I know, what a strange title, whatever could it mean? This year I am a Reading Specialist in the school district I was a kindergarten teacher in for 10 years. I am excited about the change but still not 100 percent sure what I got myself into. It is an exciting time for my district as this school year two new reading interventions were purchased. One is an intense comprehension intervention, LLI, and the other is a systematic phonics program (that can be used as an intervention), Wilson Fundations.
Both programs are amazing. I’ve been a fan of Fountas and Pinnell’s work for almost 15 year, when I first saw them at San Antonio for the first train the trainers workshop on their phonics program. I haven’t had a chance to teach an LLI lesson, but from the training I had, LLI includes all the components of the Literacy Collaborative Framework I so enjoyed when I was teaching first grade. In many ways, LLI reminds me of Reading Recovery but on a larger scale (groups of 3).
Wilson Fundations reminds we of Saxon Phonics. Saxon Phonics is a systematic phonics program that is very scripted and teaches many phonics rules (some of the rules that are taught are things that many other programs do not teach until second or third grade). Saxon included coding homework every night, which was difficult for families to help complete because the parents didn’t know the coding rules. Teaching Saxon Phonics to the whole class of first graders, as a first year teacher, was frustrating. I didn’t have the skills to differentiate the lessons that first year like I do now nor the student engagement strategies. I was very glad at the end of the year that my school had chosen to switch to a different program, one that leaded itself better to differentiation, didn’t feel like I was always teaching the to middle, and connected to real reading and writing. That’s not to say I didn’t learn a lot while teaching Saxon.
Now here’s where the title of this post comes into play.
While teaching Saxon, I finally learned some of the spelling rules I never really understood. Back story time… I was a struggling speller when I was in elementary school. I felt bad for my class as I was the reason they never got the spelling popcorn party at the end of the week. I was the reason we didn’t get extra recess on Friday–the teacher had to give the spelling test to those that didn’t pass the Wednesday pretest. Spelling was just hard for me. Oh who am I kidding, spelling is still hard for me. Now I understand why spelling, and decoding multisyllabic words, was so hard; I did not have a solid phonemic awareness base. I didn’t have enough opportunities to practice hearing and manipulating sounds in words.
To be continued…