To make Read, Write, and Type work on Windows XP, you will need to download a special Patch: Patch for RWT I also use their newest program Wordy Qwerty for advanced spelling and reading. Here are Student Progress Charts I have made for both RWT & Wordy Qwerty. Here is a Class Record Chart for RWT. Be sure an check out Jeannine Herron's Blog. Here is a YouTube Training by Mrs. Herron. Talking Fingers has a new app: Talking Shapes. Here is a study on The Effectiveness of RWT on Phonological Awareness in First Graders. 

3. The third program is Ultimate Phonics Reading Program by Spencer Learning. Their "Resource" is particularly rich in free materials. This program uses the mouse and does not require any typing. I understand that it is being revised. 

Typing - Keyboarding Skills

When I was in high school, my mother made me take a typing class. I figured I would never use it. Later I worked my way through college as a billing clerk for a trucking company. I freely acknowledge that my mother was wiser than I. I have my typing skills to type hundreds of papers and several books. I would like to recommend Diana H. King's Keyboarding Skills. Here is a brief outlier of the program: Keyboarding Skills Outline. I do not recommend having students typing until they are old enough to learn to touch type. Handwriting, especially cursive, is much better for brain development. Diana King Method for Touch Typing. King teaches the letters in ABC order and with letter names: a powerful combination. Here is a little program, based on King's method, that I use with my kids: Diane King's Method for Touch Typing. 

Advanced Decoding Skills: M. K. Henry's WORDS program

One program that sees heavy use in my teaching is the incomparable WORDS program by M. K. Henry. I say incomparable because this one program teaches, phonics, vocabulary building, reading, and spelling by instructing the students in the three levels of English orthography (spelling): Anglo-Saxon, Romance, and Greek. The author recommend the program for third grade and up, but I have have used it effectively with second-graders. Order your copy at: WORDSShe published a very valuable article concerning the organization and effectiveness of her program in a book published by the Orton Dyslexia Society entitled All Language and the Creation of Literacy (1991). I am pleased to announce that I have received permission from the International Dyslexia Association (www.interdys.org) to publish the article on my web site. You can read it by clicking on the title, Organizing Decoding Instruction. Her newest book Unlocking Literacy: Effective Decoding & Spelling Instructiois a gold mine of information. Here are some handouts Mrs. Henry published 2009: "Organizing Phonics Instruction for Student Success." For a most revealing insight into the absolute necessity of systematic instruction in the three levels of English orthography, see the revealing charts by Don McCabe at: Reading by Grade Three. Say What? Following the ideas in Organizing Decoding Instruction, I wrote Beyond Blend Phonics. This little book teaches the Anglo-Saxon, Romance (Latin & French) and Greek Levels of English in a unique, easy-to-teach manner. 

Where to Start

A good  place to begin research in reading is with Diane McGuninness' blockbuster book, Why Our Children Can't Read  and What You can Do About It. The second chapter explains the four faulty reading strategies used by most students: 1. letter-name-decoding, 2. name-to-sound-translating,3. sight-word-reading, 4. and real-word-guessing. She observes, "Failure could come a early as first grade or as late as third, when the real-word guesser with the fabulous visual memory and terrific vocabulary finally breaks down. A child's poor reading strategy will not self-correct without appropriate remediation. ... Most of the time, a child's decoding strategy is invisible to the teacher and parent. In order to discover a child's reading strategy you need do listen to him read individual words and record each misread word phonetically."  (26) Order this breakthrough publication at: Why Our Children Can't Read: McGuinness. Her son Goffrey and daughter-in-law Camen created, Reading Reflex: The Foolproof Phono-Graphix™ Method for Teaching Your Child to Read. I have used and highly recommend this method. Dr. Diane McGuinness recently wrote a very thorough article on reading for the Reading Reform Foundation in Great Britain: A Prototype for Teaching the English Alphabet Code. Samuel Blumenfeld wrote a review of McGuinness' book: Review of McGuinness. Donna Garner has published a thoughtful and powerful first-hand testimonial, "Reading at a Cost of $6.46." Dr. McGuinness has published two workshops on YouTube on why it is hard to learn to read English that I highly recommend: RRF Lecture 1, RRF Lecture 2

The Lowdown on Sight Words 

Here is some good, hard-to-come-by information on sight words by Linda Farrell. A New Model for Teaching High Frequency Words

Just Read Florida

THE SOURCE: A Curriculum Guide for Reading Mentors. This is a 184 page, information-packed, comprehensive guide for reading mentors.

