Language Arts & Phonics Instruction
Publisher Disclosure Survey Form
In the interests of efficient time management for teachers, schools and textbook selection committees, and in keeping with the American consumer’s demand for “full disclosure” of content, answers to the following questions would be most helpful to facilitate our schools’ choice in reading and language arts textbook selection. This is submitted to all publishers wishing to have their curriculum considered for adoption.
1. What phonics (phoneme/grapheme relationships) are taught in The Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking K – 2 language arts program?
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Please see the charts on the next two pages.
The first chart shows the graphemes (or spelling patterns) in the shaded rows; just beneath these graphemes (the commonly used spelling patterns needed to encode up to an average 4th grade oral vocabulary) are sample words showing the phonemes (or sounds) which can be correctly spelled by each grapheme.
In the second chart, the 45 elementary sounds (phonemes) of English speech are shown in the shaded rows. Below each phoneme are sample words showing the various graphemes used to spell those sounds. They are the elusive “alphabetic principle” by which speech sounds can be successfully “mapped” to standard book print.
We do not teach these key words, or any pictures, letter names, etc. to children; rather the correspondences are taught “explicitly” and “in isolation” as research recommends (Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985). These illustrations are placed here as examples for teachers and parents.
We teach 55 of these phoneme/grapheme relationships (called phonograms) in the first 6 weeks in Kindergarten (2 per day), and in the first 3 weeks for Grades 1 & 2 (4 per day). Older students can proceed as fast as they can learn.
To establish cognition, listening and processing skills, spatial relationships and directionality, and to provide the means for immediate use, we teach concurrent manuscript letter formation (using dictated instructions) with the first 26 phonograms, which are the single letters of the alphabet.
In the 7th (K) or 4th week (grades 1 & 2), we begin to apply these sound/symbol correspondences in written, dictated spelling lessons. Approximately 150 of the most commonly used English words are taught, three (K) or six (grades 1 & 2) per day.
In the 17th & 18th week (K) or in the 9th week (grades 1 & 2), we teach the additional remaining 16 phonograms, and then continue with spelling.
Note: This work cannot be accomplished by teachers if they are not given the required classroom time – 2.5 hours daily. Please see both front and reverse sides of a sample phonogram card shown below.
The “alphabetic principle” defined: This chart shows the order of instruction to “explicitly” teach these 71 letters and letter combinations (graphemes), some with multiple phonemes, commonly needed to spell the majority of words in a spoken, comprehensible 4th grade vocabulary. These are taught, in four (of the first nine) weeks of instruction using multi-sensory instruction to accommodate all learning styles.
PHONEMES AND GRAPHEMES OF CORRECT ENGLISH SPELLING
Elementary sounds are phonemes which cannot be further divided. This method uses 45 sounds (those shown with an * can be further divided) to simultaneously teach 118 commonly used correct spelling patterns. They are taught with multi-sensory, explicit and direct instruction (no worksheets) in the first nine weeks of this method (grades 1 and up). Beyond these common graphemes, which render most 4th grade oral vocabularies encodable (correct spelling) and decodable (able to read and comprehend regular text), there are other unusual spelling patterns in such words as psalm, waltz, beauty, view, lieu, azure, onion, forfeit, friend, capture, question, sure, ocean, guest, shoe, etc.
