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Tools for Teaching ALL Students to Read and Spell, Under One Roof !

Monster Mapping - An Early Intervention for Dyslexia

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An Early Intervention for Dyslexia

Our goal is to not only ensure that every student is given the skills to be ABLE to learn to read and spell, as quickly and easily as possible (to immunise them against illiteracy) but that they CHOOSE to do so.  This is especially important for boys. We need to excite them about reading as early as possible. 



A Skills Acquisition Process

Although around 1 in 5 students seem to find learning to read and spell very difficult, and many fail to achieve functional literacy even after attending school for a decade, we would tend to agree with Dr G Reid Lyon, and others, who make the claim that around 95% are 'NBTs' and only around 5% of students who struggle have specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia. 'Never Been Taught' is a way explain that, despite being 'taught' (and then receiving learning support) they were never taught using strategies that worked for them. But is this because the students are unable to learn to read and spell? Watch Miss Emma teaching children, teenagers and adults to read in a matter of weeks, despite their 'labels'. Most of the students she is asked to work with have been told there is something 'wrong' with them, whether it be a 'learning difficulty' or an 'attitude' problem (try harder, listen more closely) So if these supposed 'unteachables' quickly start to read and spell, when taught by Miss Emma, The Reading Whisperer, what can we deduce? ...that changing the teaching strategies would have allowed them to learn to read and spell? Not only could they have experienced success, their difficulties could have been avoided in the first place.
See our article about addressing the number of instructional casualties we have around the word, by promoting an 'Immunisation Against Illiteracy.'  We also aim to help change the way students are taught when they attend educational institutions. 

How can we PREVENT reading and spelling difficulties? As you will read, 'Children with high phonemic awareness are known to outperform those with low phonemic awareness on all literacy measures, whether they were taught using a traditional basal instruction or whole language (Griffith, Klesius, & Kromrey), . It would seem logical to assume that if Monster Mapping® significantly increases the level of phonemic awareness for each young child,
that we are offering an effective safeguard, or defence, against varying levels of instruction at school. We can prevent children from becoming instructional casualties.

Watch this 3 year old using the phonemic awareness skills that are essential to be ABLE to learn to read and spell. 
There are no letters used here, or phonics.
This is a phonemic awareness (SSP Phase 1 - Orange Level) activity.

Her brain is now 'wired' to be able to learn to read and spell REGARDLESS of which approach, program or strategies her teachers will use when she attends school (in over a year)  However, she is now reading for pleasure. 

And we can (and should) do this ANYWHERE and everywhere !


According to Julian Elliott and Elena Grigorenko in their 2014 book The Dyslexia Debate, the phonological deficit hypothesis has been the dominant cognitive explanation of dyslexia for over four decades. According to this hypothesis, "children with dyslexia are hindered by faulty representation of speech sounds, which leads to problems involving the precise processing of spoken words." (Chapter two, Explanations at the cognitive level.) So a hands on, playful program in the early years that enables parents and teachers to identify phonemic awareness deficits even before the children start school, will also allow for a much earlier identification of dyslexia. By teaching all students as if they are dyslexic, we leave no-one behind. 

Dyslexic students require activities that are visual, auditory and kinesthetic (ie multi-sensory) and involve a high degree of repetition. SSP teachers use 'spaced repetition' to reinforce and consolidate grapheme recognition and blending skills, special texts to develop decoding fluency (so that working memory is not being extensively used to figure out each word) and techniques to focus on visualisation and comprehension skills. The 'Six Super Skills' of teaching reading* are taught using a skills acquisition approach. We start the development (or strengthening) of phonemic awareness skills initially through encoding (speech to spelling) and continue (within phase 2) to take a 'speech to print' approach. 

A mixture of systematic, explicit teaching of skills are balanced out with problem solving (inquiry learning) activities. See The Speedy Six, for example.  Students move into Phase 3 when they are no longer in the 'learning to read and spell' phase ie they can independently read age appropriate chapter books, and can recognise and use  over 90 high frequency graphemes (the 4 Code Levels) - no longer needing explicit phonics instruction, Experienced SSP Foundation and Year 1 teachers will ensure that all (but the 5%) are working at Phase 3 before they enter Grade 2. By Grade 2 they are in the 'reading to learn, writing to express and inform' stage. The focus is on critical thinking, higher order skills, and a greater focus on writing skills, including grammar and punctuation. 

* The Six Super Skills of Teaching Reading: 
Phonemic Awareness, Systematically Taught Phonics, Fluency, Comprehension and Vocabulary Knowledge.
See useful research linkseg Report and Recommendations from the National Reading Panel 

The written code is based on speech - not the other way around. So this idea of some words being 'difficult to sound out' is quite a strange concept, until you realise that people have been trying the predominantly 'print to speech' approach, using certain phonics programs, for some time. Many phonics programs can be as useless as 'whole word' recognition for dyslexic students.  

Speech Sound Pics Approach is Dyslexia Friendly!

Use the handbook with the
SSP Monster Mapping app

Sight Words Done Differently