“To be or not to be that is the Question!”
Reciting 99% of this well known quote requires absolutely no reading ability.
All but one word in this quote consist of high-frequency sight words that children are required to memorize.
Yet, not knowing how to read the 1% word representation in this statement is a perfect example of an
Memorization teaching requires no letter-sound training, decoding knowledge or sounding out skills. There are approximately 220 commonly used sight words that children are trained to memorize by sight, preferably by the conclusion of second grade.
However, the ability to read low-frequency words that make up the minority of written text is the key to understanding what is being read and necessary for reading success.
Struggling readers taught to read by sight not letter-sound are in need of REHABILITATION.
Labels such as reading challenged, reading disabilities, dyslexia reading need to be addressed and aided with an intensive focused reading intervention program.
Reflex Learned Behavior – Reading Habits
Studies show that whatever method is learned first develops a learning response or automatic reflex and is
very resistant to change. A child initially coached to sound out words looks to the INNER structure of a word and automatically utilizes their decoding skills, which allows them to focus on comprehension.
IN COMPARISON, a student taught by other methods must multitask or depend on using a combination of reading strategies like pictures, guessing, title clues, rhyming, word-shapes or word memorization. This type of reader must constantly divide their attention between the appropriate strategies to use prior to focusing on comprehension.
REHABILITATION – Behavior Modification Training
Sight Word Elimination (SWE) *Edward Miller SWE Method Founder
By removing sight words, pictures and titles (non-reading sound-less crutches) and reinforcing the *SOS (sound-out-steps) decoding, trains the reader to use letter-sound phonics skills which improves reading speed and comprehension accuracy.
SWE USAGE WARNING:
A struggling reader placed in an environment where phonetic knowledge MUST be used without the support of memorized sight words or other sound-less crutches can be emotionally difficult at first. During SWE rehabilitation a reader 2-3 grade skill levels behind their peers may initially become frustrated, agitated and oftentimes tearful if this therapy is not handled with care and understanding. After much intensive SWE drilling and practice the reader will eventually make a ‘mental switch’ to phonetic decoding and ideally an improvement in reading and understanding. Any training to correct a reading deficiency must be intensive, systematic and complete; this retraining to make the mental switch to phonetic decoding takes a lot of hard work!
AFTER a word-guessing, sight-word reading student is tutored with a full set of SOS decoding skills:
all stories and reading passages should be first presented in SWE format where the student has to decode every single word. This simple behavior modification process will produce remarkable results after 60 hours
of structured intensive sessions.
With regard to illiteracy solutions to improve reading skills for struggling students of all ages, the SWE method is straight-forward, simple, inexpensive and effective!
SWE Format Training Example:
The following short story called “How the Coyote Stole Fire” consists of a total of 316 words. You’ll note that 169 words representing 53% of the text consist of sight-words and 147 words representing 47% of the text consist of decodable words.
1. Using the 7 puzzle pieces method of breaking down and identifying the sounds-inside-of-words, I typically select and pre-review words that I believe students will have a problem in both the pronunciation of and definition.
2. Without revealing what the story is about or what the title is, I list the review words on a dry erase board
(or sheet of paper) for breakdown and discussion.
Sample Story Review Words:
coyote teepees selfishly trickster mountaintop powerful
3. Two copies of the SWE version of the story are presented: 1 for student, 1 for teacher.
I then conduct two separate one minute timed readings and record all words read correctly.
Cold Score: first timed reading of raw text
Hot Score: second timed reading of now familiar text
NOTE: After the first reading, I quickly show students the words they mispronounce
and allow for brief decoding comments if necessary.
Sight-Words-Eliminated (SWE) Timed Reading Activity
4. Here is the full text of the story: Repeat step #3 Give and record two 1-minute timed readings.
How the Coyote Stole Fire
Because many students are distracted by the words-per-line column on the right-hand side, I typically delete this column off of their copies
Tracking Words-per-Minute (wpm)
Purest form of Comprehension & Fluency Evaluation:
Studies show that wpm reading rates are closely linked to a student’s comprehension ability. The longer it takes a student to read something becomes a drain on both mental energy and memory and requires a great deal of undivided attention.
Typically struggling readers, frequently hesitate, have difficulty sounding out words, and spend a large amount of time mispronouncing and/or guessing. Because it takes so long to read a passage oftentimes they can’t remember what they’ve just read let alone comprehend what the story is about.
Reading has to happen faster than you can think about it.
WPM (words per minute)
Research Nationwide Grade Level Recommendation
Grade 1: early year rate 40 wpm -- end year rate 60 wpm
Grade 2: early year rate 50 wpm -- end year rate 95 wpm
Grade 3: early year rate 110 wpm -- end year rate 120 wpm
Grade 4: early year rate 120 wpm -- end year rate 150 wpm
Prison Building Forecast
There are some states that determine how many prison cells to build based upon the reading scores of third graders. With unfortunate accuracy, projections of how many prisons will be needed twenty years from now can be determined by the reading failure rate of 8-year old children. By age 7 observant parents may realize that their child is not actually reading but guessing and/or memorizing, but more times than not this crucial time for reading intervention slips through the cracks. In any event YES WE CAN eliminate prison building fundraising planning by methodically teaching all children the mechanics of reading by way of letter-sound relationships.