Sample Front and back of 71 Phoneme/Grapheme/Handwriting Teaching Aids
The Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Cards
(to illustrate how the information on the previous charts is taught)
2. List all “phonics” and any “rhyme” or word patterns taught, which you do not categorize as single phonemes or graphemes. Include single vowels, single consonants, consonant clusters or blends, vowel and consonant digraphs, diphthongs, trigraphs, etc. Compare what your curriculum teaches with the above; if you do not teach those listed in the first two charts, in K-2, indicate these omissions.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: The Riggs Institute teaches oral and written onsets, rhymes and book print practice as separate exercises (see sample of this under spelling lesson sample in #13), but not as word patterns or word families related to the phonetic sound/symbol relationships of our phonetic system for spelling (i.e. one, lone, alone, once, only and none). These are taught as paronyms with the same root. We also teach blends and consonant clusters (i.e. str, ld, sm, etc) but not as separate phoneme/grapheme relationships (what we call phonograms). Consonant blends are taught in dictated spelling lessons to help students with fluency in decoding and in separating the 45 “pure” elementary phonemes of English speech into their correct graphemic components. A consonant cluster, such as s-t-r, is taught through dictated spelling lessons, as separate elementary phonemes of English in a word like string. We believe that teaching these as an isolated or a collapsed “blend” of English speech can actually cause a deterioration of phonemic awareness. Sample front and back of 71 Phoneme/Grapheme/Handwriting Teaching Aids The Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Cards (to illustrate how the information on the previous charts is taught)
3. How are the phoneme/grapheme correspondences (sound/symbol relationships) taught? Implicitly or explicitly? Please include your definition of the words “explicit” and “implicit” phonics, and please cite your research sources. Give several examples and describe your precise procedures for teaching phonics, along with page, card, tape, or CD references from teaching materials.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We teach all phonics as “explicit” phonics, which we understand to mean just the sound/symbol relationships “in isolation.” We define “in isolation” as without key words, key pictures, letter names or capital letter formation at this initial beginning stage of instruction. Teachers articulate the sounds, show the form of the letter, students see the letter, hear the teacher say the sounds, repeat (say) the sounds and write the symbol. All else is extraneous information in beginning stages. We do not think that one can teach “explicit” phonics from worksheets because phonics is first sound, then symbol. The act of having students write the symbol from the spoken sounds ties the two together in four areas of the brain, if multi-sensory instruction is used. Printed materials present the symbol first then try to go to the embedded sound, but since we are trying to teach children how to put their speech on paper accurately, we prefer to use multi-sensory, direct and Socratic instruction, which requires the student to participate in four neurological ways. Although “scientific, controlled” research (this method hasn’t been examined to date; Researched Yes or No) does not prove that this unique way of teaching is more efficient, our empirical evidence has proven it to us. We cite the 1985 federally compiled research (synthesized by the nation’s leading reading professors including the late Dr. Jeanne Chall of Harvard, Dr. Dorothy Strickland formerly of Columbia, Dr. Isabel Beck of the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Richard Anderson,
Director of the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois) in Becoming a Nation of Readers as our source. To see how this teaching takes place, we refer you to:
- the backs and fronts of the Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Cards (see sample above)
- the Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram CD (both to train the teacher/parent in these exacting steps and to provide – in the cards – the teaching aids needed to present the phonograms and the instructions for dictated handwriting and cognitive development)
- the Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Student/Practice CD w/Blackline Master (for student practice – here the recorded sounds substitute for the teacher) (*Not to be used in classroom for daily testing)
- all of Chapters II, III and V, lessons 41-50 in the Level I Riggs’ Teacher’s Edition for detailed teacher-training and daily student lesson plans including applications in the use of multi-sensory, direct and Socratic instruction.
4. How are the cited phoneme/grapheme correspondences (phonics) applied in encoding, recoding and/or decoding of words? Please describe, and give sample pages, card, CD, and/or references for verification.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We address all three processes queried above. First encoding begins with writing corresponding graphemes (letters) from spoken sounds by having the teacher pronounce a word such as “me, and use it in a sentence (Bring the pencil to me) to model the word with correct speech and accurate syntax for vocabulary development and oral comprehension. The student repeats the word, and then is asked:
Teacher: What is the first sound you hear in the word “me”?
T: Write /m/ on your paper next to the red margin line. What is the next sound?
T: Which /e/ will we use (we’ve already taught three different spelling patterns for the long ē)
S: /ĕ//ē/ (This has been taught as the correct grapheme for the short and long phonemes of the single e grapheme (letter) versus other ‘ē’ spelling patterns including ie, ee, ea, ei, ey, etc.)
T: Write that next to your /m/. (Teacher is only using letter sounds, not the names of letters unless they happen to be vowels, which are the only letters which say their names in English speech)
(Recoding begins: Reading individual sounds of a word to dictate to the teacher.)