Cognitive Process in Education

Sylvia Farnham-Diggory, a modern master of the science of cognitive psychology, wrote two very valuable books detailing the implications of recent developments in cognitive psychology for education. The first book, Schooling,  is a popularization of the implications of recent advances in the scientific understanding of the human mind as an information processor. Her larger work, Cognitive Process in Education, details the history and implication of cognitive psychology for education.  Schooling is in print and can be ordered at:  Schooling. Her larger college textbook, which is out of print, can be ordered used at:  Cognitive Process in Education. Here is her paper, From Theory to Practice in Reading, delivered at the 1987 Reading Reform Foundation Conference. Here is a paper she wrote in in 1976: How to Study Reading: An Information Processing Analysis. The unfortunate demise of the ERIC platform has robbed us of many important research documents, such as the last one. You can read the same article in a preview segment of Theory and Practice of Early Reading, Vol. 3, edited by Lauren B. Rensick and Phyllis A. Weaver, "How to Study Reading."  

A Scientific Approach to Reading Instruction

Stanford Report, May 28, 2015: Stanford study on brain waves shows how different teaching methods affect reading development. 

Reading and the Brain presented by The Smart Learning Lab (2015). This is a video training session by Dr. Christopher Kaufman. 

Barbara Foorman, Jack Fletcher, and David Francis: Center for Academic and Reading Skills (CARS) 1997: Scientific Approach to Reading

Charles A. Perfettione of the premier reading researchers, has published significant portions of his research at the following address: Perfetti

Joseph J. Torgesen, Essays from a leader in the field. See numerous other important essays and papers at The Florida Center for Reading Research

The Simple View of Reading by Wesley A. Hoover and Philip B. Gough. This is a VERY important paper. 

Ronald P. Carver: Causes of High and Low Reading Achievement. Here are some quotes I collected from Carver's book with some personal observation: Carver Quotes. Silent Reading Rates in Grade Equivalents (1989) by Ronald P. Carver. 

The Reading Process: A Power Point featuring Marilyn J. Adams' "Four Module Processor." 

A brief article by Maryanne Wolf, "New Research on an Old Problem: A Brief History of Fluency." 

Advanced student of science of teaching reading will want to read closely Denis G. Pelli and Katharine A. Tillman's research article, Parts, Wholes, and Context in Reading: A Triple Dissociation

National Reading Panel Report on Phonics. Raises almost as questions as it answers. The report is based on several programs that are no longer available or have not been updated to new state standards. 

Fluency is a major issue in reading. Ronald Carver called it "rauding rate." Here is a very clear presentation of the issue: Fluency: Achieving True Mastery in the Learning Process

"On The Functional Architecture of Language and Reading: Trade-Offs Between Biological Preparation and Cultural Engineering" by Thomas Carr. Something of a summary of modern evidence.

"Connectionist Model of Word Reading" by Mark S. Seidenberg. The following quote is a classic: "Some of these children may be ‘‘instructional dyslexics’’ who were taught using methods that did not incorporate phonics, which slows reading acquisition, as occurs in our models under similar training conditions.” His new book Reading at the Speed of Sight contains the most recent research on reading. You can read more of his essays at the Language & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

Connectionists perspectives on language learning, representation and processing" (2015) by Marc F. Joanisse and James L. McCelland. A good up-to-date summary. 

"Knowing letter names and learning and learning letter sounds: A Causal Connection" by David L. Share. A recent provocative study. I have been on both sides of the letter name controversy, most recently on the side that views letter name knowledge as important. 

The Classic Readabililty Studies by William H. DuBay. This is a source of the original readability studies with commentary by Mr. Dubay. Here is L. A. Sherman's classic Analytics of Literature (1893).  

