Hi, I am Jeannine Herron, a research neuropsychologist living in San Rafael, California. I have been the principal investigator on four reading research studies funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and I have developed a line of educational software that helps children ages 6-9 learn how to read, write and type.

Through this blog I hope to share my passion for education and the things I have learned over the years as a researcher, teacher, mother and now, a software developer. My goal is to make reading fun for young learners, and help them develop the habits and skills that will assist them in learning for years to come.



Recommended Reading

alphabet

While Jeannine takes a break from blogging this holiday week, here are some good blog posts to check out:

  • SchoolFamily.com has some great articles, like these:
  • The ASCD Community Blog assesses the “Language of Thinking” in this article, examining the words that teachers use in the classroom when teaching children.

Wishing all of our readers a happy holiday season!

A Simple Gift That Lasts for a Lifetime: Teach Your Kids to Read

At this time of gift-giving, when money is tight, why not give your child a gift that won’t cost you anything but time and love, and will last a lifetime.  Here is a recipe for getting started:

There are 18 FREE decodable booklets in pdf form on our website.

Print out the first booklet “IS IT A CAT?”  Look at the first book together, and read it to your child.  But don’t try to have your child memorize the appearance of words or “read” the book until you have played together making words.

The secret of learning to read is understanding how to make words first! If your child can arrange letter tiles to create the words in the first booklet, he or she is well on the way to understanding how letters are used to represent the sounds in words—and that is the key to reading! (more…)

Are you teaching phonics backwards?

“One of the most fundamental flaws found in almost all phonics programs, including traditional ones, is that they teach the code backwards.  That is, they go from letter to sound instead of from sound to letter.”

Louisa Moats, 1998

What do you think about this quote from Louisa Moats?

phonics

How do you teach phonics? Method A or B?  Why?

A. Print-to-Speech. Letters-to-sounds. Decoding.

Teach the alphabet song.

Associate 26 visual letters with their names.

Then teach letter sounds.

Decode a familiar word together, like CAT by identifying each letter, saying the sound that is associated with that letter, and blending the sounds together.  If the blended sounds resemble the word, the word is decoded as CAT.

Use flash cards to practice letter names, and words.

B. Speech-to-Print.  Sounds-to-letters. Encoding.

Start with a familiar spoken word, like CAT

Segment together the three sounds in the word.

From a few letter tiles, find the letters that stand for those sounds. Arrange the tiles to represent (encode) the sequence of sounds in CAT. Mix up the letters until the child arranges them correctly. Read the word. Discuss other words in the same family, like FAT or HAT.  By working with other Consonant-Vowel-Consonant words, eventually the child learns the letters that represent the 40 sounds of English.  Encode words first, then decode (read) what has been written.

How do YOU teach early reading?   Let’s have a discussion!

Writing with a pencil is difficult…

pencilsWriting with a pencil is difficult……

You have to remember what the letters look like….

You have to draw the letters….

You  have to erase…

You have to copy over…

computer

Writing with a computer can make it easier…

You don’t have to draw the letters….just tap the right key.

You don’t have to erase…just delete and type over.

You don’t have to copy over…

You can read what you’ve written…

The text always goes from left to right…

Why not start with writing?

Writing is a system humans have invented to make speech visible.

Our English alphabet is a way of drawing sounds.

typing

Words must be written before they can be read.

Why not start with writing?

Struggling readers do not improve by “silent reading” in class

Jan HasbrouckI was recently sent an article by Jan Hasbrouck in which she discusses reading fluency and the pervasive use of Sustained Silent Reading and Round Robin Reading. These are strategies that teachers are using to develop fluency in struggling readers.

She says,

“Developing fluency among struggling readers takes more intensive, carefully guided practice than either of these strategies can deliver.”

Jan makes a very persuasive case that these instructional strategies take up significant amounts of classroom time with dubious benefit. She quotes Marilyn Adams as saying, “if we want to induce children to read lots, we must also teach them to read well.”

Classroom time will be better spent building decoding skills and providing one-on-one guided oral reading.

A good computer program for guided oral reading is “Soliloquy”, designed by Marilyn Adams, (then renamed “Reading Assistant”). Find the program online at scilearn.com. The software actually listens to a child reading aloud and provides appropriate help.

Reader Survey

Readers

I am new at this blogging thing. And delighted to have some readers! Would you mind answering some questions so I can improve my blogging? I’d also be happy to answer questions you might have.

1) What category of post do you appreciate the most (ex: research, education, parenting, software, phonics, disorders)?

2) Do you prefer long or short posts?

3) Do you share these blog posts on other social networks?

4) What could I do to improve the usability of this blog?

5) How did you first find this blog?

Feel free to answer any of these questions in the comment field. I hope this helps me to serve you better.

Best,

Jeannine

Rhyming games to play with your children

Rhyming GamesSusan Maguire is a retired kindergarten teacher and blogs at “Together Time 4 Families“. This post titled “4 Sound Awareness Activities for Your Preschooler” has some good ideas for developing a young child’s awareness of the sounds in words.  Rhyming and listening for beginning sounds are fun, especially if you make them into a game.

Here’s an additional idea:  Make up your own endings to nursery rhymes as a game to play in the car or wandering around the grocery store.

Your child can fill in the blank! For example:

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such sport.

And the dish ran away with the ___(spoon).

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the house.

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the cat ran away with the ___(mouse).

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the man.

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the pot ran away with the ____(pan).

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the stork

The little dog laughed to see such sport

And the knife ran away with the ____(fork). Etc.

Learning (not memorizing) will make reading FUN

This blog post from Imagination Soup suggests as the first of 5 ideas for kids who hate to read:

“1. MODEL. Read the page or sentences first.  Have your child repeat.”

This strategy may help a child memorize the appearance of the words.  It does not give a child tools to decipher words on his own.

Research shows that children need to learn phoneme awareness (to identify each sound in a word) and phonics (to associate each of those 40 sounds with the letter(s) that stand for that sound).  Then they can sound-out words on their own.  The next paragraphs explain why I think it’s important for parents and teachers to understand this research:

kids readingIf a child hates reading, perhaps it is because the way he is being taught sets up inefficient pathways in the brain. Inefficient processing makes reading hard work, and not fun (no matter how interesting the subject matter). (more…)

A Story to Explain Brain Research About Reading

A Typical Day in a Brain Research Lab

The machine was familiar to her now, but it was still amazing to think that it could take a picture of her son’s brain while he was reading!  Johnny was lying down inside the machine, and she could hear him answering questions that the doctor was asking.

Ann sat down to wait and thought about all that had happened in the last couple of months. Her son had been having a hard time in second grade.  She knew she had to do something about it when he came home crying, saying that everyone else knew how to read, and he just didn’t get it.

“I’m just stupid”, he had sobbed.  “I’m never going to learn how to read!”

His teacher told her that Johnny was quite bright, but that he did have trouble reading.  She suggested that Ann might look into the reading research project that was going on in the neuroscience department at the nearby university.  At first Ann was skeptical that brain research would be of any help to Johnny, but she noticed that they were also providing special instruction.  Luckily, she came to a decision that would change Johnny’s life.

(more…)

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