In 1997, Congress asked the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) along with the US Department of Education, to form the National Reading Panel (NRP) to review research on how children learn to read and determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective. The results were the basis of the “No Child Left Behind Policy.” According to the NRP, the five essential elements of Reading Instruction are as follows: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Reading Fluency, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension. Based on the research results mentioned above, the Instant Reader Program was developed around five (5) key core elements. These elements are:
1. Phonemic Awareness and Systematic and Explicit Phonics Instruction
- Forty-four (44) phonemes are taught in the program as opposed to just twenty-six (26) letters of the alphabet
- The sequence in which each phoneme is introduced is based on the ease of speaking the sound and the frequency it naturally appears in the English language. This is one critical component of the program since the sequence is not in simple alphabetical order.
- Each phoneme is introduced using an animal friend for better recall
- Animal friends are used in the samples and stories making them more relevant to the students
- Emphasis on blending is given at the start of the program
2. Phonic-Symbol Approach
- Closely related to Phonemic awareness, this gives the relationship of sounds to the written letters
- Letters such as a, e, g, y among others have several different sounds depending on how they are used.
- Symbols placed on top of these letters would differentiate “a” for apple, angel and walk. These symbols help out early in the program while students are still grasping the relationships of each.
- These symbols are removed later in the program
3. Reading Fluency
- The speed of blending sounds to form words is focused upon.
- The first few lessons focus on reading fluency of words and then moves to sentences.
- Focusing on reading fluency makes reading fun and stress-free activity for the kids since each task will only take a few seconds
- Each lesson starts with writing and sounding exercises and would end in the introduction of new words that students are able to read.
- On the latter part, stories with pictures are also read by the students giving association to the words and their meaning.
- Story-telling sessions also increase the association of words and their meanings along with take-home exercises
5. Reading Comprehension
- Reading comprehension tasks start with descriptive sentences of events accompanied with a picture of the event.
- This will later be dialogues, stories, paragraphs and poems (supported by who, what, why, when, where and how type of questions)
- The latter part of the program involves thinking about the questions being asked in the passages given
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