The Steps To Reading Series

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STRS……teaching a child to read, one letter at a time.

As a teacher with a background in physiology, I flowed while some of my colleagues had difficulties in understanding children who had difficulty in learning and (unfortunately) were put in “normal” classrooms in an otherwise, hostile, Nigerian educational environment. Don’t get me wrong, I worked in a good environment but my colleagues in other schools didn’t. And despite my own good environment, we were still incapable of providing for children who were below a certain level of intellectual ability.

Nursery is a good place to start when going into the teaching profession, and soon enough, I fell in love with my job and the children (ages 2-5 on average). I am a very creative person in a lot of areas so I  easily adapted my lessons to themes (back then – as I am no more in the classroom). One area that struck a chord in me was Language, and especially getting children to read. Maybe it was because I was fresh from learning Montessori or because the transition you see a child go through from non-reader to fluent reader is just magical! And I had somehow stumbled on some neurophysiology articles that had to do with cognition – now that had my juices running!

Fast forward 5 years later, I had this urge to train teachers to teach reading properly. So I birthed the Steps To Reading Series (been on it over a year). Through endless research and self-study, I was able to come up with a material that was technical but not too technical for the average Nigerian teacher to comprehend (as long as the teacher is qualified enough to be able to read the material).

WHAT IS THE Steps To Reading Series?

It is a mini-course I developed from a compilation of different works (mostly international because we still depend more on diaspora curriculum in schools here) based on the curriculum we use here in Nigeria. It is divided into 4 phases: Preparatory, Pre-Phonics, Phonics, and Post-Phonics Phases.

Preparatory has 2 module: Neuro 101 & Teachology 101

Pre-Phonics has 4 modules: Alphabetic Principle, Literacy & its stages, Print Awareness & Concept of Word, and Phonological Awareness.

Phonics has 3 modules: Phonics, Phonics the Jolly Way & Phonics the Montessori Way.

Post Phonics has 4 modules: Fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension 1 and Comprehension 2.

Each module is meant to explain the topics thoroughly so as to ease a lot of headaches for the typical Nigerian teacher.

WHAT PROBLEM DOES THE STRSeries ADDRESS?

Plenty!!!!

Neuro 101 gives a simple insight into how the brain works in learning.  Hopefully that will make it easier for teachers to easily recognize that children with learning difficulties shouldn’t be labelled as dull.

Teachology 101: address our attitudes to teaching as a profession. Basically, if God willed that you are a teacher, accept it and make the best of it. Learn to love it, it’s a noble profession! We can always talk about the salary later……

As for the remaining set of modules, it is meant to highlight aspects of teaching reading that is highly overlooked in training schools. The first four modules are usually clumped under phonics….and there is this never-ending war between Jolly Phonics & Montessori Phonics. Then of course, fluency is skipped, Vocabulary is just a normal daily act of living and comprehension?!?!? O dear! Don’t get me started.

I hope to keep developing the series each year, adding and subtracting as appropriate. I hope that sometime in the future, even a secondary school certificate holder would be able to use it to learn to teach reading (with some internships). This is Africa after all, not everyone has the “luxury” of getting into a good university. 

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Reading is a prelude to so many things, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and all other analytical sciences. If they don’t read it properly, they would never understand it enough to solve the problems.

If we can just teach our children to read properly and to actually love the act of reading, we would have a nation of happy, literate, and empowered youths to steer the nation into a naturally positive course.

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DYSLEXIA – A DEFINED AND LEARNING DIFFICULTY

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This is a lovely article I read on Kathy Kiefer’s blog on dyslexia. Worth the read. For those that have been asking…….

How hard is it to learn with Dyslexia?Can it be overcome?With dyslexia can you be successful?What are they symptoms and causes (if any) ofย ย  dyslexia?

Source: DYSLEXIA – A DEFINED AND LEARNING DIFFICULTY

Why do some people have reading challenges?

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I’m doing a self study on children with slow learning abilities, actually, delayed reading ability. The more I read, the more captivating it is. One good thing, though, is that I now know that

if a child can’t read at age 7, it doesn’t mean the child is lazy, dumb or has no hope of ever making it in life.

It just means that both parents and school will need to intensify all efforts in intervention toย  assistย  the child or teen to read. Now if there is a biological issue involved, that’s another story, otherwise everything is OK. Even children with down syndrome read well if not better than their peers.
A point I must bring to your attention is that

there is a difference between reading and comprehending.

The child with down syndrome, for example, might be very good at reading but will not be able to comprehend what he or she is reading. So if we decide to intervene, we need to focus on both and take it from a simple to complex level.
A study done in the United States, years back, showed that there is a part of the brain that makes no contribution to intellect and is not measured in intelligence test. This area, allows children to distinguish between the tiniest sounds in words. If this area is not properly developed, then the child is likely to have difficulty in reading. Research is still going on in this area.