Links for Precision TeachingBinder on CeilingsRemoving CeilingsEverybody Needs Fluency, Binder, Behavioral Fluency. Ken Johnson's Encyclopedia Article. Very important article by Ken Johnson on the Morning Side Model of Generative Instruction

"Learning to Read Words: Theory, Findings, and Issues" by Linnea Carlson Ehri. John R. Beech wrote a good critique: "Ehri's model of phase of learning to read: a brief critique." Developmental Variation in Word Recognition by Ehri. While considering Ehri's work, I recommend reading, "Are Young Children Logographic Readers and Spellers? by Margo Bowman and Rebecca Treiman. They argue for the negative position. 

Rethinking Special Education for a New Century (2001) Ed. Chester E. Finn, Jr.; Andrew. J. Rloterham; Charles Hokanson., Jr. Note especially the chapter by Reid Lyon and Jack Fletcher, and Sally Shawitz, Joseph Torgensen, et. al. 

The Child’s Learning of English Morphology by Jean Berko (1958). This presents the famous “Wug Test” that showed how well young children know English morphology. It was a feather in the phonics hat. 

Whole-Language: Catalogue of the Grotesque and Rhetoric and Revolution by Martin Kozloff. These two papers are hard-hitting critiques of the Whole-Language Psycholinguistic Guessing Game. I was trained in Whole-Language for most of my 21 years on in education. It is mind boggling to realize that such malpractice was practiced on a large scale for a long time - and still is!.

The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading Processes” (2013) by P. D. Pearson and G. N. Cervetti. 

Automaticity and Reading: Perspectives from the Instance Theory of Automatization by Gordon D. Longan

Steps Toward Literacy: A Linguistic Approach: Isabelle Y. Liberman, Donald Shankweiler, Linda Camp, Benita Blanchma, and Michele Werfelman. Chapter 10 in Auditory Processing and Langauge. "Speech, the Alphabet, and Teaching to Read" by I. Y. Liberman and D. Shankweiler. "Letter Confusions and Reversals of Sequence in the Beginning Reader  Implications for Orton's Theory of Developmentala Dyslexia.”

Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondences as Cues to Spelling Improvement by Paul Hanna, Rudolf & Hodges (1966). A very important and justly famous study into the value of phonics generalizations. Margaret Bishops’ valuable The ABC’s and All Their Tricks: The Complete Reference Book of Phonics and Spelling (1986) was based on this computerized study. 

English Orthography: Its Graphical Structure and Its Relationship to Sound" (1967) Richard L. Venezky. 

Here is a recent Thesis: Naming Speed, Letter-Sound Automaticity, and Acquiring Blend Skills among Students with Moderate Intellectual Disabilities by Dawn H Davis (2010). This thesis reminds me a lot of Precision Teaching in visualizing a generative relationship between automaticity in lower skills such as naming speed and letter-sound automaticity as necessary preparation for acquring higher skills such as sound blending. My experience convinces me that this is correct for all students, and not just students with "moderate intellectual disabilities." 

Methods of Teaching Beginning Reading. This is a very good chart explaining various phonics methods. Often whole-langauge is couple with analytical phonics, but this is contrary to whole-langauge as originally conceived by Frank Smith and Kenneth Goodman. 

Theodore Clymer's famous 1963 study, "The utility of phonics generalizations in primary grades." 

Cognitive dynamics of fluent reading and spelling development (2010) Annieke Angelina Vaessen. An recent important study in Rapid Naming Speed. 

A Remedial Program for Poor Decoders in an Inner-City High School (1976). I am fortunate to have found this study. Students listened to polysyllables divided into syllables in a manner reminiscent of Webster's spelling books. 

Reading in the Brain Slides by Stanislas Dehaene. Here is an even more detailed slide presentation: Reading in the Brain: Neuronal mechanisms of a cultural invention. Here is a superb lecture by Dr. Stanislas, Reading On the Brain

Knowing Letter Names: A Strong Predictor of Future Reading and Writing Success for Young Children. A very good slide presentation. 

