Overcoming Dyslexia - Reading Program Helps
Discovery: A Line-item Program Match With Some Current Language Learning Premises as Described in Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz, MD.
Throughout this overview, page numbers cross-referenced from Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level signify a correspondence with methods, materials, and learning ideals employed by the Discovery educational tool.
- Linda Eversole, educational consultant, Reading Horizons, Inc.
Explicit and Systematic
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p. 200)
Discovery instructional methods, in line with the National Reading Panel Report, employs explicit, systematic strategies structured into a logical, sequential, and cumulative presentation. Previously learned skills serve as the springboard for learning new concepts, which in turn strengthen prior learning experiences. Upon course completion, most students can decode and pronounce unfamiliar words, regardless of length. Ongoing vocabulary instruction is naturally integrated throughout the program, and, as students orally construct sentences with new words, their understanding of word construct and meaning increases, incrementally.
Converting Print Into Phonetic Code
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p. 50)
Discovery demonstrates how print converts into linguistic code - via phonetic code. The instructor pronounces a letter sound then dictates the sound to students. Students verbally mime the dictated sounds then write the corresponding letter match, either on the chalkboard or on individual lapboards. This exercise demonstrates the relationship between the spoken phoneme and its printed correspondent. In the next step, phonemes are blended with a feature vowel sound. At this point, within the first two lessons, students begin forming three letter words. Letters are no longer meaningless marks on a paper but are transformed into meaningful bytes of language.
The Brain's Reliance on Patterns
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p. 84)
Discovery has developed a unique hands-on marking system, which helps students
- scrutinize internal word composition recognizing sound/symbol letter patterns;
- refine overall word attack skills.
(Research shows that rapid association between sound/letter patterns not only increases sight recognition but also accelerates the speed at which words are retrieved and stored in the brain.)
Identifying Internal Details of Words
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp. 103, 210)
Discovery, in conjunction with the introduction of selected consonants, introduces short vowel sounds before the long sounds. Following the introduction of long vowel concepts, students learn what this program describes as the Five Phonetic Skills. These skills are simply the main phonetic patterns forming most English words.
Engaging the same marking system used throughout the course, students learn to prove why vowels are either long or short, based on the surrounding word structure. Students mark and identify the letter sounds and patterns. Students read and pronounce the new word. Students emerge from the exercises empowered by language. Overcoming Dyslexia relates that learning to read is like solving a mystery, and the more clues (tools), we give students, the better they can perform. For most students, marking the five skills equips them with the clues necessary for breaking the code of English.
Storing Letter Chunks
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p.104)
Discovery engages a unique instructional sequence wherein new letters are introduced in sets consisting of four consonants and one vowel. The first letter set introduced consists A, B, F, D and G.
(For purposes that better match the learning objectives of Discovery for Yourself, the short vowel sound of /Aa /, and of the other vowels, are applied during the instruction of this particular early phase and its accompanying skill sets.)
Students first learn the name, sound and formation of the vowel A/a. When the first consonant, B/b, is introduced, students learn to slide from the sound of B/b to the A/a vowel sound, forming the two-letter slide b a. (/a/ assumes its short sound at this juncture.) As each successive consonant in that letter group is introduced, students learn to slide from the initial consonant to the vowel sound until they know all four slides: b a, f a, d a, and g a.
At this point, using the four consonants and the vowel A/a, three-letter word formation begins. Having mastered the b a slide, students can add the consonant G/g as an ending sound to form the word b a g, or the consonant D/d to form b a d, or, use the consonant F/f for the nonsense word b a f. Later, as blends are introduced, students can form slides that include two and/or three letter blends like c l a, and form words like c l a m, c l a d, c l a p; s t r u, s t r u m, s t r u t.
Each time new words are dictated, students examine word structure identifying letters, blends, and vowels, (later digraphs, R-controlled vowels, etc.). Spelling becomes a natural extension of listening to dictation and of writing corresponding letter sounds and words. Through use of direct, multi-sensory instruction, and accompanying discussion proper word pronunciation and meaning is reinforced. Students are also asked to use the word, orally, in a sentence. Increased vocabulary is commensurate with reading and spelling skills.
Decoding Unfamiliar Words
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p.104)
A review of the instructional sequence ofDiscovery:
- hear words correctly pronounced, as dictated by the instructor,
- write and analyze the inner structure of words using the unique marking system employed throughout the course,
- talk about the meaning of words and use them in orally constructed sentences,
- use Reverse Listening Cards developed to give additional practice and to strengthen independent work,
- read words in guided, oral reading.