How can we help this area to develop?
We start very early at home. Children who enter school with a large vocabulary base have a very high probability of excelling in both reading and comprehension. Between birth and the age of 12mths, babies are able to replicate any sound they hear. After 12mths, they loose this ability and will only replicate, perfectly, sounds they have already heard. An example of this is the ‘r’ issue in Japanese language, there is no ‘r’ in the language so a typical Japanese adult won’t hear it in a word. So ‘rice’ becomes ‘lice’.
When mothers use baby talk with their babies, it helps unconsciously to accentuate sounds and rhythm in d native language. Please note, television can never be a substitute for this.

Dyslexia is a common term used to describe difficulty in reading. There are arguments about it being a myth or not.ย  Some argue that there is really no such thing as Dyslexia, and that you can’t tell between a dyslexic or normal child – see what I mean – it’s placing the child in a ‘special’ group,ย  and that is quite unnecessary. Others say, No, they need to be in a special group.
I kinda agree with the first group, if there were circumstances that affected a child in the foundational stages of growth, then it is only right to plan out some form of remedial and intervention strategy to assist that child to close the gap between him and his peers.ย  He is only a poor reader, not a special child. Labelling him might lead to unnecessary stigmatization amongst his peers. It has worked, still works, and will keep working as long as there is a determined and dedicated team, and of course no underlying medical issue.

Next article, we will talk more about dyslexia, God willing. See you!

The big taboo with the present generation is…….. STUDYING?!?!

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I look at my 11, 9, 6 and 3yr olds…….I am perplexed!

Ok, forget the 3 and 6yr olds! I think about the elder two…..sigh….big sigh….

I then go back in time to my days at secondary school. From Junior Secondary, though I was an average student, I always tried to carry my books 2weeks before end of term exams so that I could (at least) make the pass mark for a subject. I’d think about the daily prep periods ย (night reading periods for boarding student), the physical library (a building in the school with cataloged cards for those willing to search for an old classic), the times – spent building up a friendship just by having someone who knew a topic better than you – learning from her, and so on. I go through this cycle every time I tell my kids to carry their books and study.

It seems I am not the only one affected by this though. I have asked quite a number of friends and I get the same response – sighs!!!

A sister of mine told me, “if IB should miss a class of school due to illness, there’s trouble!” She would need to get extra help to make him learn the topic because he just doesn’t read. And when you ask – he’ll tell you that he knows the topic. infact, it wasn’t too long ago that an educational organisation did a seminar on how to get the current kids to start reading to study.

So where did we go wrong? Our parents didn’t need too much effort to get us to read or study. Or do we blame the internet? Afterall, it gives you the answers to most (not all) things at the touch of a button. Or is it some sort of metamorphosis in the genetic make up of the kids? Is it the depletion of the ozone layer? Are we feeding them too much GMO foods? …..big sigh!

As a teacher I know that actively reading not only benefits the intellect, it also exercises and develops the brain. This is why my generation (1970s-1980s) can think, put things into action, and develop new ideas from old ones. We never get bogged down, we forge ahead because we are active. I would devour a book once I got started because I had a reading culture.

It seems technology has erased anything related to developing a reading culture with the old fashioned, handheld, physical book. Any advice from anyone?

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What’s your say on this?

The Joys of Reading.

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I read so that I can be informed, enlightened, engaged, distracted, consumed, occupied, reminded, identified, sojourned, trained,…and educated.

I read to be informed of the past, present and future.
I read to be enlightened of happenings around me and in the world at large.
I read to be engaged at times that I seem to have too much time for too little to do.

I read to be distracted from the daily tribulations of life.
I read to be consumed in the thoughts of great minds, known and unknown.
I read to be occupied with the more important things of life.
I read to be reminded of my essence of being.

I read to be identified with the world of imagination, the world of books.
I read to be sojourned to places known and unknown to me.
I read to be trained, so that I can do things I need to do, in order to be able to do things I want to do.
I read to be …..
I read to be educated!

Why do you read?

 

Contributor:

Abdul Ghaniy Otukogbe. He is married with 3 kids, a Learning Instructor with Adult Education of ERYC, UK – with special interest in Literacy, Numeracy and Learning Disabilities.

UKF Reading Program

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Tope & United for Kids Foundation: Doing a GREAT JOB!

Those who know about Edustuff Inc. know that we generally opt for the “train the trainer” style with the low income schools we work with, but on the 12th of March, 2014, we tried the other option (which has been nagging me but I always thought it impossible).

With some ladies — Aisha Bint Ibrahim, Bash Balogun, Oluwa To Yin, Aminat Gbaja, Temitope Y-a (kudos to you guys, I really admire your enthusiasm and courage), we decided to try out a new challenge. Continue reading