March 30, 2006 at 3:51 PM CST - Updated June 29 at 7:45 PM
Teachers Develop New Way to Teach Reading By: Lauren Keith
Caruthersville, MO - Take a minute to remember when and how you learned to read. Chances are, that technique has changes. In Caruthersville, teachers use a new way of teaching phonics. It involves a road trip to Chicago, some chanting, and*even some sign language.
When you walk by Mrs. Lugenia Counce's third grade classroom, it almost sounds like a rendition of "Old McDonald had a Farm," but the sounds coming from Lugenia Counce's third grade classroom actually helps these students become better readers. It's called learning phonics.
"We develop the beginning sounds--this makes connections in their brains," said Counce.
"it's a phonics and phoenemics awareness. They're able to recognize letters, sounds. What Mrs. Counce did was help them sound out the letters they're seeing on the wall," says Sherry Copeland, a counselor with Caruthersville Schools.
The technique also uses word association. Students sound out letters that match a picture---and remember it. The hope is… when these students turn a page in a book, they'll recognize a letter, and remember the sound.
"They are more aware of how to pronounce the words, the phonics help with that, but moreover, they're learning how to develop different parts of their brain," said Counce.
Plus, these students practice this chanting over and over again, starting in pre-kindergarten and even continuing into middle school. That practice reinforces everything they've learned.
"It's really fun--sometimes we mess up, but we get it day after day," said third grader Daniel Fugate.
This method started after Caruthersville teachers noticed some students picked up reading quickly, while others lagged behind. So, they loaded up and traveled all the way to Chicago to learn from the woman who started it all--- education guru Marva Collins.
"A lot of our demographics in Caruthersville are the same as inner city--so, it made sense to look at what they're doing to close the education gap," said Copeland.
Twenty-five year veteran teacher Lugenia Counce took Marva Collins' method one step further. She incorporated sign language! As you can see, the students also sign the sounds they're making!
"When I saw them adding in the sign language, I was so proud of them. They are so, so smart," said Copeland.
Call it multi-tasking, if you like, but kids today are used to that.
"The kids are versatile and at this age, they're like sponges, they soak it all up," said Counce.
"Mrs. counce shows us it and it just takes one time and we start doing it all over again, and we remember!" said third grader Megan Fruhling.
Plus, Mrs. Counce says just getting the kids up and moving around the room, keeps them refreshed, which is also key in the learning process.
"I'm hoping it will make a difference next week in their MAP tests, but I also hope it will make a difference in their whole life!" she said.
A year after the teachers traveled to Chicago, they convinced the Caruthersville district to bring the expert, Marva Collins, to their Bootheel classrooms.
Collins came over the summer, and now, all Caruthersville classrooms from pre-k to eighth grade do that phonics method, every morning-- sometimes even multiple times during the day! For more on the method, contact Caruthersville Schools.