Why is Blend Phonics Free?

Hazel Loring’s Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics is free because there is no other way to get this superior phonics method into the hands of every first-grader teacher in America. This is in the spirit in which Mrs. Loring published her method in the first place. She felt that the real problem in American education was that money controlled education. The only way to liberate education from inferior methods was to make available a superior method that every beginning reading teacher could obtain free. Please feel free to print off your own copy of Blend Phonics and make copies to give to fellow teachers. As a courtesy, I have published Loring’s Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics for First Grade: Plus Blend Phonics Fluency Drills as a convenient 6 x 9 paperback.

What is Artificially Induced Whole-Word Dyslexia?

It is a form of dyslexia in which people misread words because they have a been taught to view them as wholes (configurations/outlines), without regard to the letters or the sound they represent. It is caused by whole-word memorization of sight-words coupled with instruction that encourages guessing from the context. Blend Phonics taught FIRST can prevent its development, and Blend Phonics taught LATER can cure it.

Is there a test for Artificially Induced Whole-Word Dyslexia?

Yes. The Miller Word Identification Assessment is available for free to be used to test students before and after learning to read with Blend Phonics.

Are there any programs available like Blend Phonics?

Yes. There are several programs that I have used and could highly recommend. The main difference is that Blend Phonics is free. Another distinctive advantage of Blend Phonics it that it was designed to be taught to whole-classes. It is equally good for one-on-one or whole class instruction. Many programs that are excellent for one-on-one instruction are unwieldly for classroom instruction. 

What experience do you have teaching reading?

I taught 21 years in public schools and am now in my 11th year in a private school. I hold Texas’ Teacher Certifications in ESL, Elementary Bilingual, Elementary Comprehensive, and Secondary Spanish. I was trained in three Orton-Gillingham Programs: Herman, Project-Read: The Language Circle, and Spalding’s Writing Road to Reading. I have taught many highly effective programs, which I will not mention here. I can say that none of them, regardless of complexity, cost, or popularity, are more effective that Blend Phonics.

What experience do you have with Blend Phonics?

I published Blend Phonics back in 2003 but did not use it until 2007. I had many other commercial programs that were highly effective and answered all my needs; however, I had a yearning to try Blend Phonics. In the summer of 2007, I used used it with a first-grader from a local school who had not learn to read anything in first-grade. I found it astoundingly effective. People from pre-kindergarten through 41 years old have successfully learned to read with me with this program.

What is Directional Guidance?

Directional Guidance is the distinguishing characteristic of Blend Phonics. This is the special feature that prevents whole-word dyslexia and cures it. Students begin learning the sounds represented by the letters (letter-to-sound correspondences also called phoneme-to-grapheme correspondences). Instead of word-families and analogy, words are sounded out from left to right one letter at a time: b + a = ba, ba+ t = bat. This promotes smooth left to right decoding and totally eliminates guessing.

Doesn’t Phonics produce mere word-callers?

This is certainly not true of Blend Phonics because each word is taught with a oral sentence. The students sound-out each word and then make up a oral sentences of their own to illustrate the meaning of the word. If they do not know the word, then the teacher gives them a sentences to illustrate its meaning. The children are taught the meanings of  2,000 words with Blend Phonics.

Where can I get training in Blend Phonics?

I plan to publish several training videos. There is one short video I did a few years ago that is currently available on YouTube: Blend Phonics Video Training.

What do reading experts say about the Blend Phonics Techinque?

Let me quote from Isabel L. Beck’s excellent 2006 (2nd ed. 2013) book Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys (Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy)

In contrast to final blending, I strongly recommend successive blending (which I have sometimes called cumulative blending). In successive blending, students say the first two sounds in a word and immediately blend those two sounds together. They say the third sound and immediately blend that with the first two blended sounds. If it is a four-phoneme word, then they say the fourth phoneme and immediately blend that with the first three blended sounds. The strong advantage of successive blending is that it is less taxing on the short-term memory because blending occurs immediately after each new phoneme is pronounced. As such, at no time must more than two sounds be held in memory (the sound immediately proceed and the one that directly precedes it), and at no time must more than two sound units be blended (50).

