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Learning to read can be compared to a tree developing roots and growing into a tree with healthy green leaves.  The leaves represent reading comprehension, a final goal of every reading program. 

To achieve this goal, the tree must first develop strong roots and those roots are:

  1. Phonemic Awareness:  knowing that words are made up of sounds (phonemes) and being able to hear the sounds in their order in words.  To have phonemic awareness, students must be able to orally blend (/s/ /u/ /n/ = sun) and segment (sun = /s/ /u/ /n/).  Slanted lines (/ /) mean that we say the sound of the letter, not the name.

  2. Code Knowledge:  There are about 81 common graphemes (letters and letter combinations) that represent the sounds of our language.  In order to be able to sound out words, children need to know the sounds (phonemes) represented by these graphemes.  “Graphemes” are what we see and “phonemes” are what we hear.

  3. Recognition of Sight Words:  Sight words are common words that children need to immediately recognize.  For fluent reading, children need to be able to quickly read the most common words.

Most children learning to read already have oral language, represented by the sun in the diagram.  The sun will shine brightly in the Reading Roots program and the children will continue to develop their oral language.

In order to develop their reading skills, children need to practice reading, as represented by the trunk of the tree.  Every day they need to read engaging texts of their choice and at their instructional level, including non-fiction books.  Through books and experiences, students need to continue to learn about the world.

As children continue to read and advance in reading levels, their reading vocabulary and fluency, as represented by the limbs of the tree, will improve. 

All these aspects combined will contribute to reading comprehension. Many of the activities in the Reading Roots program enhance reading comprehension. 

Although teachers will be able to continue on in many aspects of the Reading Roots program, it is not intended to be a complete Grade One Language Arts program.  The students will learn how to read and will form very strong roots, but teachers will need to use supplementary programs to further develop vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.  Gaining more general knowledge through other subjects and experiences will enhance reading comprehension.

When used for remedial reading, this program will give students a quick and strong start, but it is intended only for the beginning reading stages.  In the Reading Roots program students will learn how to decode words.  Many students experiencing difficulties in reading are unable to sound out unknown words, and that is the major factor that is holding them back.

In the same way, the Reading Roots program will give the children strong roots for writing.  These roots will be:

  1. Learning the correct formation of letters.
  2. Learning how to print neatly in lines.
  3. Learning how to spell common words.
  4. Learning how to segment words for spelling.
  5. Beginning a creative writing book, or journal, using above skills.

Students will need to continue to write daily and teachers will need to use supplementary programs to further develop writing skills.

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