How I Got Started
I began by reading to my two children during their infant and toddler years. They spent hours every week listening to stories. We went to the library regulary and checked out the maximum number of books allowed. I also taught them the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, and how to blend the sounds together to decode short vowel words. My daughter learned the alphabet letters when she was about two years old. I showed her one letter a day, written on a napkin at her high chair. She learned each letter instantly. My son, a year younger, was less interested in letters, but learned them when he was a little older. When I started teaching them to decode short vowel words (on a large chalkboard on their closet door), Brad picked up the skill immediately. Despite her confidence in naming letters and sounds, Audrey found the oral blending very difficult. We had to practice quite a bit until she was able to put the sounds together to form a word. Both children went on to be excellent readers in first grade. During this period I read and was influenced by the book Why Johnny Can't Read: and what you can do about it, by Rudolf Flesch (Harper & Row, 1966, 1986).
During my children's preschool years, I worked at the United Church Preschool in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, trained by Nan Terrrell and the other wonderful and experienced teachers there. The Nursery School: Human Relationships and Learning, by Katherine Read (W. B. Saunders Company, 1976) was a book that had an important influence at the school.
After my children entered elementary school, I worked as a volunteer and then a teaching assistant in the resource room at Glenwood Elementary School. During this time, I worked with small groups of students in grades two through five working on reading and math skills. I read the book
Teaching Montessori in the Home by Elizabeth G. Hainstock (1969), and began to use the idea of writing words on flashcards with the vowel or consonant pattern in a bright color. I decided to carry the concept a step farther by using a specific color for each different vowel sound. I later researched the use of color-coding in reading programs while writing a master's paper at ETSU.
Personal computers were just becoming common, and I typed an extensive series of word lists with all of the common phonetic patterns. I used a small Word Wiz spelling checker by Franklin Computer to generate the lists. I used these lists to make the color-coded flashcards described above, and used them successfully with the resource students I was teaching. This success was so exciting that I began taking courses, with the plan to obtain certification to teach. I continued taking courses at East Tennessee State University after a move to Johnson City, Tennessee.
Background, Philosophy, and Acknowledgements - Page 2