About Us and Phonics

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More About Phonics


Phonics is a method for teaching reading and speaking of the English language by teaching the sounds of the letters and combinations of letters. The goal of phonics is to enable beginning readers to decode new words by sounding out words using the phonics patterns and rules. There are many different approaches to teaching phonics.

How Phonics Can Help Students Learn to Read

In the English language there are 26 letters and each letter has a name, but many of the letters do not make the same sound as the letter name when the letter is spoken in a word. For example, the letter “a” has a long sound and a short sound. The long sound of “a” is the same as the name of the letter “a”, but the short sound of the letter “a” makes an “aha” sound as in the words cat and mat. Some letters make more than one sound and many letters make a different sound when combined with other letters. The letters in some words don’t follow any of the phonics rules, these words are called sight words

The Controversy between Phonics and the Whole Language Approach

Over the years there has been a debate among educators (and parents) about the best approach to teach reading. The phonics approach dates to at least the work of Favell Lee Mortimer in 1834. Over the years the “whole language approach” has been adopted by many educators who have criticized the “phonics approach”

In 1997, Congress asked the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. The National Reading Panel examined quantitative research studies on many areas of reading instruction, including phonics and whole language. The resulting report Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its Implications for Reading Instruction was published in 2000 and provides a comprehensive review of what is known about best practices in reading instruction in the U.S. The panel reported that several reading skills are critical to becoming good readers: phonemic awareness, phonics for word identification, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. With regard to phonics, their meta-analysis of hundreds of studies confirmed the findings of the National Research Council: teaching phonics (and related phonics skills, such as phonemic awareness) is a more effective way to teach children early reading skills than is embedded phonics or no phonics instruction. The panel found that phonics instruction is an effective method of teaching reading for students from kindergarten through 6th grade, and for all children who are having difficulty learning to read. They also found that phonics instruction benefits all ages in learning to spell. They also reported that teachers need more education about effective reading instruction, both pre-service and in-service.

National Reading Panel (NRP) – Publications and Materials – Summary Report. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 2000.

A Blended Phonics Approach to Learning to Read

One of the many features that our courses offer is a blended phonics approach. For many, phonics was just too complicated with too many symbols and too many rules. For others, the whole language approach did not offer a foundation of understanding how sounds make words and a system of learning new words other than memorizing new words.

My elementary school used the whole language approach to reading. Later, when I was in college, I felt like I was missing something. I was missing an understanding how to learn new words and sound out words. To fill that void, I signed up for a linguistics course, but it did not take me long to realize that was not phonics and it was not what I was looking for. Dropped it the first week.

Example of "Learn the Words" from Phonics 1a - Vowel Sounds

Using modern technology, we are able to offer a blended approach to learning the English language. In our unique "Learn the Words" activities, we are able to show a picture depicting the word. We are able to show the whole word and the sound of the word that students can hear as many times as they like. And we are able to show the sounds (phonemes) in (Elkonin) boxes with the sounds that make up the words. Students can move their cursor or finger through the boxes to blend the sounds to make the word sound.

Thus we are blending not only the sounds of words, we are blending phonics with a whole language approach, creating a powerful and effective way to learn new words. We add to this our presentations, explaining phonics and using phonics to understand how to learn new words and pronounce new words. We also present combination sounds and some basic phonics rules to help complete the instruction as well as sight words that do not follow the rules.

In our more advanced courses, we show how sounds are combined to create syllables and how syllables make words.

We wrap this with our wonderful songs, games, animations and all the other features to make a fun and effective way to learn the English language. But most of all, we are creating a foundation for educational success.

As we have heard many times from our customers, "I wish I had something like this when I was in school".

This site is decicated to spreading the word about a blended approach to phonics that will help kids learn to read more easily, helping struggling students and giving kids a foundation in phonics that will help them as they learn new words and learn to pronounce new words. These skills will help improve their chances of succeeding in school, at work and in life. The English language can often be a difficult and confusing language to learn. Why not make it as easy as possible.

We offer parents, grandparents and others interested in helping a child a read to take advantage of our 7 day free trial of one of our phonics packages. This is an online (web based) subscription that is completely free for 7 days. You will have an opportunity to see how your child responds to our blended approach and how much you child will love learning with Super Star Online. If you decided to continue your subscription, you will be billed ($4.95 to $9.95 per month, depending on which package you select) monthly until you decide to cancel your subscription. You can cancel at the end of your 7 day free trial or at any time you wish. You can view our subscriptions at: Super Star Online .

Super Star Phonics, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation. We sometimes offer grants to teachers to help them use our blended approach to phonics in the classroom. If you are a teacher interested in a grant, please contact us for more information. Schools who are interested in our phonics courses should take a look at Super Star Online for schools from the Help Me 2 Learn Company web site at: Super Star Online for School.