"Commentary: Letter-Name Values in Reading (1980) by Donald D. Durrell. A very important short paper on the value of Letter Names in learning to read. 

"Why Not Phonics and Whole Language" (1991) by Marilyn Jager Adams. I first read this article in 1998. It proved to be the antidote I needed to protect me from the deadly whole-language virus. It is a complete and devastating critique of Frank Smith's theory reading. Here is a Executive Summary of Dr. Adams' 1990 Beginning to Read. Here is Donald Shankweiler’s review, “Starting on the Right Foot: A Review of M. J. Adams’ Beginning to Read.” 

Whole Language vs. Code Emphasis: Underlying Assumptions and Their Implications for Reading Instruction (1991) by I. Y. Liberman and A. M. Liberman. A fundamental study worthy of careful study. 

"The Efficacy of Orthographic Rime, Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences, and Implicit Phonics Approaches to Teaching Decoding Skills" (2005) By Carol A. Christensen and Judith A. Bowey. A study indication that part-to-whole phonics is significantly superior to whole-to-part. 

"Is English Spelling Chaotic? Misconceptions Concerning It's Irregularity" (2003) Brett Kessler & Rebecca Treiman. 

Steps Toward Literacy: A Linguistic Approach (1970) Isabel Y. Liberman, Donald Shankweiler, et. al. A valuable Haskel Lab Reprint. 

Audio Processing and Language (1968) Phiilp J. Levinson & Christine Sloan of the Haskel Lab. A very important paper. 

A View on Dyslexia (1997 MIT AI Lab) by Gad Geiger and Jerome Y. Lettvin. An interesting paper. 

Yopp-Singer Test for Phonemic Awareness. An essential test for struggling readers to see if they have phonemic awareness. 

Rebecca Treiman, et. al., Statistical Learning, Letter Reversals, and Reading. (2014). A very interesting study concerning left and right lowercase letters (uppercase do not seem to suffer reversals). I should like to know how a study of cursive would compare. 

Learning Disabilities: Historical Perspectives by Daniel P. Hallahan & Cecil D. Mercer 

Basic Processes and Instructional Practices in Teaching Reading (1978) P. David Pearson and Michael L. Kamil. A good overview of the bottom-up and top-down views of word identification. He merely describes the views, but does not take a position. I think that later research has definitely sided with the bottom-up view, especially for beginning reading instructions.

Rethinking the Role of Decodable Texts in Early Literacy Instruction by Rick Chan Frey. This is an important study of the results of teaching currently available decodable texts. Even thought I am a phonics advocate, I am not a fan of most decodable text because I believe the use of pictures and inclusion of sight-words encourage guessing and promotes dyslexia. Frey’s study focuses on the Open Court (Imagine It!) decodables, which the author considers representative. To the contrary, I consider them among the worst decodable text possible. For your consideration, let me suggest my decodable text, Blend Phonics Lessons and Stories, which contain no pictures or sight-words taught as wholes apart from phonics. 

The Comprehension Revolution: A Twenty-Year History of the of Progress and Practice Related to Reading Comprehension (1987) P. David Pearson. 

Developmental Alexia: Congenital Word-Blindness, or Inability to Learn to Read (1918) Clara Schmitt. Continued. Early use of the word dyslexia. 

Research 1960-1970 on Methods and Materials in Reading (1978) by Paul B. Diedrich. A pretty good summary generally favorable to phonics, but seemingly unaware of the strengths of phonics programs like Beacon and Pollard from the early 1900’s. 

Systematic Phonics Instruction: Findings of the National Reading Panel (2003) Linnea C. Ehri. 

Reading: A Controversial View - Research and Rationale by Barbara Bateman (1967). This is a very valuable paper. 

The First Grade Studies In Retrospect" (2002) by Phyllis J. Schnoz, B.A., M.A. This is a very valuable dissertation that gives a historical perspective, but comes to no definite conclusion as to which reading method is best. Interestingly, my personal experience teaching Rudolf Flesch’s 72 Exercises led me to the conclusion that his method works - and could have singlehanded beat all the methods in the study.