Beck mentions another advantage of the blend phonics technique for the teacher.

A strong advantage of the successive blending chain is the precise information available to the teacher in locating an error. If a child makes an error while performing the chain, the teacher knows where the error is – that is, which link in the chain is incorrect. With this kind of precise information, the teacher can give the child a direct prompt… The availability of precise information enables the teacher to go right into where the problems is and deal with it. This is in contrast to simply knowing that a child didn’t read black or set correctly (53, 54).

Where did Loring get her Blend Phonics technique?

Loring tells us that she taught the Beacon Phonics Chart when she was a young lady. A careful inspection of the 1912/1921 Beacon Primer and Beacon Readers by James Hiram Fassett proves that she got her distinctive ideas from that method. Although the Beacon Primer, unfortunately, did teach a few sight-words, the phonics portion of the program has yet to be surpassed. At one time it was the most popular reading method in America. It was replaced by the famous, but highly inferior, Dick and Jane Readers.

Do you recommend multi-sensory instruction?

Yes. All of my Blend Phonics Students see, say, and write all the words from the chalkboard, and then write them in wide-lined spiral notebooks. Either manuscript or cursive can be used. Personally, I have found cursive to be much more effective than manuscript and now use cursive exclusively with all my tutoring students regardless of age. Document Cameras are particularly effective for multi-sensory teaching.

In this regard, it is important that the teacher say the letter names as he or she writes them in cursive on the board so the children are seeing and hearing the spellings. I do not for a single minute think that the teaching of letter names interferes with learning to read with phonics. Quite the contrary, I am thoroughly convinced that it greatly facilitates the task of learning to read fluently and spell accurately. Ann Gillingham and Bessie Stillman came to the same conclusion in The Gillingham Manual: Remedial Training for Students with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship. In regard to teaching letter names to beginning readers, Marilyn J. Adams has come out decisively in favor letter names in her recent, ABC Foundations for Young Children.

Blend Phonics is: Multi-sensory, Phonetic, Structural, Cumulative, and Sequential. We use all four modalities: Auditory (listening), Visual (looking), Oral Kinesthetic (speaking), Manual Kinesthetic (writing). Multi-sensory instruction enables fuzzy representations of oral language to become clear, direct, automatic responses to phonemes and graphemes, leaving more working memory available for higher level thinking and writing skills.

How many words are taught in Blend Phonics?

Blend Phonics teaches 1,558 words. Of course, the children will be able to read thousands more because they have learned to sound-out the words for themselves. All 44 English speech sounds (phonemes) are taught along with all the major spelling patterns.

Do you teach any sight words? 

This is a loaded question.  I do not recommend teaching the Dolch or Fry sight words through visual, whole word memorization. So the answer is, “No.” On the other hand, in technical literature a “sight word” is any word that is read instantly without need to laboriously sound it out. In that case the answer would be, “Yes.” We want all the words in Blend Phnoics to become sight words in the technical sense, but we teach no sight-words. Interestingly all the Dolch List words are included in the Blend Phonics program so there is no need to teach separately. Teachers can rest assured that Blend Phonics students will score high on any sight words list assessment.

See the Sight Word page for more detailed information.

Concerning sight word memorization, Diane McGuinness informs us, “This strategy is highly predictive of reading failure.” Why would anyone want to cause reading failure?

What do you recommend after students complete Blend Phonics?

I recommend my paperback book, Beyond Blend Phonics. This book teaches the Anglo-Saxon, Romance (Latin & French) and Greek levels of English. There are 731 words that the children will read; but since the program teaches the morphemes, the children will be able to read thousands more words after completing the program.  The program was designed to make it easy for students to move quickly to more advanced reading levels.

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