Richer Resources: There has been at various times
discussion over of Phonics as a teaching method and Whole Language
teaching techniques. What is your experience with each of these?
Patty Crowe: The Whole Language technique focuses on
teaching the student to read entire words, by memorization, really, and
word recognition. Phonics teaches a student to read by learning the
sound each letter makes and sounding out the word. With practice, the
student becomes quite skilled in this and learns to read rapidly and
fluidly. My complaint with the whole language method of teaching reading
is that it is difficult for some students to memorize hundreds and even
thousands of words by sight. Additionally, what will happen to that
student when he or she encountered a new word which has not been taught
in this way. On occasion, students taught in this manner will, over
time, sort of figure out the sound each letter makes on their own and so
be able to read previously unencountered words. But why not just teach
them the sounds of the letters in the first place? Then the student can
read any word, any time, on their own, by sounding it out.
Richer Resources: What got you started writing these
Patty Crowe: I home-schooled all of my children except my
youngest one and taught them all to read using Phonics. They are all
avid readers now and there is almost no greater gift I could have given
them. Home-schooling my youngest son, however, was not possible for
several reasons and so we enrolled him in a Montessori program. He did
very well in that program and I highly recommend it, but one of his
friends who lived across the street from us, a little Hispanic girl, was
really struggling with learning to read. I went into the classroom and
looked at the phonics readers they had and was disappointed with what I
saw. Straight off the bat, the children were being asked to read books
with a multitude of new sounds in them, never giving the child an
opportunity to learn one well before going onto another. It was no
wonder this little girl thought she couldn't read and would be never be
able to. Too much was being thrown at her at once. So, I started
writing these little readers for her, being sure to use only one new
vowel sound in any book, as vowels are really the challenge in
learning to read. The consonants pretty well sound like their own name
and so are easy for the merging reader to learn. It is the vowel sounds
where new readers trip up and getting these well learned is really the
make-break of learning how to read. So I wrote these little readers for
her and one of my sons illustrated them and before long, she had learned
to read! We then piloted them in the whole Montessori class and the
results were really spectacular. The kids loved the illustrations as
well and so the whole project really took off from there.
Richer Resources: What results have you seen with
Patty Crowe: After seeing success with
my son's little friend, we arranged for a pilot to be run in some of the
Montessori classes. The results were quite positive. Not only did the
students love the stories and the illustrations, but the teachers found
that the students remained engaged and even contributed their own
thoughts and ideas to the stories. This is all part of connecting with
books and the entire reading process. The teacher was most impressed
with their great accessibility to the second language learners,
but all of the students who used the books both loved them and easily
learned to read using them.
Richer Resources: I see there are two
sets of readers out now -are there plans for more books?
Patty Crowe: Absolutely. We have
a set of 50 titles outlined. They will cover all of the vowel sounds and
the main rules of phonics. That will be 5 sets total. It may sound
like a lot of books but when you consider that after reading them, the
student will then be able to read just about anything for the remainder
of their life, well, it's not so many after all.
Richer Resources: Patty, thank you for
taking the time for this interview.
Patty Crowe: It was my pleasure. Thank
you for having me.
Patty Crowe can be reached by
to her in care of Richer Resources Publications or by
emailing our editorial department. We will forward to her any
letters or emails received.