Reading and the Reading Wars by James S. Kim. This excellent article brought back a lot of memories of the Whole Language workshops I set through during my tenure as a public school teacher. 

Teaching Word Recognition Skills (1971) complied by Mildred A. Dawson. State of the art articles on teaching word identification skills in 1971. Contains many valuable articles. 

Advancing Our Students’ Language and Literacy: The Challenge of Complex Texts" (2009) by Marilyn Jager Adams. This is a serious inditement against the simplification of elementary reading material. 

To Read or Not to Read

This 2007 report by the National Endowment for the Arts is a real eye opener concerning the state of reading in America and what it means for the future of our Country: To Read or Not to Read

Progress in Understanding Reading

by Keith Stanovich

For the brave soul who is willing to tackle a mountain of information to gain a clear and unobscured view of what we know about effective reading instruction, I recommend Keith Stanovich's Progress in Understanding Reading. He began his research with a bias in favor of the so called psycholinguistic, top-down approach of Ken Goodman and Frank Smith. His research led him to very different view. You can purchase the book, and even read a few very interesting pages at: Progress in Understanding Reading. Click here for a link to his valuable essay, What Reading Does for the Mind. Here is another essay by Stanovich, one which has has made a lasting impression on reading research: Matthew Effects in Reading. Here is his essay: Romance and Reality.  Quite a bit of Progress in Understanding Reading can be read from the Google limited preview. Ronald P. Carver wrote an extensive Review of Progress in Understanding from the viewpoint of his rauding theory. Here is A Longitudinal Study of Sentence Context Effects in Second-Grade Children: Tests of an Interactive-Compensatory Model (1981) by Stanovich, West, & Freeman. And here is West & Stanovich’s 1978 study, Automatic Contextual Facilitation in Readers of Three Ages, that forever sent the “Reading is a Guessing Game” of Goodman and Smith to the scrap heap of disproven theories. A Longitudinal Study of the Development of Automatic Recognition Skills in First Graders (1981) supporting the LaBerge & Samuels’ automaticity model of reading development. http://rfwest.net/Site_2/Welcome_files/Stanovich-longitud-JRB81.pdf. Be sure and read “Toward an Interactive-Compensatory Model of Individual Differences in the Development of Reading Fluency" (1980). 

Dr. Marilyn J. Adams Introduction to Reading: psychology & history

Linguistic Method of Teaching Reading: Is it a Kind of Neo-Phonics? An interesting 1969 article.

Gray Oral Reading Test (GORT 1). This is the original Gray Oral Reading Test (1917). The current version is the GORT 5. 

Principles and Methods of Teaching Reading (1912) by Joseph S. Taylor. A detailed introduction to the principal and methods of teaching reading as practiced in 1912. Very thorough. 


  Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of Balanced Literacy

by Louisa Cooks Moats

I am well aware of the popularity of Balanced Literacy in American education circles today. It is a supposed healthy balance between Phonics and Whole Language, as if the two somehow could be made to work together. Rather than comment here concerning my opinion in the matter, I will let Louisa Moats' devastating critique of Balanced Literacy speak for me. You can read her in-depth article at: Whole Language Lives On. Here is a very important paper criticizing whole-language from a linguistic view point: 40 Professors of Linguistics. For a well documented historical introduction of the phonics/whole-langauge controversy read this article by E. Jennifer Monaghan. Here is a recent paper by Dr. Moats that is well worth reading: Whole Language High Jinks: How to Tell When "Scientifically Based Reading Instruction" Isn't. Here is Sebastian Wren short article on "Reading and the Three Cueing Systems." Here is a 1890 Popular Science Magazine article "Unnatural Reading" that will demonstrate that the concept and practice of whole-language has been around before its modern day representatives were born, and got the same dismal results. Here is a very complete reading assessment by Christopher Wren: The Abecedarian Reading Assessment.  Talking about Whole Language, here is Ken Goodman's original 1967 article, "Reading A Psycholinguistic Guessing Game." The arguments in his famous paper are so ludicrious that they would be laughable if it were not for the fact that they consigned millions of American youth to the dark night of functional illiteracy. Here is David Differ’s “Three-Cueing Systems: A Failed Model.” For a comprehensive introduction to whole language, here is Constance Weaver’s Reconsidering a Balanced Approach to Literacy. Here is Constance Weavers, Practicing What We Know: Informed Reading Instruction, containing articles by the big names in whole language. I remember training with Andrea Butler. 

