Cynthia After 42 Hours of Practice

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  1. A Short-Vowel Exercise
  2. A Phonemic Awareness Exercise (basically spelling)
  3. A Left-to-Right Exercise. Cynthia hadn't seen this exercise before she was recorded.  It was assigned because she was ready.

Currently, Cynthia is working on...

When Cynthia (not her real name) began working with me, she did well on the easiest drills, suggesting a high reading aptitude, but a short informal test indicated she knew very little about reading, earning a 1/10. Two months later, she scored a five on the same test. A five means "Knows what to do, needs much more practice."

Spelling Exception Characterization

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Because the U in buy is silent, it's unnecessary. Therefore, buy could easily be spelled b-y, making purchase an alternate definition of by. This is a major class of spelling exceptions.

Similarly, the E in the long-vowel-silent-E pattern is silent, but still influential: It changes the short-A in "Cat" to to the long-A in Cate, a woman's name. That means h-a-v-e should rhyme with "save" as seen in... "behave." Have should be spelled h-a-v.

How many exceptions like these can an advanced Rails student spot at the beginning of first grade?

The clip shows that this student has developed a deep understanding of basic spelling rules, and could apply them to rectify some of the peculiar spellings chosen by Noah Webster (in Webster's dictionary). Interestingly, even fast learners vary substantially in their ability to spot unnecessary letters.

Cynthia Reading

Video Clip Content

Cynthia Reading
Cynthia asked to read a book she had read with her mother a few times.



Hard Words
(errors in parenthesis)

 race (rack)     check
 cars            tire
 them            with
 want (when)     make
 first           bang
 place           begin
 quick
 pump (pop)
 hatch (hitch)
 drop
 latch
 now

Most punctuation marks demand subtle pauses in otherwise continous speech. When such pauses are not aligned with real punctuation (commas, periods, ellipses, colons, semicolons, etc.), passages with complex grammar become incomprehensible to the ear. Happily, this grammar is not complex. Fast readers glance ahead to identify approaching words and pauses.

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