All entries by this author

The Challenge of the Squiggly Lines

Jan 11th, 2013 | By

The Challenge of the Squiggly Lines Providing staff development offers many opportunities to interact with educators. Some are willing to share their thinking during the training sessions via questions and statements that call for “clarification”. Some thoughts and/or questions reflect a sense of doubt or skepticism, while some are just searching for confirmation of their thoughts & ideas. One of the concerns that is expressed during Visual Phonics trainings involves the thought that adding written symbols under print will confuse students, more so for those who struggle with the “code” of English and are already confused by the variability of the sounds that letters represent. This concern is logical from the perspective of educators whose concept of early literacy skills is founded in letter knowledge, with letter-sound knowledge in a secondary position of importance. I have given this question a great deal of thought through the years. The fear of confusing students with additional characters in the print field would appear to be valid if students viewed both letters and Visual Phonics written symbols as the same kind of “squiggly lines” on the page. At first glance, both are squiggly lines that represent something and that is where the similarity [...]



Sorting Things Out – An Update

Jun 24th, 2012 | By

Organizing is hard-wired into our brains – our brains love patterns and repetition.  The concept of similarity, or sameness, is a basic organizing strategy . . . a way to be aware of and recognize common characteristics of things seen, heard, or felt.  With the awareness of sameness comes the awareness of difference, another basic organizing strategy. Information that is sorted out through the process of comparing & contrasting (thinking about the similarities and the differences) has high storage strength, and as a result, also has high retrieval strength. The underlying cognitive constructs of polarity, category inclusion and exclusion, are part of the brain’s hard-wired organizational default.  In education, we use the terms “alike”, “same”, “go together” and “not different” to teach and reinforce “sameness”, while the terms “different”, “don’t go together”, and “not the same” teach and reinforce “difference”.  Other ways to express the idea of inclusion include “goes with” and “belongs”, while exclusion can be expressed by “doesn’t go with” or “doesn’t belong”. These very basic concepts of inclusion and exclusion can be infused into the literacy process of connecting sound to print through the use of Visual Phonics hand shapes and symbols, beginning as early as pre-school.  [...]



Utility Is the Key

Apr 7th, 2012 | By

Utility directly impacts the lasting recall of Visual Phonics hand shape cues and written symbols. Thoughtful and purposeful use of hand shapes and written symbols can be plugged in to daily dynamic routines of review, daily reinforcement activities involving coding with Visual Phonics symbols, and the use of visual references/charts. Utility is established for teachers when the Visual  Phonics cues become an effective teaching tool . . . and for students when the cues become an effective learning tool. Teachable moments – those unexpected instances when students appear confused, provide a “wrong” answer, or perhaps just don’t know -  provide excellent opportunities to connect sound and print with either Visual Phonics hand shapes or written symbols, and are often more powerful learning experiences than planned lessons. The decision about when, how much and how often to use Visual Phonics is based on how well teachers know their students and how observant teachers are relative to student understanding and response. Visual Phonics written symbols can be easily integrated into Word Walls, Sound Walls, Word family posters, and Sight Word displays. Specific information on implementation ideas can be found in a collection of articles under the Visual  Phonics tab on the Home [...]



How to Facilitate Children’s Learning

Apr 6th, 2012 | By

By Dave Krupke and Jeff Knox Education is generally a series of adults asking questions – this has been so since the time of Socrates. Questions are asked with the hope or even expectation that the children will respond with answers that adults have pre-conceived, either by their own thoughts or based on what a subject-area curriculum tells them the answer should be. It can also be said that adults don’t ask questions for which they don’t know the answers. For adults, “sameness” is important – we want children to have the same answers as we do. Some educators feel it is important for children  to be able to explore their world and come up with their own reality. For this to happen, in the home or in a classroom, there must be a sense of shared learning – a perception on the part of both adult and child that curiosity and discovery are fun and have utility for making sense of the world. Shared learning, especially with young children, occurs when adults limit the number of direct questions they ask, such as “what’s this called . . . or what color is that?” When adults ask pointed questions, there [...]



There’s More To Learning the Alphabet Than Letter Names

Apr 3rd, 2012 | By

By Dave Krupke During four decades of service as a public-school speech-language pathologist in the mid-west, I have been in many preschool program settings – both regular education and special education. I have seen many focused attempts to teach letter names to 3, 4 and 5 year old children, ranging from making letters in sand tables, in shaving cream, with Elmer’s glue, with chalk, with large crayons, with markers, and by tracing a letter made from sandpaper. There were many teacher attempts to associate these letters with student names in the class and with common objects, but it dawned on me just a few years ago that there was one thing missing – there was little or no purposeful attempt to associate the letter sound with the letter name! As a result, I began asking teachers about why they did not specifically facilitate letter-sound knowledge and the typical response was that they thought that letter names needed to be taught first and the children would learn the sounds later. It struck me that this was a stark example of an unintentional instructional mismatch – the adult concept that letter names should be taught first in a systematic, linear way in [...]



