Yes, I Can Read! was written for fourth graders through adults who are nonreaders, beginning readers, or struggling readers, those who speak English as well as ESL learners. The workbook was designed for learners who may be working with minimal assistance in a one-on-one, small group, or classroom setting, and its reading levels range from 0 to 5.9.
I had two goals in mind when I wrote Yes, I Can Read! First, my purpose was to simplify the reading process, and second, to provide learners with a technique, a method by which they could decode unfamiliar words within an age-appropriate format. The workbook focuses on the syllable and six syllable types (Peterson, 1998) combined in an Orton-Gillingham-based approach and page format. If the learner knows that the words he/she encounters can be divided into syllables, and that nearly all those syllables fit into only six groups, the reading process is simplified. As a result, using Yes, I Can Read!, the learner can acquire a significant sight vocabulary of over 2,000 words and a method he or she can utilize to decode unfamiliar words and become an independent reader.
The Three Approaches Explained
First, students are instructed to underline vowel sounds in featured words, as the number of vowel sounds equals the number of syllables. They are then able to divide a word based on its number of syllables. Second, learning the six syllable types enables them to look for syllable patterns, sound out syllables, and thus the word. Third, learning is maximized using the Orton-Gillingham-based multi-sensory approach, as students/learners see, say, hear, trace, and write the words. Specifically, the learner’s knowledge of consonant and vowel sounds, syllables, and sight vocabulary, as well as his/her spelling and handwriting skills are solidified, all of which in turn promotes his/her automaticity and fluency (Lyon,1998).
With some modifications, Yes, I Can Read! is based on the “Stern Center Sequence of Phonological Awareness, Word Analysis and Spelling Skills” which follows a traditional, structured sequence found in most reading programs that graduate from beginning reading instruction through the end of the fifth grade.
The Remedial Student
Research shows that many students who have had trouble learning to read lack phonemic awareness, or the concept of a sound-letter connection (Lyon, 1998). As a result, explicit, sequential phonics as well as the multi-sensory approach (VAKT technique) are two research-based, effective methods of instruction that are central to Yes, I Can Read! In the same way, running through the entire workbook is the decoding method students learn and use so they can become independent readers. Although there is no one approach or material that holds the key to teaching someone to read, this workbook offers the above-mentioned approaches combined with extensive lessons, repetition, practice, and words in context.
In addition to effective materials, encouragement is an essential component of a reading program. All students need encouragement, but none do more than the remedial student, who has experienced frustration and failure. Offer support, praise, and congratulatory comments such as good, yes, good job, okay!, etc. whenever possible. Stickers, trinkets, certificates, or other rewards are also effective. Furthermore, offer encouragement during assessments using nonverbal and facial cues that he or she is doing well: It helps calm a learner’s nerves.
First, YICR can be used as a decoding program wherein the student starts on his or her reading level and progresses through the book. Second, one can teach the six syllable types by using the six units in the workbook devoted to those syllables. Third, YICR can be used as a supplement in conjunction with other materials to reinforce learning in particular areas. Yes, I Can Read! is an essential component of a balanced literacy program.
Diagnosis and Prescription
Administer a standardized reading test or informal reading inventory, phonics checklist, or other assessments to determine the student’s reading level and diagnose strengths and weaknesses. Keeping a folder on each student in which ongoing assessment, interviews, interest surveys, and informal notes (anecdotal records) on the student documenting reading errors, such as bog for dog, guess for guests, etc. is invaluable in keeping track of strengths, weaknesses, progress or lack of progress, assigned materials and how they work with your student. Even if your student is not beginning with the unit that corresponds to his reading level, your diagnosis will help determine the particular lessons you assign in the workbook. This practice also helps establish a rapport with your learner, which is important if he or she is to have a positive attitude about working with you.