Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ABeCeDarian Company: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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The ABeCeDarian Company sent me some reading manuals to review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. During the review period I was able to find out exactly what is offered in the Student Manual A-1 and the Teacher Manual A-1 and implement the program for roughly four to five weeks with a child who is 4 years old, and will be turning five very shortly.

Before reviewing this researched-based reading program I had never heard of this company, and I really don't understand why. This reading program is outstanding and I wished I had known about this program sooner when my children were learning how to read, or before I spent countless hours on other programs just to put them aside because of the clear gaps that were showing up as the child progressed in the program. As a former reading tutor in a charter school it is a relief to know that there is a company that has researched their material and how children learn to read. Unfortunately while working as a tutor I witnessed the reading program was what was hindering the student's success at learning to read, rather than the child not being willing and ready to read. In this reading program there isn't any cute stickers to offer the child, and to be frank no bells and whistles. But if you want your child to love to learn to read and be motivated by their own hard work at becoming a reader, well this reading program is for you.

This has been a difficult review for me to write up because there is so much packed in this reading program that I want to share, and I don't really want to miss anything of importance.

From their Website:

The ABeCeDarian Reading Program

ABeCeDarian Company publishes and distributes the ABeCeDarian Reading Program, a research-based, explicit, comprehensive, multi-sensory decoding program developed by Michael Bend, Ph.D. The program efficiently addresses the key areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency. It provides the depth and structure necessary for tutors, interventionists, and special education teachers to help the weakest readers from age 5 to adult make outstanding progress. The beginning levels of the program also make an outstanding program for a regular education teacher to use with her whole class.  Upper levels of the program provide excellent word study materials for students in grades 3-6.  The comprehensive and straightforward organization of the program make ABeCeDarian an excellent choice as well for home-schoolers.

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When the program materials first arrived I spent a lot of time going over the teacher's manual it resonated with me and I just shook my head in agreement with the practices it was sharing with me. Level A is intended for early or beginner readers. They need not know any sounds, and it helps if the child has no prior knowledge of the names of the alphabet. See I have a whole lot of experience with helping children learn to read and one of the commonalities in the experience was those children who knew the names of the alphabet had a harder time grasping the phonetic sounds. As the manual unfolded how the program works I felt old school learning how to read and the latest research had finally gotten married. When I finished reading the manual I felt blessed that I would be able to guide a child who would love to read and would know that they could.  

Also once I was into the fifth lesson the script became natural to me and this is the first time I can say that about a scripted teacher's manual.

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Now it was time to implement this with my student. Eric did have prior knowledge of some of the phonetic sounds, and was at the beginning stages of decoding as well . Eric spends a lot of time with our Montessori Sandpaper letters and could care less about any other reading materials. This was just perfect, because truly he could use his Sandpaper letters with this program and it would open a whole new world for him, which it did.

We started with lesson 1 and reviewed his sounds while he played a game that was scripted in the teacher's manual for me to use while manipulating the Sandpaper letters.


In the workbook there are pages for the child to complete word puzzles. in the photo above Eric is decoding the word cat. There are free support materials available here  that offer letter tiles for you to use that can assist with the games, but like I mentioned earlier Eric likes the Sandpaper letters and although they were bigger than the space that was provided it worked for him, and with this program it allows plenty of room to follow the child.
 Within the first three lessons and the pattern continues the child is introduced to 6 letter sounds. At the end of each lesson the child is then shown how to write three of the letters and a word that was one of the word puzzles. Eric is resistant to writing right now and still loves to just use the Sandpaper letters instead of a pencil. This program allows flexibility for a student like him. In Eric's case we just skipped the writing with hand practice pages and continued with his interest of wanting to learn how to read.

 At the end of the third lesson when all of the sounds have been practiced there is a review. Eric didn't have a clue that this was review, but was thrilled that he was able to confidently recognize the sounds. When I said a sound he would point to it.
 Eric also used the Sandpaper letters again to replace writing the sound that I said aloud.
 I never thought that he would love those Sandpaper letters more than before, but he loves doing these pages in the workbook with the letters and does it independently. It is a pleasure hearing him say the sound and match them with the Sandpaper letters all on his own.

As we progressed in the program Eric also fell in love with Turtle Talk, and People Talk. I would sound out the word slowly like a turtle and Eric would repeat the word in regular speech, and this my friend was the tool needed for Eric to blend sounds together, and become an excellent decoder as well.

 Before we knew it Eric was reading his very own reader for the first time. He is a happy reader, and may not really understand how much work he did to become a reader. The lessons were effortless for him and I am so glad that we were able to review this program so that his love for learning continues.

The ten storybooks that we were sent that go along with this program have excellent story lines and are given to the child once the child has shown mastery of sounds that are in the book. These wonderful readers have become the motivation that Eric looks forward to. He has been building a library for his hard work adding  books at the appropriate time.

You can count on reading more about this program on this blog as I will be continuing this program with other children as well. I was also blessed with the following manuals as well  Student Workbook A-2,Teacher Manual A-2,Student Workbook B-1, and Teacher Manual B-2.

Also I was sent this awesome book that includes 11 of Aesop's Fables. Again this book goes along with the manuals and at the right time the child will be able to independently read these enriching stories that will lead them into what the beautiful world that books can offer.

The ABeCeDarian Reading Program that includes levels A1, A2, and B1 are packaged in one volume for $29.95. You will want to purchase the storybooks which cost $21.50, and also the ABeCeDarian Aesop reader which cost $2.50. All the materials can be purchased separately go here for the printable price list and to see what else they have to offer.                                                         
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