Right after high school, I found myself sitting in a classroom taking classes to be a teacher rather than fulfilling my plans of becoming an accountant. This was not anything I had planned, but later I graduated with a teaching degree from Bluefield College, Bluefield, VA. I have taught for 20 years in a variety of settings including homeschooling, regular education, and currently special education.
When I began teaching, I taught as an elementary substitute teacher for a few years. Then I came home, and taught my children for seven years until they graduated from high school. During my children’s college years, I returned to teaching, and I also had the opportunity to return to college and earn my master’s degree in special education from Marshall University, Huntington, WV.
Now I teach struggling Kindergarten-Grade 3 students reading and math at a charter school in Durham, North Carolina. The best thing I love about teaching is teaching reading! When my ‘little ones’ first come to my resource room, I assess their current skills, discover the gaps in their foundation [which are there for various reasons], and then we get to work. The least likely reason for learning gaps is not that students are not sharp enough to learn to read. They are very sharp! They just need someone to put some ‘handy-dandy’ tools in their reading toolbox.
First, they have to learn to identify all the letters and their corresponding sounds. Second, they learn to write both uppercase/lowercase letters. Third, they learn to blend letters in the order they appear. Then they are off to reading words. These skills are foundational to reading, and until they master these skills, they usually default to the ‘guessing game.’ In reality to them, guessing is the best strategy they have in their toolbox because reading has been too difficult for them to figure out.
I have found that my students learn to read simply by teaching the above skills in a small group setting. Also, I hold them very accountable to reading the print as it actually appears on the page, and I make reading fun by playing games to break the ‘reading codes.’
As you browse my site, you will find that a lot of my products focus on reading syllable types. So if you are not for sure what syllable type to teach first, ‘Closed Syllables’ is a good starting point for beginning readers. ‘Closed Syllables’ make up approximately 50% of the English language. So if students master ‘Closed Syllables,’ they have a great foundation upon which to begin reading, and then the other syllable types can be introduced. Typically, after about six months, they enter the zone of reading, and when they do, it is so thrilling to see their awareness of a whole new world opening up to them.