T: Now you tell me what to write. What was the first sound you heard in “me”?
T: [Writes m on board or overhead] What was the next sound?
T: And which phonogram did you use?
S: /ĕ/ /ē/
T: [Writes e next to m, yielding the word “me”.]
(Decoding begins: Reading sound by sound to yield the word and to do a comparative analysis of what the student has written)
T: [Asks students to raise their hands if their paper looks like the board, then raise their hands if it doesn’t. Teacher then assists students who are having difficulty by helping them to “fix it.” Students who have trouble have been placed in the front row by now.]
Now, I will teach you about underlining. We will underline the e in this word to point out a rule of our language which says, ‘Vowels a-e-o-u usually say a-e-o-u at the end of syllable.’ Let’s say that together. (part of memory device of mnemonic marking system used in this method.)
S: [Repeat rule with teacher.] (This is how we teach how “open syllables” are formed and the rule involved in words which have “open” syllables).
T: We will blend and read together what we have written. [Points to “me”] We write /m/-/e/, we read “me.”
When six words a day are on the board, they are sounded and read in this fashion and then practiced until an automatic sight vocabulary of these words has been established. This is not a whole-word memorized “sight” vocabulary, but one arrived at through the application of phonetics and the 47 rules of spelling, plurals and syllabication. They begin by reading, writing and spelling from two to four phonograms the first day of instruction, move to reading, writing and spelling words from the spelling/vocabulary list, and then move to reading their own written sentences using the spelling words – their first “in context” reading assignments.
Note: After the first two-syllable word is introduced the first question is always:
T: How many syllables in this word?
T: What is the first syllable? The second? Which phonogram?,etc.
In this process, which seems detailed at first but moves very rapidly once children anticipate the questions, we teach children how they must think to write and spell on their own, what questions to ask themselves and the meticulous phonemic/graphemic awareness and auditory, visual, verbal and motor cognition involved in this seeing, hearing, identifying, saying, writing, reading, comprehending process. We teach spelling first because we believe that this much more quickly and efficiently establishes cognitive development than compared to when phonics is taken directly to reading (which skips, for the moment, the writing and spelling process much more conducive to direct, Socratic and multi-sensory instruction).
You may find detailed instructions for this encoding, recoding and decoding dictation process beginning in Chapter V, Lessons 20-30 and through the balance of our Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Teacher’s Edition’s Level I, spelling/vocabulary list with its “end-of-each-ten-lessons” Skills and Performance Checklist assessments. Chapter II has further specific standards and assessments. See also back of Tab Sheet for Chapter V, lessons 31-40 for Spelling Dictation Summary and backs of Tab Sheets Chapter IV (Phonemes and Graphemes of English) and Chapter V, lessons 20-30 (Mnemonic Marking System for Spelling).
5. What methodologies (types of instructional processes) are used to teach the phoneme/grapheme relationships to ensure that children of all “learning styles” will be able to master them? Explain how, or if this will help our school to avoid charges of discrimination against certain types of learners. Give curriculum or other learning-tool sources and references for verification.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We use multi-sensory instruction which we have found can address all “learning styles” whether the student has strengths in auditory, visual, verbal or motor areas of the brain. We believe that the “learning styles” that are used to teach this program are neurologically based. Just as children who are color blind or tone deaf (other neurological inborn patterning) would not be placed in classrooms where all teaching and learning was accomplished through the use of colors or musical tones, we avoid charges of unfairness in the learning environment by teaching all facets of the language arts through the stronger pathways to the brain while simultaneously remedying weaker areas. We do this by simultaneously addressing all four pathways. To do otherwise we think is to put certain children, e.g. those who may not be strong visually oriented learners, at an immediate and initial disadvantage. For the strong auditory learner, sounds must be articulated by teachers rather than presented on visual worksheets. Voicing and writing strongly addresses kinesthetic aptitudes which may remain a weakness otherwise.
See The Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Cards, Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Sound CD, Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Student/Teacher Practice CD w/Blackline Master and The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I, Pages 49-52, 69-70 as well as the bibliography on Page 100, also the 3 pages of cognitive development sub-skills in our Course of Study Standards found in our Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Training Manual, pages 41- 62.