Improving Inservice Training

Improving Inservice Training: The Messages of Research by Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers. I first read this research paper in 1998. It has helped me a lot in delivering effective teacher training workshops. 

Bilingual Education

I would have to say that bilingual education is one of my greatest loves. My fifteen years as elementary bilingual educator were among the most wonderful in my life. I was fortunate to have been trained by three of the best mind in the field: Dr. Robert Medrano, Dr. George Gonzales, and Ms. Les Vela. They taught me the value of building a strong cognitive foundation in the native language, while quickly developing the student's oral and literary competencies in English. My Raleigh mountain bike is a familiar sight to all my former students who were used to seeing me ride up with a backpack full of Spanish and English books ready for them to read to me. Their parents always invited me in and offered me the their typical hospitality, which often included watermelon, burritos, tacos and a glass of water or ice tea. Bill Honig wrote a balanced and interesting article on bilingual education that you might enjoy reading:  Dealing with Non-English Speaking Learners. For those who would like to know more about how I taught Dr. George Gonzalez "Total Integrated Language Approach," here are my notes from the workshops I attended. 

Cognitive Psychology Meets Word Recognition

Here is an article on "Word Recognition" by Kevin Larson a Font Expert at Microsoft. If your are into cognitive psychology, you will have some real fun reading it: The Science of Word Recognition. Kevin writes, "The goal of this paper is to review the history of why psychologists moved from a word shape model of word recognition to a letter recognition model, and to help others to come to the same conclusion." To me, the implications for teaching phonics-first are obvious. 

[For good measure here is a series of articles by Frank Smith defending whole-language. While I intensely disagree with his "guessing method," everyone deserves a hearing - so here it is.] Here is a book Kenneth S. Goodman edited, Miscue Analysis: Applications to Reading Instruction. This book will give you insight into of the illogic behind Whole Language, Guided Reading, and Balanced Literacy. 

Augustin G. Rudd: Bending the Twig

Anyone interested in the history of education and why there are so many illiterates coming out of our public schools should read Augustin G. Rudd's Bending the Twig: The Revolution in Education and Its Effect on our Children (The Heritage Foundation, Chicago, 1957." He sponsored scholarships for the Reading Reform Foundation. 

Common Core Standards

Much of the nation is gearing up for the implementation of Common Core Standards. While my website studiously avoids political matters, I must say that Federal control of the nation's education is a clear violation of the Citizen and States Rights as defined by the U. S. Constitution and definitely not in the best interest of the of the children it dubiously claims to serve. Video Series: Why Common Core Must Be Stopped. Here is an alternate curriculum, that I highly recommend, by Sandra Stotsky: An English Languages Arts Curriculum Framework for America Public Schools: A Model. I especially recommend, Child Clinical Psychologist: Common Core Harmful to Children. Common Core: The Real Agenda

Teaching Reading in the Content Areas (2009) by Daniel Willingham. This is a very good video explaining the importance of not wasting time teaching so called comprehension skills when knowledge is what kids need to be good readers. E. D. Hirsch Jr., wrote a great article on the same topic: Teaching Content Is Teaching Reading (Dec. 2010). 

Three Tier Response to Intervention Model 

To understand education today, it is necessary to know current terminology. A "tier" is a level of reading ability. Students are classified into one of three tires. Tier 1 Core Instruction (no need for intervention), Tier 2 (need for group intervention), Tier 3 (Intensive intervention). My opinion is that if phonics-first were taught to all students in the core instruction, there would be little need for Tier 2 or Tier 3.   

May Carden Phonics Reading Method: I have not been able too find any detailed information on the Carden Method. Here is some information of a general character: These Children Love to Read

Ultimate Guide to Reading Comprehension. This website contains lots of practice tests on comprehension. 

Test your Phonics Knowledge: Practice Quiz on Phonics.

