12 Silent E


Teaching children to read can be the most exhilarating or the most frustrating thing you do in your career. For hundreds of teachers we see every year, it is the one area for which teachers feel the least prepared. We all know that a child who reads independently on grade level can excel in any subject. If he can read, he can overcome everything else. Without reading, he will struggle to master any subject. Many teachers report that they took classes in college that "exposed" them to different reading methods. But were never told, "Do this, then this, followed by this and then your students will be able to read." STEPS is the missing link between scientific research and classroom practice. Using STEPS you can confidently help students become life-long readers. Research tells us what to do. STEPS is the "how to" to make it happen in your classroom.

STEPS teaches explicit phonics. Explicit phonics is the teaching of letter sounds (phonograms or graphemes) first, fast and furiously! Students need to learn the isolated letter sounds before reading. They also need to learn all 70 basic phonograms quickly and to the point of automaticity.

What most people think of as phonics, is embedded phonics, where students learn "A is for apple". Here the student is not learning the other sounds for A, and is using a picture clue. Research shows that students are distracted by picture clues and need to concentrate on the pure isolated sound formation. Embedded phonics often relegates phonetic sounds to several years of study. Short and long vowel sounds are commonly taught in first grade, but r-controlled vowels or vowel digraphs are postponed till second grade or even later. STEPS gives students all the phonetic tools they need before starting to encode and decode words.

explicit vs embedded

STEPS is more than just explicit phonics! Students of any age need to learn the alphabetic code, but real application comes as they learn to use those sounds and symbols in reading and spelling. STEPS uses the WISE Guide, STEPS Edition, as a graduated list of spelling words, grades K to adult. Students learn to read through learning to spell. Since spelling is taking sounds and putting them in print, then reading is just the opposite - taking print and making sounds. As students progress through the STEPS, their study of base words expands to include word derivations and vocabulary study.

The three main components of the STEPS program include:

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In STEPS, 78 phonograms that make up the English language are taught to the point of automaticity. Students learn to produce the isolated phonogram sounds and then to decode them in words.

In STEPS, 29 spelling rules are introduced with the phonograms and then applied to the 2000 most commonly used English words. Students learn the incredible predictability of our language and are able to apply the process of spelling, rather than relying on memorization.

In STEPS, spelling instruction grows into vocabulary development through direct instruction of word origins and word derivatives. Gains in reading comprehension, as well as spelling ability, are the direct result.

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