Dr. Samuel T. Orton, Reading, Writing and Speech Problems in Children, 1937, Orton Society Dr. Hilde L. Mosse, The Complete Handbook of Children’s Reading Disorders, Riggs Institute Press, 1982 Romalda Spalding, The Writing Road to Reading, Wm. Morrow & Co., 1991.
6. What “decodable” text is offered, and at what levels, to ensure that it is “decodable” for every child in every classroom – again to help our school avoid charges of discrimination and to provide every child opportunities to practice “to mastery” the phoneme/graphemes taught? How long do you use such “decodable” texts and when would you move to texts of greater difficulty and with an expanded vocabulary?
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Our only “decodable” text comes from the student’s own writing, that which they have first “encoded.” We do not think it is possible to provide a “decodable” text to ensure that every child will be able to read everything which others have written. Something successfully encoded by the student is easily read by that same student, and with greater assurance (important to the student’s self-esteem and “can do” attitude about reading). It matches their spoken vocabulary even if it is a simple beginning sentence such as “I can do it.” English-speaking children come to school with a spoken, comprehensible vocabulary of 4,000 to 24,000 words (J. Chall, R. Flesch, Robert Seashore). Our reasoning is that maintaining interest and enthusiasm will not be possible unless we can quickly provide the print skills to match beginning oral- and interest-level vocabularies. We put K children into real literature with an expanded vocabulary in about the 20th week; grade one will do this in the 9th or 10th week.
7. In your program, is there integration of the phonics taught with skills other than reading and comprehension? If so, what are they Please describe and give examples. and furnish pages, card, tape, or CD references.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We have already said that our first application is to correct spelling with a spelling list oriented to vocabulary development as well; kindergarten and up students make homonym, homophone, homograph, antonym and synonym charts and learn paronyms and word inflections from the spelling vocabulary list (example: tri, triple, three, triplets, tripod, etc.) From this spelling base, we immediately go back to speech (where the program begins) with oral and written sentences which are then analyzed for grammar and syntax and the ever-present “language of instruction.” Wall charts illustrating the spelling patterns, phonograms, spelling and plural rules are also made by the students and teacher to facilitate independent learning. We also provide additional and early practice in phonemic/graphemic awareness and the transition from manuscript letter formation to standard book print.
See Riggs’ Course of Study Standards found in our Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I List of Notebook or Wall Charts, pages 101, 157, 160-161, 168, 171, 175-178, 185, 189 and preceding “script,” pages 190, 198-202, 205, 215, 220-221, 229, 233, 236-237, 246, 249 and Skills and Performance Checklists at chapter ends.
8. Are consumable student worksheets used for teaching phonics in your program? If so, over a period of how many years? On a daily basis, how many worksheets are used, and how much classroom time would students need to complete such worksheets? How many workbooks per year? What language arts “strands” do they cover? What is the approximate cost per workbook? If your program or method requires direct or Socratic instruction, what amounts of time and teacher training are required? Please cite pages from your teacher’s manuals.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Our program uses no worksheets; it requires direct, multi-sensory and Socratic instruction. It teaches listening, speaking, penmanship/letter formation, spelling (with phonetics, rules of spelling, plurals and syllabication), composition, reading, comprehension, grammar, syntax, vocabulary development, analytical and inferential thinking skills, PLUS auditory, visual, verbal and motor cognitive sub skills – basic skills to use across the curriculum AFTER they have been established. This program requires 2.5 hours daily, K-3, to implement fully and with optimal results. See chart pages 51-52.
9. How is initial letter formation introduced and taught in your program? Is this connected to or separate from phonics instruction? Is it through dictation, copying, connecting the dots, or another method? Please furnish page references.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We teach initial letter formation through dictation with the multiple phonemes of the letters of the alphabet. This ties the letter symbol (the only real “picture” needed to establish the “alphabetic principle”) to the sounds – the phoneme/graphemic correspondences needed for correct spelling – the only spelling which “maps” accurately to standard “book print” for reading. This takes about 3 weeks for kindergarten students and about 1.5 weeks for grade 1 and up.