Welcome to Sound Principles for Literacy

Mar 3rd, 2012 | By

A career-long collection of “best practices” for educators and thought-provoking wisdom needed a collective entity and a place to be. A moment of inspiration yielded the collective entity – Sound Principles for Literacy, and the “best place to be” was the internet. Sound Principles is a play on words. “Sound” is a critical part of literacy – it brings life to oral language when we speak, read, and write. Knowing the sounds that letters represent and being able to make sense of the print “code” of English is essential to being literate. “Sound” also means “having a firm basis . . . valid . . . worthy of confidence”.  While there is information on this site is about See the Sound/Visual Phonics, a “sound” strategy for literacy and speech skills, “sound” instruction also takes into account the melding of science & education relative to the brain, the movement-learning connection, and attitudes of both teachers and students. This web site is a snap shot of who I am, my interests and what I love. There are many things I enjoy  – writing, reading, music, fitness, photography, and “wisdoms” to name a few. I also love the challenge of “connecting the dots” [...]



We’re Lost But We’re Making Good Time

Jan 13th, 2012 | By

By Dave Krupke The title is one of the many famous quotes from Yogi Berra. I remember watching Yogi play for the storied Yankees of the 50s. Baseball was different then, as were many things. Life was simpler in the 50s, education was pretty basic, and many of us did OK. At least where I grew up in rural America, I would say most of us did OK . . .  because I do remember a few kids in my school who really had trouble learning and there didn’t seem to be any extra help for them. My, how things have changed today. We have Title One, Learning Strategists, Literacy Coaches, Resource Teachers, Reading Specialists, Interventionists, RTI Consultants . . . just to name a few. Education has endured – or should I say that students have managed to survive – numerous shifts in educational philosophy in the 50 years since I was a student in school. I was lucky enough to learn to read easily and have many fond memories of riding my bike to the library and going up what seemed to be an endless and steep staircase to the library – it was above the fire station [...]



What In the World Is a tuopuh?

May 31st, 2011 | By

There are two kinds of sounds in English – sounds that are voiced (the voice is on) and sounds that are voiceless (the voice is off). There are 16 single consonants and consonant digraphs that are voiced: /b/, /d/, /g/, /j/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /q/, /r/, /v/, /w/, /y/, /z/, and /th/ (as in “the”, “this” & “their”) There are 8 single and 3 consonant digraphs that are voiceless (just air as if whispered): /c/, /ch/, /f/, /h/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /sh/, /t/, /x/ and /th/ (as in “thumb”, “birthday” and “mouth”) It is essential that teachers NOT do two things when teaching the sounds of letters: Voiced sounds, by the nature of being “voiced”, already have an /uh/ (aka – schwa) after the letter sound. For example, the sound of the letter B sounds like “buh” and the hard G sounds like “guh”. The key is that the “uh” needs to be very short, so teachers should NOT hold on to the “uh” sound. Actually, the only voiced sounds that have the hint of “uh” would be B, D, G, J, Q, W and Y. The M, N, R, V, Z and voiced TH letter sounds do not have [...]



Do We Have to Go Back?

May 17th, 2011 | By

What needs to happen when a student is struggling with the application of phonemic awareness skills needed to establish the neural connections for reading and writing? If we look at early literacy skills as being somewhat sequential, one could pose that these students need to “go back” to re-establish the foundational literacy skills of phonological awareness. That may mean going to Title One Reading or Tier 2 RTI targeted interventions or a reading support program and just focusing on phonological awareness, with the hope that these targeted interventions would transfer back to what is being done and expected in the regular classroom.  While that may seem logical on some level, consider whether the focus of the process is to teach “lessons and concepts” in isolation, with the hope that they transfer, or “discover” those same concepts within the text of reading stories, social studies, science, math, or better yet, in environmental print. Should we take students back to work on shoring phonological awareness skills up as a separate lesson or set of activities? During a recent conversation with Randall Klein, Founder of Early Reading Mastery, this very question came up and resulted in a lengthy and invigorating exchange of thoughts [...]



Sleep On It

Apr 24th, 2011 | By

Found in a recent issue of AARP Magazine: our brains recall new information better if, after learning it, we get a good night’s rest or take a nap – this is according to recent research by Harvard Medical School.