Testimonials by Teachers
As a teacher of upper elementary students, I have always known that some students were lacking in the phonemic awareness and phonics skills necessary to fluently put word parts and sounds together when reading. Yet since there have been very few curricular pieces focusing on phonics in the upper grades, I have always felt at a loss for tools to help students. Visual Phonics is unique in that we can work on coding words together (written symbols) and using the hand shape cues while learning to isolate sounds as we connect them to spelling patterns and vocabulary. We look at how the written symbols are different in the different pronunciations as we also examine differences in meaning, usage and parts of speech.The cooperative learning and shared discovery has been beneficial to all my students, no matter what their reading level.
Visual Phonics is allowing students to more easily isolate sounds and raise their awareness of the subtle sound differences in many words. They are beginning to use this information to “take a better guess” at a pronunciation or spelling of a new word. Each week we are spending time writing the written symbols for vowel sounds, and practicing hand shapes as we focus on spelling patterns and meaning. Breaking words apart in this manner has helped me to see how crucial these early skills are in the acquisition of reading fluency. Suzette, 6th grade teacher, Iowa
Visual Phonics has significantly changed the way I look at literacy skills, especially in the area of high-frequency and oral vocabulary words. Teaching children to “memorize” or “just know” sight words was often frustrating to me, but I did not know how to go about helping kids understand how to make sense of these rule-breaking words. Visual Phonics has given me a whole new way to approach not only teaching sight words, but also helping children better understand how the sounds in our language work . . . that sound is mapped to print when we read and write.
I use the Visual Phonics written symbols to code words for large group, small group, and individual settings, and regularly us the hand shape cues to help student spell and read words. Weekly vocabulary words are coded and students are encouraged to figure the words out based on the written symbols – the same procedure is used for new words or names in math and other content areas. It is great to see children, who before would not try a “big word”, really try to decode these words! The words hold so much more meaning for them if they are engaged in discovery.
During small group work on sight words, the children code words with me. It is amazing how well this works! For each word, we practice making the hand shapes with me and the students code each word (using written symbols) themselves, with my guidance. Some children are using the written symbols to code words on their own. One student told his parents that we are “writing sign language”. Debra, 1st grade teacher, Iowa
I love using Visual Phonics . . . it is one of the best “tools” that I give my students . . . it is amazing to see the students progress. Carla, Kindergarten teacher, Iowa
Visual Phonics has given me a broader sense of literacy skill development. The hand shapes enhance students’ ability to “see” the sound as they are learning how sounds and words work. Visual Phonics has changed how I present letters and sounds to my students. Prior to Visual Phonics, I focused on letter names first and letter sounds second. Since incorporating Visual Phonics into my teaching, I understand the power of teaching letter sounds first and then attaching the letter name. Kathy, Reading Specialist, Iowa
I had a lot of success with Visual Phonics this year. I found that all students benefited, but in different ways. My top students had a “secret code” to use in communicating with one another. My low students relied heavily on the movements as another trigger to help them produce the sounds. The “wigglers” had a socially acceptable outlet. I found VP to be a valuable tool. I am eager to see what I can do this year since I will be using VP from the start (as opposed to starting in Oct./Nov). My students were also writing earlier and braver in their efforts. My lowest ELA score in May was 100/127 which is higher than previous years.
Most impressive was my student with the brain injury. We worked with her, tracking her progress carefully. VP helped her immensely. She scored 103/127 on the ELA in May. Her fall score was 11/127. She made so many gains that when we looked at entitling her, she was too high. I am anxious to see how she does next year — to see how VP influences future readers. Margie, Kindergarten teacher, Iowa
I taught See The Sound/Visual Phonics to my second grade students. I was very impressed with the success my students demonstrated in learning consonant blends, digraphs, and vowel diphthongs. The students were able to use the hand shape cues to make a kinesthetic connection between the letters and sounds. The hand shape cues help students “see the sound” and learn quickly. I taught my students to also use their hand shapes during their independent writing. I saw great improvement with their spelling, as a result.