See detailed, step-by-step instructions on the backs of The Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking “Revised” Orton Phonogram Cards and in Chapter III, lessons 1-8 of the Riggs’ Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I
10. How does your program facilitate the visual transition from printed handwriting to standard serif-style book print? Please give some examples and cite page references from your curriculum.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We teach vertical, manuscript-style printing (the closest thing to standardized book print) through a process which helps to correct and prevent common letter reversals. Our students write and spell first so the transition to book print is specifically included in our instruction. Please see these practices (combined with phonemic/graphemic awareness practice) listed on pages 156-157, 185, 215, 229 and 246 in Riggs’ Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I
11. Is initial letter formation in your program vertical or slanted Can you cite your research for your choice of style?
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: We use vertical manuscript which does not lift the pencil except to dot the i and j and cross the f, t and x. We use 2, 10, 8 and 4 positions on a clock face and 4 lines (the top base line, the base line and the two dotted middle lines) as reference points to dictate the shape and form of the letters. This teaches spatial relationships, directionality, listening and fine motor control. We use research from the Reading, English and Communication Clearinghouse website at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED409589.pdf. This research supports the use of a vertical style letter (relates better to book print like Zaner Bloser) but which does not lift the pencil in formation (more like D’Nealian) thus we feel that we have incorporated the two primary components of efficient initial letter formation.
12. When is cursive handwriting taught and what method is used? Please cite your research for its proven efficacy.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Generally, we teach cursive at the beginning of the second semester of grade 2. We first practice the use of six connectors and use those connectors only when “developmentally appropriate” – when children have learned to think and write in syllables. We have found that putting “connectors” on letters or slanting letters before children have learned to make the transition to book print and reading is much less efficient than waiting.
13. How is spelling taught in your program? Do you teach spelling rules? If so, how many? Plural rules? If so, how many? Syllabication rules? If so, how many? Please give examples and explain how and when they are taught. Please list page references from the curriculum.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: See #3 above. As already stated, our first application of phonetics and letter formation instruction is used to initiate correct spelling through dictated lessons, which also incorporate vocabulary development, plurals, prefixes, suffixes and the roots or paronyms of word families (NOT bat – cat – fat – sat – rat, which are merely rhyming words) but words like two – twin – twice – between – twenty. We teach 31 spelling, 8 plural and 9 syllabication rules beginning in the 7th week of kindergarten and the 4th week in grade 1 and up. They are taught as they apply to words; teachers say them, children say them with the teacher and repeat them until they are mastered. Not by rote, but on an analytical basis. Notebook pages or wall charts illustrate the use of some of them, i.e. (page 336) “We use /ei/ after /c/ (receipt), if we say “a” (veil) and in some exceptions: neither – foreign – sovereign – seized – counterfeit – forfeited – leisure – either – weird – heifer – protein – seismograph – kaleidoscope.” OR (page 236) “When adding a vowel suffix, silent final e words are written without the e.” [rake/raked/raking, hope/hoped/hoping, serve/service, use/usage/usable, race/racial/racing] For “page references” we really must give the entire Teacher’s Edition; the “core” of the entire language arts program are the daily spelling lessons. A sample lesson from Riggs’ Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I, is shown here:
14. How many spelling words are taught during the kindergarten year? Grade 1? Grade 2? How is mastery assessed? Please explain and cite curriculum page references.
