This Montessori reading program is much more than a set of card materials. In my opinion, the program IS the book and the materials support the book.
The book is divided into four parts. Part 1 is theory and science, its what justifies my subtitle “Evidence-Based Reading Instruction for the Montessori Classroom.” I show the connection between the Montessori Method and evidence-based reading instruction. My hope was that you would feel confident knowing that my program is indeed aligned with the Montessori Method, and that both align with the evidence.
The rest of the book is application. You are going to be flipping back and forth between Parts 2, 3, and 4. Part 2 is the lesson templates, and Parts 3 and 4 are the details that go into the templates.
Part 1 – Theory and Science
Think of Part 1 as your crash course on the science of reading. In this part, I explain what reading research indicates is best practice and what practices are harmful.
There are a lot of ideas floating around about how to teach reading. Maybe you’ve been teaching for a long time, maybe you remember how you were taught, or maybe you’ve read a bunch of other blogs and books about how to teach reading. I’m going to bet, that for most of my readers, this method is very different from anything else you’ve been exposed to.
I am not a reading researcher, so I relied on nearly a century of reading research done by experts in the field, and especially the theoretical model of Diane McGuinness. She calls her model “The Prototype.” I read all of her books and then I read each of the studies she cited to evaluate her claims and interpretations myself. I have used these methods and practices in my own classes, so I also have first-hand experience with the program . Part 1 is a distillation of what I have learned.
There are ten elements of The Prototype integrated into the program:
- Teach from sound to print, i.e. teach spelling first. The sounds of spoken language are the basis for the alphabetic code, not letters. Letters do not make sounds, people do.
- Teach individual sounds (phonemes) only. Do not attempt to fuse letters and sounds into larger units such as syllables, clusters, or word families.
- Teach children to segment and blend the sounds in spoken words. Connect those segmented sounds to letter-symbols.
- Teach children how to handwrite each letter. Integrate handwriting into every lesson.
- Explicitly link spelling and reading: don’t teach them as unrelated skills. The alphabet is a code, sounds are represented by letters, letters represent sounds.
- The child’s spelling should be, at a minimum, phonetically accurate.
- Do not teach letter names first.
- Do not memorize any words as a whole.
- Begin with an artificial transparent alphabet, or Basic Code: a one-to-one correspondence between 40+ phonemes and their most common spelling.
- After the Basic Code is mastered, lessons should move on to include alternative spellings, multisyllable words, and the morphological layer of English.
Part 1 is about 50 pages, which isn’t much in a nearly 300 page book, still, some early readers preferred to skip it and get straight to the lessons. You can do that (there are no book police!), but I really encourage you to read Part 1 at least once. You may find that parts of your current reading methodology are anathema to this program.
Part 2 – Lesson Templates
The lessons are scripted templates. I provide one sample lesson fully written out so you can see how a lesson is supposed to go. After that, you will swap in details from parts 3 and 4.
(These are screenshots from the PDF, the underlined text is internally linked, if you click the text it will take you to that page.)
The lessons are:
- Phonemic Awareness Lessons
- Syllable Identification
- Phoneme Blending
- Phoneme Segmenting
- Phoneme Manipulation
- Core Lessons
- Sound to Symbol
- Write a Word
- Read a Word
- Puzzle Words
- Decodable Readers
- Consonants and Vowels Story
- The Story of Digraphs
- The Split Digraph
- The Story of Minims
- Compound Words
- Closed-Syllable Words
- Open-Syllable Words
- Double Consonants
Part 3 – “Drawer Pages”
Part 3 is like a granular scope and sequence. It tells you exactly what needs to be taught before the student can begin with the card materials. There is also an inventory of all the materials, honestly, this is mostly so you know which card is missing when it inevitably happens.
The “drawer pages” are cross referenced to the “sound pages” and vice versa.
Part 4 – “Sound Pages”
Because this program is speech-to-print, it is important that you have solid ground in the “speech” part. You will reference these pages during the phonemic awareness lessons.
The Rhyme and Reason Reading Program
I hope this overview was helpful and gives you a better idea of what to expect in the guidebook.
The book is available as a digital PDF or as a hardcopy on Amazon.