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How to Motivate Older Students Who Read but Do Not Write, Spell or Think All That Well!

"But Mom, I already know all that baby stuff," wails sixth grader Eric, as he turns down another chance for some extra work on phonics, spelling rules and legible handwriting. Sound familiar?

Along with a gifted second grader and a youngish, but eager beginner, Mom has her normally capable hands more than full. We hear all the familiar questions at least once a day from both teachers and parents: What can I do with Eric? What can I do with these older students who read, but can't write, spell or think all that well? Most teachers and many parents are aware that though students often can read, and even comprehend, they have great difficulty putting what they know on paper. It is also very frustrating to pique their interest in learning the basics needed for print skills. How can we help such students? How can we handle their negative attitudes, along with finding the time to address the skill building that needs to take place? How can I make them realize that they must learn more about language arts than just reading? They think reading is all there is, or needs to be!

Well, the teacher and Mom both need to regain their composure, and work smarter, not harder, to overcome these all-too-common problems.

If the Erics read well, there is no reason for them not to learn the missing writing and spelling skills they need as adult-type learners - tackling the task as a college course in linguistics. Over the years, we've found several effective motivators.

First, tell them straight out that there is a body of information which, for one reason or another, they've missed along the way. They simply must learn correct English spelling patterns (the complete phonetic system), and about 47 spelling, syllabication and plurals rules and how to apply them. If they are not great visual learners, promise them that this will help them turn their speech into print with creative writing which they can, in turn, analyze for grammar and syntax - all for better thinking skills. Use the chart on the back of the third tab page of this manual to show them what there is to learn about this subject.

Second, if they master this information, they will then be qualified to help instruct other students or younger children in their family, school or classroom. They can also take this new-found skill next door to tutor other children. For many, this appeals more than mowing lawns or babysitting. It can also carry over to tutoring of peers at the college level.

Third, such children can become your teaching partners. Just like you, what they will teach they must learn very thoroughly themselves.

Fourth, to correct auditory processing skills (an important requisite of correct spelling), they need to relearn manuscript letter formation through a dictation process. Unlike primary level teaching, you should do this "game style" in a couple of short lessons by giving only the instructions (not the phonogram sounds), and then have them tell you what they wrote. This requires real listening, not presupposing that they know, and t hen not listening to the oral instructions, while forging ahead with ill-formed letters. This teaches nothing and reinforced old bad habits.

The revised "Orton" phonograms are shown here:

b c d f g h j k l m n p qu r s t v w x z a e i o u y er ir ur wor ear sh ee th ay/ai ow/ou oy/oi aw/au ew/eu ey/ei ui oo ch ng ea ar ck ed or wh oa ie igh tch eigh wr ph dge oe kn gn ti si ci ough

These sound/symbol combinations are the missing link in "the great debate" - the commonly-used correct spelling patterns needed to spell the 42 sounds of English speech. You needn't our entire curriculum package but you can teach the phonograms "explicitly" (in isolation, and without key words or pictures), as compiled research supports, using the audio CD package. It ...

  • Illustrates the 118 combinations.
  • Explains the multi-sensory teaching technique to reach all "learning styles" without discrimination.
  • Lists the 47 spelling rules.
  • Shows the methods used for applications directly to spelling vs. reading.
  • Shows how letter formation is taught to correct reversals.

We guarantee that the information available in it will change their minds about "all that baby stuff!"