RIGGS RESPONSE: Daily spelling mastery is assessed using a rotating 30 word test. Six of the oldest words are dropped as six new ones are added from the daily spelling lessons. There is a monthly test using the Riggs Orthography Scale which tests mastery of spelling patterns; which include plural and various verb tense word forms. [Dr. Donald Nelson, College of Education, Southern Arkansas University, Standards and Assessment Measurements] We teach 425, 850 and 720 words in grades K, 1 and 2 respectively. (See pages 29 42 Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I)
15. What specific skills are taught in your program to improve listening skills? Speech skills? Where and when are these practiced? Please cite pages in your curriculum to show examples.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: The very first skill taught in this program is listening. In the formation of letter forms through dictation, the student must listen intently, comprehend, process the information and make his/her hand and pencil do something visual and directional with the information. When phonetic skills are taught, and especially when they are tested by writing from only the spoken individual sounds, focused listening is required. When words are dictated, the student first listens to the word pronounced, gathers phonemic awareness information (what sounds am I hearing, how can I segment them, how many syllables, etc) then names the sounds in succession as the teacher asks for them. All require auditory discrimination, processing and execution with the printed symbols. Students listen to the words given by the teacher and to the modeling of sentences with correct grammar, syntax and the correct use of the word itself in the sentence. They begin to speak these sentences themselves and they listen closely to what their classmates are saying. When notebook pages are dictated or spelling tests given, listening is first.
Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I, Chapters III, IV and all of V for references. The entire course is really devoted to and depends upon the student’s listening abilities.
16. How is comprehension taught in your program? How is it assessed on an ongoing basis? Is oral comprehension stressed? If so, when and where? Do you specifically teach analytical or inferential thinking? With specific exercises? Please cite page references from your curriculum or teacher’s manual.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Oral comprehension is stressed from the first day. Detailed instructions are dictated to form letters, then to spell words, to ask for the answers to Socratic questioning in those processes. Spelling words are given with correct sentences for context, comprehension and vocabulary development. The “language of instruction” is taught with every lesson. This improves and increases vocabulary which is a prerequisite for comprehension. The students, spell, write (compose) and analyze the sentences they and others are writing; comprehension is involved and practiced. Socratic questioning is used with all lessons as a teaching technique designed to promote thinking and analysis, which improve comprehension. Spelling words are practiced to the point of automaticity – a prerequisite to free the mind for comprehension. Three times a week, the McCallCrabbs Standard Test Lessons in Reading are used to practice and test comprehension. They are normed for K up to college level performance.
We cite our entire Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I and all the lessons in it for reference. We will send upon request some sample lessons from the McCall-Crabbs Standard Test Lessons in Reading which have been a classic staple of Teachers College Press for many years.
17. How is vocabulary built in your program? Do you specifically teach Latin and Greek roots? Prefixes? Suffixes? If so, how is this done? Please explain the answer to each question and cite page references from your curriculum.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: The entire spelling list is also a vocabulary list in the way that it is taught. Since children use all the words in oral and/or written sentences and are trained in the meaning of all the words used in the “language of instruction,” they naturally gain vocabulary daily. The K-1 spelling/vocabulary list teaches some paronyms (roots) and a few affixes. The Riggs K-2 Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Basic Spelling and Usage Dictionary has 4832 entries with each word having at least two sentences to show meaning and correct usage, which helps to increase vocabulary. Daily reading to students is recommended (choice of literature belongs to the school; however, we have four pages of recommendations about building exceptional classroom level libraries). Because of expert encoding, recoding and decoding skills during the first two months, children can and should be reading to themselves from interesting literature with expansive vocabularies. We do not delay the teaching of the entire phonetic system for correct spelling therefore children’s literature need-not ever be reduced to any particular level of decoding. The use of the spelling and syllabication rules and how they are taught also increases vocabulary because it greatly increases the ability to analyze and think – including the meaning of words. We urge teachers to expand their own vocabularies so the speech they model will be another source of increasing vocabulary.
In grade two, considerable work on the meanings of prefixes, suffixes and roots becomes more focused. We use Joegil Lundquist’s English From the Roots Up to teach several Latin and Greek roots and how words are made. Required teacher resources are collegiate level dictionary, The ABC’s and All Their Tricks; Margaret Bishop and Ehrlich’s Instant Vocabulary. Our Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level II and a grammar, syntax, and composition resource text for Levels II, III will carry many spelling lessons which define and illustrate prefixes and suffixes
18. How is formal grammar and syntax taught in your program? When do you begin? Do you use any oral parsing? Any diagramming? Do you connect grammar and syntax to composition skills? If so, how is this done? Do students analyze what they have written themselves or only what others have written? Please explain and cite page references from your curriculum.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Simple grammar and syntax instruction begins promptly in lessons 56 and 59 (nouns and pronouns, pages 222-224 and 226-228) after students begin to write their own creative sentences (this would be the 14th week for K; 7th week for grades 1 and up). Grammar and syntax are regularly sequenced between spelling and composition instruction throughout the K-1 Teacher’s Edition as follows:
Lessons 36, 43, 49 and 50: Writing Declarative, Interrogative and Imperative Sentences
Lesson 66: Use of Apostrophes in Possessive Nouns, Pronouns and Contractions
Lesson 67: Verbs – Their Tenses and Helpers
Lesson 72: Simple Subject/Intransitive Verb Diagramming (example: Birds | fly. Snow | melts.)
