Saturday, March 29, 2014

Beginning Readers & Writers vs. Navy "Morse Code" Operators!

Okay, so imagine that you are a first-year Morse Code Operator, newly-assigned to a Naval War Ship, and your job is to "decode" all incoming messages and relay them to the captain, as well as  "encode" outgoing messages, as directed....

clipart by Phillip Martin 
But there's a problem.  

As you've only just begun the first in a 3-YEAR Morse Code Training Program, you've only learned one third of the code! How can you possibly be expected to accurately send and receive messages knowing just a THIRD of the code?!!  How will you be able to account for all the sounds you haven't learned? 

Should you omit them?  

Or perhaps substitute them with the  codes you do know?   
Maybe you could just change the message entirely using just the parts of the code you already know?  
     Dear Captain, 
     It's a big sub.  I like it.  I like it so much.  It's  really fun.  
     I really really really like the big fun sub!

These are the common strategies employed by beginning and struggling readers and writers when attempting to work around all of the sound skills (i.e. phonics patterns and sounds) they don't know! And try as we might as their teachers, we simply cannot protect students from text containing letters/ letter patterns they haven't yet learned when reading. 

Regardless of the fact that  th is considered a first grade skill by traditional grade level scope & sequence, kindergartners will encounter this pattern over one hundred times on their very first day! It's on every page in every book...and practically in every sentence! (And don't even get me started on Sneaky Y™!)  

Nor can we, as teachers, predict which letter sounds and/or phonics patterns beginning learners will need to know to spell the words they will want to write in the stories they want to tell. (A learner could theoretically search the alphabet chart a hundred times over and never find the 'letter' that makes the oy sound in the word toy). 

And to compensate for what they "don't know/haven't learned" when writing, learners are likely to:
-delete the sounds/ letters they don't know in the words they want to write b)
-substitute letters/sounds they do know for those they don't 
-alter what they want to write to what they already know how to write, so as to be able to spell/write it correctly  (as shown in the repetitive kinder writing sample below).

Now lets take a look at some kindergarten writing samples, starting the first day of school, prior to knowing any "secrets" (Secret Stories®).

These first two kindergarten writing samples were from the 1st Day of School

*The next two are from mid-September (at approximately the '1-month' mark)
Students were given the written prompt- "In the Fall..." 
(with verbal instructions to write what they like to do in the Fall)

*These next three are from mid-December
(Writing Prompt- "Why I Love the Holidays!")

*This next grouping is from the Spring (and yes, they ARE kinder! :)

*For more writing samples (or to view larger) CLICK HERE
(By this point, the kids know so many SECRET STORIES® that many were too long to post!)

It's ironic that many kindergartners can persevere through daily reading and writing activities for the better part of the year knowing only a handful of the 26 letters and sounds, and virtually NO phonemic patterns. Lack of skill-ownership makes even the richest literacy experiences a whole LOT harder and a lot less fun!

But it doesn't have to be this way, with kids "working harder, and not smarter!" (and I'm not just talking about kids, but teachers too!) Most would agree that beginning readers and writers (like beginning Morse Code Operators) would benefit from acquiring as much of the "code" as possible, as soon as possible!  

So why DO we spread teaching the "code" across three grade level years, from kindergarten to second grade? Traditional instruction dictates that students 'learn to read' in K-2 so that they can 'read to learn' in 3-5. And while this seems logical at the surface, if you dig a little deeper, the inherent flaws are obvious! 

For those learners who struggle to acquire these critical skills at each grade level, it's common that they will begin third grade having not yet learned a good portion of the 'code' needed to read and write. They will effectively be stuck on the hump between learning to read and reading to learn, forced to do both simultaneously. Requiring already struggling-learners to draw inferences, make predictions and glean information from text (i.e. read to learn) while they are still struggling to acquire phonics patterns and sounds (i.e. learning to read) often results in what appears to be problems with comprehension. While comprehension difficulty may be the symptom observed, most often the true problem is skill-automaticity (i.e. forcing the brain to juggle two equally difficult and opposing tasks at the same time).

In addition, by stretching sound skill instruction through the end of second grade, learners are constantly having to work around / compensate for those skills they don't know or haven't yet learned. This void only minimizes the effectiveness and ultimate value of the daily text experiences that we, as teachers, work so hard to provide. More importantly, these 'holes' in skill ability lessen learners' enjoyment of reading and writing, as well as their desire   to engage with text outside of the classroom.  

However, while the 'idea' of teaching everything yesterday might seem ideal, it's also extremely overwhelming, to say the least! Especially since many early learners can't even seem to stay awake through lunch! Teaching abstract skills like letters and sounds to little 'concrete thinkers' can be a lot like herding cats! It can literally take forever and a day for some of the little guys to even be capable to recognizing the letter k!  

So how then could it ever be possible to teach them everything simultaneouslyThe answer is, it's not!  But we can GIVE them!!!

The Brain Develops 'Back-to-Front' 

Because our brains develop back to front, with the social emotive center coming on board first, and the higher-level processing centers (responsible for acquiring, storing, retrieving and manipulating letter sounds and patterns) being last to develop. Knowing this, we can use the brain's system for learning against itselfand begin working smarter instead of harder!    

As shown in the diagram above, singing (i.e. any repetitive pitch, rhythm & intonation) is processed in the rear portion of our brains, which is why even very young and struggling learners are able to easily acquire skill content through song. 

As teachers, we use music to teach as much as possible, especially at the early grade levels-  the Months of the Year, Days of the Week, even the Fifty Nifty States- we sing them all! But what happens when a student is asked to name the month comes before July?  What do they have to do to get the answer?  They have to sing it... the whole entire song! And if they don't pay attention while they're singing, they'll likely have to repeat the process again and again before being able to provide an answer!

