"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Must-Read For Anyone Involved In Teaching Literacy

I read this book in two days!  Having two children with dyslexic tendencies, I am always interested in reading books that claim to have "the solution".  I finally get why traditional spelling programs fail our children and what to do about it.

The book Uncovering the Logic of English by Denise Eide is the most concise appraisal and explanation of the English language I have ever read.  It clearly lays out the foundation of our language, the phonogram, along with the 30 spelling rules used to assemble those sound pictures (what a phonogram really is) into words.  English is NOT an illogical language and her book proves it.

Really, I have tried many programs, including Orton-Gillingham and methods based on Romalda Spaldings' Writing Road to Reading.  While we landed on Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri and have seen much progress, there are still too many "exceptions" for my logical, science minded kids.  Logical kids like to know the rules and possibilities up front instead of constantly being faced with "exceptions" or more new rules at every turn.

I'm going to go out on a limb and link two books together.  The last book I recommended, "10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child," the author distills for the reader where rote memorization is necessary and not in the chapter titled, "Why Truth Is Your Enemy, and the Benefits of the Vague or Gradgrind, without the Facts."  Rote memorization has its place.  And, when used in it's place leads to developing a logical, efficient, yet imaginitive thinker.  Our schools have dropped rote memorization for the important things like math facts, poetry, music and phonograms, in place of rote memorization of words (sight or whole word reading), spelling lists, as well as facts on history and science.  Eide is not shy in saying we MUST, MUST, MUST have our children memorize those phonograms and associated spelling rules in order for them to truly understand the logic of English.  Once they have those phonograms and rules memorized, they can logically spell AND decode words, thus improving their literacy.

I don't know about you, but I would rather give my child the tools to figure out how to spell and read rather than fill their brain with only a few of the words they need to survive, as whole word reading does.  And, memorizing spelling words doesn't work for anyone but the visual learner.  Visual learners can memorize the "shape" of the word, not the way the word is constructed with a roots and affixes.  Most kids that learn by this method run out of "capacity" and stop advancing in their reading and spelling skills past the fourth grade.

The author mentions she will have a curriculum available in the Fall of 2011.  I look forward to seeing it.  If it follows the logic in the book, it will be a "logical" next step for my family.


RealMom4Life said...

As more of a math minded person myself, I LOVE spelling rules. I love being able to tell my kids the spelling rules. I have wasted way too much money throughout the years buying spelling programs that I didn't intend to use....I was just looking for something with all the rules. And..I ended up buying many things with SOME of the rules.

Thanks for posting this.

BTW: I am really enjoying the How to Destroy your Child's Imagination book. My oldest saw it laying around and brought it to me wondering, "What are you doing?" As an incredibly imaginative teen she was quite disturbed by this. She didn't catch the humor in the title - nor did she appreciate once I explained it :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just saw your blog. I am living out of the country and am homeschooling my 6yo in English. I am not homeschooling full time, though, so I cannot spend hours everyday with her on this subject. I do about 1/2 to 1 hour 4 days a week formally in addition to family reading and other informal activities. I have looked
at the Spell to Write and Read program as well and am trying to make a final decision on which to use. This program looks more user friendly and flexible to me. Is that your impression? If you could only choose one program given my needs, which would you choose? Thanks--Ayelet HaShachar
Maale Adummim, Israel

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog. I am living in the Middle East right now and am homeschooling my 6yo in English Language. Since she attends a local school during the day, I cannot put hours everyday into her English education. I work about 1/2 to an hour 4 days a week formally, and informally at the dinner table, store, family reading, etc. I am also looking at the Spell to Write and Read program that you are using. The Logic of the English Language seems to have many of the advantages of the SWR, but seems more flexible and user friendly. Since you are familiar with both, what would you recommend in a situation such as mine? Thanks for your input--

Ayelet HaShachar Birulin
Maale Adummim, Israel