(See Diagram “models” and worksheet or transparency master on page 252; these are begun now and are added to through the year.)
THIS WOULD BE ALL THAT IS DONE ON GRAMMAR IN THE KINDERGARTEN YEAR IF TEACHERS ARE PROCEEDING AT A SUGGESTED HALF PACE WITH THE PROGRAM.
Lesson 83: Adjectives and Articles
Lessons 85 and 86: Syntax – The Construction of Sentences – Transitive Verbs/Direct Objects
Lesson 92: Transitive and Linking Verbs
Lesson 103: Adjective Comparison (example: full, fuller, fullest)
Lesson 109: Adverbs – What They Modify – The Questions They Answer
Lesson 116: Parsing Nouns – Gender, Person, Number, Case
Lesson 122: Prepositions, Adverb and Adjective Prepositional Phrases
Lesson 124: Diagramming with Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
Lesson 129: Parsing Pronouns
Lesson 132: Subject-Verb Number Agreement
Lesson 135: Parsing Verbs
Lesson 154: Syntax – Diagramming Compound Sentences and Compound Subjects and Predicates
(These grammar and syntax lessons are taught with the use of illustrative wall charts and direct, Socratic instruction, parsing, diagramming, all with guided practice. The writing of daily sentences using pertinent spelling words, coupled with other composition lessons becomes an inherent part of our grammar instruction.)
19. How is creative composition taught? When? Are subjects usually assigned? How do such assignments relate to vocabulary building? Do students choose their own subjects? What syntax skills are taught prior to, or with, creative composition? Do you teach the writing of simple sentences? Do you follow that with topic sentences and paragraphs? Do you practice each step separately? Is composition related to reading instruction? Please explain and cite page references from your curriculum.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: The beginning steps of legible creative composition with proper grammar and syntax is rooted in early letter formation, complete phonetics with rules and dictated spelling lessons – the mechanics of written prose or poetry [Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I]. Sentence writing and using daily spelling words begins in about the 10th week (K) or 5th week (grades 1 and up). This begins with declarative sentences (lesson 36), then interrogative, imperative, etc. Children are expected to write with correct spellings. If errors are detected by the teacher, the student’s attention is called to it as they are taught to consult their teacher-student made resources (wall charts and spelling lists) to find correct answers. Capital letters and punctuation are systematically taught as needed, i.e. we teach the use of the question mark (and how to make it) when interrogative sentences are assigned. Daily sentence writing persists throughout the 4 years of lesson plans. It expands, organizationally, into topic sentences and paragraphs in lesson 77. Our definition and illustration wall charts include Proofreader Marks, Checklists for Better Writing, Organizing Compositions (lesson 77), Punctuation (lesson 83), Outlining (lesson 112), etc. Writing letters and addressing envelopes is covered in lesson 96 and Descriptive Paragraphs in lesson 120. Students are most often allowed to choose their own subjects in the various practices. We have children well into creative writing before any formal syntax (except capitalization and needed punctuation) is taught. This comes from the students’ speech and oral comprehension plus their ability to listen, be aware of phonemes and graphemes and rules involved in correct spelling, as well as their considerable ability with spacing, margins and legible handwriting. The earliest composition is probably more related to spelling than reading, but as skills progress, ideas conveyed through reading, especially “across the curriculum” assignments become favorite topics for creative composition.