If you made it to the bottom of this long page, you deserve a little humor. Here is a funny, but sadly true article on whole-language: Thank You Whole Language.

Susan Jones has some excellent material at here website: Resource Room. Susan is the Academic Development Specialist at Parkland College, Campaign, IL.

Here is an Online program that will let you do a Readability Analysis in several languages.

Informal Reading Assessments

from the Florida Department of Education. Some good usable information.

Psychology for Students of Education (1923) Arthur I. Gates. Sam Blumenfeld sent me a copy of his from his personal library before he passed away.  A lot of interesting material. He explains the look-say-method and why they quit doing handwriting drills. Here is a PDF of his Elementary Psychology (1926). 

On-line Reading Lab: America - Today and Tomorrow

Here is one of the best finds this year: On-line Reading Lab. Here are excellent information articles with self-grading comprehension tests. This reading practice at its best. This is not phonics, but it is excellent reading practice. Thanks to Dr. John Paul Loucky's who sent me the link.

Here are Flash Cards for about everything under the sun!

On Line Etymology Dictionary.

History and Development of the Sullivan Programmed Reading. 1971 study by Lorna J. Thompson. Rather detailed and somewhat entertaining. The program is available from Phoenix Learning

Books Online

Miss Maggie's An Old Fashioned Education is loaded with great material for a great education for your child.

A rich source for old books is Archive.org

Google Books has become a first-stop source for books. 

For great site for free book classics Online click on: bartelby.com

You hear great books read at LibriVox

Old Children's books can be found at The Baldwin Project

For over 90,000 books Online: 
 Digital Book Index

University of Virginal Library: 
 e-books

Making of America (MoA) is a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the ante-bellum period through reconstruction. The collection is particularly strong in the subject areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, and science and technology. The collection currently contains approximately 9,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. 

Phonics and Reading by Van Liew and Lugas (1897). This is something of an advanced reference book.

Phonetic and Structural Generalizations for Teaching Primary Grade Spelling, by Wm. A. Kottmeyer, Ph.D. This is a useful summary of Kottmeyer's Ph.D. thesis. He was a very influential special education reading teacher. He advocated what he called "single letter phonics" as opposed to "spelling-family phonics." His method is essentially the same as Rudolf Flesch, Phonics Exercises, Hazel Loring's Blend Phonics, the Hegge-Kirk-Kirk Remedial Reading Drills, and even Dolores Hiskes' Phonics Pathways.

Simplified Spelling, Phonetic Alphabets, and their application to the teaching of reading, by Betty Lou Allen Iles, M. S. (Ed.), 1965 Here is Part 2 This is a lot of hard-to-get information.

Here is information on Leonard Bloomfield's Let's Read. You can read the Preface and Instructions and some of the lessons by clicking on the title. Here is a Times essay on Let's Read. Here is an article on Dyslexia by an advocate of Bloomfield's spelling method of teaching reading. Wayne State University just sent me a review copy of the new edition. It is excellent. 

Anyone with the fortitude to make it to the end of my long Education Page will find The Psychology of Mastering the Elements of Reading, by D. B. Elkonin a prize well worth waiting for.

Here is Ernest Vincent Wright's novel, Gadsby: A Story 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E." 

Word Count: This is an engine that will do syllable counts and other readability statistics. 

Download: Can You Read Me Now? Learn how to use Readability Formulas 

The Sounds of Words


Paolo Lionni The Leipzig Connection. Anyone interested in the current state of education in America today will find this book most revealing. I have checked many of the references. This is easy since most of the books referred to are available on the Internet. 

On April 21, 2017, Mr. Anthony J. DeBlasi sent his principal’s 1951 report to the American Education Association, “Progressive Poison in Public Education.” Milo F. McDonald published it as a pamphlet. Mr. DeBlasi has kept it all these years. As Mr. DeBlasi comments, “It is a VERY REVEALING window on what happened to put the public schools skidding downhill toward a dumbed-down socialist society, an early 20th Century Marxist Goal.” He adds, “Oh, it was fun, but only the brighter students to to learn anything and succeed in any sense of the word academic.”