At this point in structured language learning, students have experienced many explicit exposures to words that have joined other words, which constitute their internal lexicon.
Phonologic Memory and RAN
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.145-6)
The direct instruction, dictation, employed within Discovery for Yourself requires students temporarily store bits of verbal information. Sometimes words are pronounced and students identify and write the sounds/letters, and sometimes words are spelled, and students must retain the individual letters to write the words. Either way provides good practice and strengthens phonologic memory.
The RAN test is found on Discovery computer courseware practice sessions. Students are given 1/10th of a second to view a slide, letter, or word to which they have been exposed and properly identify it. RAN helps students identify familiar combinations, quickly. If unable to make the correct identification, the computer automatically allows a little more time until correct choices are made.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.144, 182-7)
Discovery employs direct instruction, a dictation process in which letters, blends, words are dictated to students. The student must then segment the spoken word into its sounds and transform each sound into a letter. In reading, the letters are again converted into sounds, which are then blended together to form the word. Through the dictation process, students are actively engaged in both segmenting and blending - encoding and decoding - on a regular basis.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, p.190, 218-20, 263)
Discovery teaches 139 high-frequency words referred to as Most Common Words. Many of these words are commonly referred to as sight words. To aid in the memorization of these words, Reverse Listening cards, Most Common Word wall charts, and Most Common Word practice cards are provided. The greatest aid to memorization, however, is that once the Five Phonetic Skills are taught, Discovery helps the students learn to analyze each sight word from a linguistic standpoint rather than depending solely upon rote memory.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.38, 124, 329-30)
Discovery strongly encourages children to actively participate, writing at the chalkboard. Teachers dictate the name or sound of a letter (later words) twice. Students repeat the sound twice then turn and write the appropriate letter, once, on the chalkboard. This process employs students' learning modalities: listening, speaking, fine-tuning motor skill tasks at the chalkboard (kinesthetic), and also using the tactile functions while writing. Many kindergarten teachers relate that daily board work helps children transfer handwriting skills more readily to paper and that they exhibit a higher quality of handwriting from regularly using the larger motor skills.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.305-6)
Discovery provides a complete section of games and activities to reinforce skills taught in every lesson. Teachers can choose from games and activities listed according to the skill they reinforce; for example, there are games that teach phonemic awareness, reinforce three letter words, teach blends, help internalize the phonetic skills, etc. Suggestions are also listed in an Enrichment Section following each lesson.
Each section in the manual provides lists of literature promoting phonemic awareness, rhyming, letter-sound association, etc., and activities are suggested that involve the entire class, such as building B-hives, L - ladders, or using the 'blender,' when blends are introduced.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.54-8, 103-5, 236-41)
As soon as the first three letter word, bag, is formed, the Discovery for Yourself process requires the word be defined and used in oral, student composed sentences. Vocabulary development becomes a natural outcome of highly interactive direct instruction.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.116-17)
Discovery builds confidence and self-esteem. Younger students move through the material with understanding; special education students can be mainstreamed back into the classroom; older students and adults recognize that within the first few lessons they, too, can learn to read and that the logic of English makes sense.
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.230-5, 270-81)
Discovery is not marketed as a comprehensive reading program, rather, a strong supplementary phonics intervention. However, some aspects of the program aspects lend themselves, strongly, to accomplishing the goals of fluency and guided reading.
The teacher selects a sentence or paragraph from a Reverse Listening Card, appropriate for the class skill level. Students have already been exposed to many words included within the paragraph during dictation portions lessons. Students decode or 'prove' the words on the board, talk about word meanings and apply them in orally composed sentences. Following dictation, the teacher models by reading the paragraph aloud, and the students read along, aloud, also. The paragraph can then go home with students to be read to parents, and, can be practiced the following day, in class, with other students.
The advantage of this type of guided reading is that students have experienced examining the inner details of words while working at the board. They understand how feature words work and know their meanings. All words within the paragraph - even sight words - have been introduced, analyzed, and fall within students' skill levels. Students experience success, and their confidence grows!
Overall Essentials of an Effective Intervention Program
(Overcoming Dyslexia, pp.30-1, 258-60, 262-8)
Discovery meets all essential requirements outlined for early reading intervention for potential problems. However, we recommend it used by entire classes, K-3. In several elementary schools, it is initially used in K through 6, because so many children have not been exposed to the benefits of phonics. In schools where Discovery is taught K-3, student scores show tremendous gains: the program is also used widely in middle schools, high schools, community colleges, workplace literacy centers, corrections facilities, and other adult settings.