20. What organizational skills are taught in connection with creative composition? At what grade level would you begin to teach such skills? Do you teach outlining? If so, is this instruction related to comprehension and reading? Do your K-2 children write book reports? Or give oral book reports? Are they taught to write friendly letters or thank you notes? If so, how and when are these skills taught? Please explain and cite page references.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Please refer to answers in #18 above. We begin to teach organization composition in Grade 1. Yes, we teach outlining and the writing of book reports (lesson 112). We believe that children clarify their own thinking by writing their thoughts on paper – a significant step towards comprehension and true understanding.
21. Are any of the integrated language “strands” or the methodologies used to teach them designed to build specific cognitive development in primary students? If so, how and when is this done? What cognitive development is involved? Please explain and cite reference pages from your curriculum. Is cognitive development recognized by your company’s curriculum designers as a desired part of teaching in the early grades?
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Yes, Riggs believes that cognitive development is the essential key to preparing each child to learn at his/her individual optimal levels of performance. Using multi-sensory, direct and Socratic instruction, we teach auditory, visual, verbal and motor cognition beginning with the very first introduction to the explicitly taught phonics (sound/symbol relationships) along with dictated instructions for concurrent letter formation. The following is taken from the introductory chapter of our Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I:
“Imagine, if you will, placing a harmless neuro-imaging scanner on the brain of a child who is being taught with such instruction. You would be able to actually see the computer screen light up in red and yellow as it rapidly, and in real time, shows the synapses taking place in connecting the neurons, simultaneously, between the auditory, verbal, visual and motor areas of the brain. You will be able to watch the building of cognition…”
Our entire instructional method derives from the early brain research, practice and clinical experimentation of Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a neuropathologist and brain surgeon who worked for 25 years (along with successful classroom teachers) to develop a neurologically sound program which could re-teach language skills to individuals who had suffered specific organic or physiological brain impairments. Before he passed away in 1948, he asked teachers, “What would happen if we just used this same method with normal primary children?” The Riggs method is the latest method derived from his conclusions. When this method is used, it has been found to produce veritable little geniuses out of quite ordinary children. We believe the cognitive development established early on and throughout the teaching of the method over four years is responsible for this. Contemporary brain researchers now have the equipment to validate what is happening in the brain and we call upon them to do so. The Riggs Institute’s Course of Study standards show 2.5 pages of separate cognitive developmental sub-skills which we believe can be routinely built through the correct application of this method in the classroom. These skills are listed on pages 45-47 in the Riggs’ Training Manual. Additional citations are found on pages 69-72, and here and there throughout the Level I Teacher’s Edition.
22. Does your language arts curriculum offer specific “standards” of achievement by grade level and how do teachers assess whether students have reached your prescribed academic goals for each grade level? Do you have the means, within the curriculum, to measure such standards of academic achievement? Please explain and cite page references from your curriculum. Is your assessment system used to adjust the curriculum as teachers and students proceed through the year to assure student mastery? Please explain and cite references from your curriculum and/or assessment tools.
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Our K-7 Language Arts and Cognitive Development Course of Study Standard is available in the Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Training Manual, (see pages 41-62). We use our own Skills & Performance Checklists for all skills at the end of each set of 10 lessons [Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, Teacher’s Edition Level I ] to facilitate ongoing adjustments to assure mastery of our instructional objectives (see at end of each 10 lessons). Other assessments are as follows:
- Phonics/Handwriting: tested daily until mastery; reviewed regularly.
- Spelling: tested daily; the normed monthly Riggs’ Orthography Scale is given nine times per year.
- Comprehension: Normed McCall-Crabbs Standard Test Lessons in Reading 2 to 3 times weekly.
- Cognition: The Reading Acts Test
- Composition/Grammar: Portfolios of composition and grammar work are maintained for assessments in those areas.
23. Is any of your curriculum especially suited for parental use or guidance?
RIGGS’ RESPONSE: Parents generally approve of this method of instruction after learning what it is about and are willing to assist teachers in using it, particularly if their children have had learning problems. We offer to both teachers and parents a downloadable visual/auditor overview, complete with a Curriculum Evaluation form. This is ideal for an administrator who wants to interest his staff and the community in a method of this nature.
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