Presently, I am using See the Sound/Visual Phonics to teach my kindergarten students letters and sounds. When modeling & teaching the hand shape, I am able to connect the student to the proper articulatory movement. It helps students produce the sound correctly and learn the sound quickly.
See the Sound/Visual Phonics is a great strategy that can be woven into any program for high student achievement at multiple grade levels. Tonia, Elementary Teacher, Nebraska
I have never had a group of children learn the sounds so quickly. Karen, Elementary American Schools Teacher in China
I would like to tell you about a student who came to our K class at the end of November. He had been in pre-school, but should have started the year in kindergarten. He knew very few letters and fewer sounds. Of course we had already been through the whole alphabet. We reviewed with him and we also had him start Title I Reading in January – Visual Phonics was used in my classroom and in Title One Reading. On January 5, he knew 11 capital letters and 8 sounds to go along with those, 12 lower case letters and 9 sounds. At the beginning of March, he knew 21 capital letters and 19 sounds and 16 lower case letters and 16 sounds.
The interesting thing is that he knows some of the sounds and phrases that we use from K-WAC but not the name of the letter. For those letters he does not know at all, if I show him the Visual Phonics hand shape, he can say it. We are very pleased with his growth, even though he is still behind the others. I don’t think he would be as far along if it were not for Visual Phonics as another tool for him. Lori, Kindergarten teacher, Iowa
I have seen an impressive growth in sight word knowledge amongst my lowest readers, as all have improved their sight words. Sight word growth averaged 29 words from January (pre-Visual Phonics) to March. I have also seen an impact on students’ motivation during group time. Students who were rarely engaged during our phonics mini-lessons are now up on their knees, making hand shapes and calling out sounds as I frantically try to keep up with them!
I have also seen in improvement in their writing. They are hearing many more sounds than before and are able to connect those sounds to letters. I can read their writing like never before. Using the underwriting strategy has helped also. This strategy has motivated some of my reluctant writers – it feels almost like a game to go back and fill in the spaces. They are so proud to see they’ve filled a page with their writing and they (and I!) can go back and read it.
In general, the amount of time I spend working with children on phonological awareness and phonics activities is the same. However, I feel the quality of this time has improved drastically. When I have a student struggling with sight words, I have a research-based, concrete strategy to guide them. When I have a reluctant writer, I have hand shapes to help us stretch out the word and write down sounds so they can see their writing and feel success.
Much of what I do in my day is planned around brain research. I use lamps instead of the fluorescent lights because research has shown soft lighting calms children with sensory issues and behavior problems. I keep my instruction time very short to go along with the research that children can attend to a task for about the same amount of minutes as they are years old. I have very little purchased material on my walls. Research has shown that if students don’t see the material and have a learning experience connected to it, they don’t use it. My walls are covered with things we’ve done together this year. Their learning is anchored to the walls. I’ve started using underwriting on a regular basis with many of my students. This helps their brains understand that each space should hold a word. Underwriting has motivated some of most reluctant writers who would spend their Working on Writing time drawing elaborate pictures, but getting no words down on paper. I am amazed at how they have taken the strategy and made it their own independent activity. I see children counting out their sentences on their fingers to see how many spaces to make. I see them rereading their work to see what word needs to come next – something I’d tried to teach them to no avail several times before. Visual Phonics has been a perfect fit in my brain-researched classroom. It has given me confidence in teaching reading and writing to first graders. All I have to do is show them, and they are off and running to try these things independently. Megan, 1st grade teacher, Iowa
Teaching my kindergarten students onset has never been easier using Visual Phonics. The hand shapes are just what the struggling learners need to visually see and hear the onset sound. They learn the hand shapes so quickly and use them frequently in the beginning reading stage.
Coding my classroom library with the written Visual Phonics symbol was so beneficial. (I mainly did vowel team and irregular sounds.) It gave the struggling students the confidence they needed to pick up a book and attempt to read it! Julie, Reading Specialist, Iowa