Longleaf Academy provides a comprehensive study of language. Using a 4 to 1 student/teacher ratio for 90 minutes each day, it is during this time that students are instructed in reading and writing. We use the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach supplemented by the Hill Center’s Reading Achievement and Write curriculum, and Excellence in Writing. Children with dyslexia and other language-based difficulties, enter into the stages of reading at a different rate than typically developing youngsters. Dr. Louisa Moats, a leading reading researcher explains the stages of reading as determined by Dr. Jean Chall. Follow the link to learn more. www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/stages-reading. Decoding words is only one small piece of reading. Children with language-based learning disabilities have difficulty decoding words because they have phonological discrepancies that are necessary prerequisites to phonics. These discrepancies also interfere with the essential fluency of reading, thus comprehension is ultimately affected. Reading research has proven that phonology and phonemic awareness can be taught. Through careful adherence to the student’s phonological weaknesses, certified language teachers help the student build the crucial components of reading and writing.
Stages of Language Development
Students exercise the phonemic part of their brains to develop the necessary prerequisite process that makes reading automatic. Using multi-sensory instruction, the student develops language skills from “whole to part” (spelling) and “part to whole” (reading) using a structured, sequential hierarchy of phonics. New information is introduced in small sequential parts. Using a cumulative approach, review and reinforcement of learned phonics skills are then connected to the new information so that reading and spelling make sense. Because fluency at the word, phrase and passage level is such a critical part of learning to read, it too is taught and reinforced explicitly.
After this stage, students delve into Anglo-Saxon prefixes, base words, and suffixes (morphemes). It is at this phase of reading and writing instruction that students become more proficient with spelling unknown words, enriching their vocabularies and acquiring a deeper knowledge of the structure of advanced language. They continue building upon the basic level, but fluency, comprehension and written output are developed to the point of “automatically.”
The next stage is the point at which students are building upon their morphemic level of reading instruction. A morpheme can be defined at a part of a word that contains meaning, like a prefix, root, and suffix. Using a multi-sensory approach, students will learn more than 120 Latin and Greek roots and all the spelling variations of the prefixes that attach to the roots; when the word becomes intensely multi-syllabic is when the child with language difficulties breaks down. Because our students progress through the various levels of language, they use these morphemes to engage their higher order thinking skills. Spelling and reading complex words with lots of syllables and defining the words is easy because they have been taught to define the morphemes both in isolation and in context.
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