Saturday, October 15, 2016

Phonics, Sight Words, and Student Success

Phonics, Sight Words, and Student Success

Approximately 70 to 85 percent of English words are phonetically regular. With the present emphasis on phonics, students will sometimes struggle in vain to sound out a particular word. As parents and teachers, we need to consider the possibility that the word is not phonetically regular or the student has not mastered the phonetic rule(s) that apply to the particular word. Students can be successful learners if we either teach the word as a sight word (until we have the opportunity to teach the skill), OR grab that teachable moment and teach the skill.
When we eliminate the fear of failure, we increase the joy of reading.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Is How to Teach Reading a Mystery?

Reading Proficiency in the U.S. 2015

Is How to Teach Reading a Mystery?

Notes from Jacquie: It was my intention to write a post about the state of reading in the U.S. Topics, would of course, include Department of Education requirements and the complex strand of ever-changing jargon, regulations, curriculum, assessments, and funding structures that  lead ultimately to the classroom. In otherwords I was writing myself into a quagmire of detail.

Instead, I will say thank you to the many hard-working teachers who are doing their best to teach  in spite of constraints placed on their efforts. 

Reading Proficiency 2015
The state of reading in the U.S. speaks for itself. The National Report Card tells us the vast majority of our students are not reading at grade level. More detailed information can be found at National Report Card website.

This blog and the Reading Company Bookshelf will continue to highlight successful instruction, the heroes of education,  and books that support reading in a wide-range of curriculum areas.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Process, Content, and Feelings Influence Lesson Success

Process, Content and Feelings are in each lesson: Plan for Success

Every lesson contains three components, each of which has influence on success: process, content, and feeling.

• Process Defines the Method of Teaching. 

Group instruction, often a favorite, is most often successful when students are learning the same standard. To require a student to sit through instruction of material he or she has mastered OR material that is far too difficult, not only defeats the purpose of instruction but causes students to lose interest. The opportunity to learn may be unintentionally eliminated with the selection of ta particular lesson process.

Precision teaching, multi-sensory learning, scaffolding, and cooperative learning are examples of additional structures available. Each strategy can work with any curriculum. A list of process options to consider can be found at the end of this post. Other resources can be found listed on this blog.

• Content Defines What is Taught. 

It is important to sequence each lesson in such a way that students are exposed to both previously learned material and the new content simultaneously.   Each student should have his or her own entry point into the curriculum and move at his or her own pace in order to offer a  frustration free experience.

• Feeling is Perhaps the Most Important Component of each Lesson. 

While the reactions to the learning environment may vary among students, it is important for the instructor to be aware of the feeling tone of the class. Adjusting the content, presentation, adding humor, or additional positive reinforcement goes a long way toward maintaining a warm, inviting environment.

• Feelings are attached to every learning event and have a direct impact on the assimilation and retention of information. For example, if a teacher yells or belittles students when teaching the digraph th, chances are the student will not remember the digraph th, but will remember the teacher. The student may be less receptive to further teaching of the digraph th and, depending on the degree of the negative impact, reading in general.

• When learning is fun and tension free, information is more easily assimilated. If a student demonstrates difficulty learning a concept, and the teacher is allowed to take the time to teach another way, the student no longer fears failure.
Excerpts from Rhoades to Reading  and Simple Cooperation in the Classroom

Thank you Cindy Kreeger for editing this article.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Teachers, Firefighters, Police Officers: WEP Retirement Surprise

  A bipartisan bill (HR711) has been filed in the House of Representatives to treat teachers, firefighters and police officers who paid into Social Security the same as other American workers. 

Note from Jacquie: If you are are in public service or the spouse of a public servant, you may want to read further. Public servants are most-often not fully informed about the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Rather than list the details of WEP, the proposed remedy before the House of Representatives explains it all.

Representatives Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts)are leading the effort to alter the controversial Social Security provision known as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

"Our bill strengthens the solvency of Social Security while guaranteeing our public servants receive the full benefits they earned when paying into the program,” said Brady. “Those who teach our children and protect and serve us everyday deserve equal treatment when they retire. Social Security benefits should be based on your real-life contributions, not some arbitrary formula."

Picture Resource:


Snapshot of Real Life:
Cases From Texas AFT

The Widow


Consider the case of a widow eligible to receive a survivor’s benefit of $600 a month from Social Security. Suppose she retires from a school district that does not take part in the Social Security system and in her own right has earned a TRS pension of $900 a month. 

Federal law imposes a so-called Government Pension Offset that reduces her Social Security survivor’s benefit by two-thirds of the amount she receives from Texas TRS. That happens in this case to be a $600 offset—which means her survivor’s benefit is reduced to zero.

The Worker


Consider another case. This time, suppose the teacher qualified for Social Security benefits by working for another employer for 20 years before she went to work for the school district. Or suppose she worked at another job evenings and weekends and summers to qualify for Social Security. What happens when she retires from her job with a school district that doesn’t take part in Social Security? 

She faces a severe cut in her Social Security benefits, because federal law contains the so-called Windfall Elimination Provision. Under this law, instead of receiving 90 percent of the first $856 of average monthly pre-retirement earnings, she receives only 40 percent. That’s a $428 cut in her expected monthly Social Security benefit.

Follow the progress of HR711 Type in HR711 in the search box.

History of the Windfall Elemination Act         WEP Fact Sheet

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ants in Space

The talents of educator and author. G. J. Griffiths meet once again in the fantasy si-fi children’s book Ants in Space. When playing in the garden Laura and her sister Eva discover the world of alien ants who take them through an exciting space adventure in their miniaturized world. 

The enriched content is filled with an introduction to both scientific concepts and unique ways of meeting the challenges of cultural differences.

The story and reading level is a best fit for ages eight and above. However, the illustrations are geared toward younger children. This inongruence may lessen the enthusiasm of older children.

As a bonus, Mr. Griffiths provides oral reading suggestions to parents and teachers to heighten interest of younger readers.

Five stars for the quality of writing and excellent illustrations.