This is because skills that are "stored in song" are processed by the rear portion of our brain, and this area is capable only of storing information in 'whole-form' exactly as it went in, much like a 'read-only' disc.  This more primitive area of our brain can easily replay or regurgitate content, but it cannot manipulate it (i.e. take it apart, twist it around, put it back together). It is the front portion, or  executive area of the brain that processes information at this higher level- pulling things apart and putting them back together in new and different ways, as is required for reading and writing. 

And this is why the traditional ABC Song is of no help to learners in acquiring letters and sounds!

Cheat the Brain & Change the Game!

Early learners are quickly and easily able to acquire all of the individual letters and sounds in approximately 2-weeks to 2-months by accessing motor/muscle memory (i.e. Body Intelligence/ James Asher) for skill retrieval, rather than having to rely on slower-to-develop cognitive processing abilities.

Using The Better Alphabet Song (track #1 on the Secret Stories CD) the individual letters and sounds can be given (not taught!) to even the youngest learners, acquiring skills with their lips, tongue and teeth, while circumventing the typically relied upon cognitive-processing channels for sound-skill retrieval! 

Right about now your probably thinking... 
"Wait a minute! I thought you said that music (i.e. singing) was NOT a good way to teach letters and sounds?"  

True, but not if we cheat the system!  
Knowing what we do about the brain's system for learning, we are able to stay one step ahead and take full advantage of what works (easy-access to skills by singing through muscle/ motor memory) while working around all of the pitfalls (auto-pilot singing/ inability to take apart and reconfigure song-content).

Information that is "stored in song" is instantly accessible by simply starting to sing, but as I explained on my VLOG, unlike traditional skill-based songs, with the Secret tories® Better Alphabet Song, learners do not have to sing through the entire song in order to get the sound they need for the letter they want to read or write!  

Because we cheated by starting the tune over after every letter and effectively overriding the brain's system! By breaking the skill content apart into what are, effectively 26 mini-songs, learners are now able to sing/ retrieve the sound they need without having to start from the beginning. In this way, the letter names and all possible sounds for each (in the 'most-likely' order) literally ROLL off their tongues! 

Click here for how to teach the individual letters & sounds FAST with muscle memory!

Click here for the "The Better Alphabet Song"
Pretty cool, huh?!  
And by popular request, I've created a vertical Secret Stories® Alphabet Chart like the one I use in my VLOGS 
(as seen below :)


Now, unlike other individual letter sounds, the short vowel sounds cannot be acquired using the muscle memory technique, given their close proximity to one another in both sound and production shape. With so little variation in muscle movement between them, it's not possible to rely on motor memory for retrieval.  This is why we use "Secrets" to prompt their sounds instead. I'll talk more about the vowels (as well as Mommy E™Sneaky Y™!) in my next post, but if you can't wait, you can watch my VLOGS...
  and here

(And if you don't have the Secret Stories® Classroom Kit 
(with the vowel cues & info)  you can check out the 

Utilizing body intelligence to bypass cognitive readiness and/ or processing ability allows all learners to acquire the individual letters and sounds quickly and easily, paving the way for simultaneously sharing the "Secrets!" This 'buffet-style' approach to literacy-skills and instruction  accelerates learner momentum in both reading & writing by rapidly building-up an arsenal  of tools that are easily retrieved and applied!

By utilizing body intelligence to bypass cognitive readiness and/ or processing ability, all learners can acquire individual letters and sounds quickly and easily, paving the way for simultaneously sharing the "Secrets!" This 'buffet-style' approach to literacy-skills and instruction  accelerates learner momentum in both reading & writing by rapidly building-up an arsenal  of tools that are easily retrieved and applied!

That was a bit lengthier than I'd intended, but I hope it helps 'flesh-out' the concepts for teaching reading & writing with the brain-in-mind, as well as provide some good "food for thought" when it comes to not only what we teach, but when and why, as well!


  1. I can't wait to play The Better Alphabet song with my students tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!


    1. At this point in the year, you might want to 'go all the way' and try the "Letter Runs" with them! Here's the link to that- ..........and don't forget to try it BACKWARDS!!
      (you can also switch from 'long' to 'short' vowel sounds throughout to keep the challenge high :) as well as change the tune to: Happy Birthday, The Star Spangled Banner, etc...
      Looking forward to hearing how they do!

  2. So many great ideas and a great song!!!! Definitely going to try this with my kids! Thanks!!!
  3. The Morse Code Operator is a great analogy! Thank you for this post. :)
    lorepuckett at gmail dot com
  4. I subscribed!! I will be trying this with my kiddos as well!
  5. I attended the Illinois Reading Conference last month and couldn't get into either of your sessions! I couldn't even get close to the doorway :(
    Folks were setting chairs out on both ends of the corridor to hear you, but unfortunately my ears are too old to hear from that far away so I gave up! I'm hoping to have better luck seeing you at the Natl Elementary Principals Conference this summer.

    You should know that your 'Secrets' are an ongoing topic of conversation at our school and have had an incredible impact on our student achievement this year. As a school administrator, it's been truly amazing to witness the progress made at each grade level, especially by our most at-risk. I'm just in awe, as are our parents (which is always a good thing!)

    My teachers were so disappointed that I couldn't get into your session, as they promised the kids that I would take a picture with you to show them. Apparently the teachers that came to your sessions last year tried, but it was too crowded and you had too many people around you afterwards. I told them that this year was even worse, given that I couldn't even get through the door!

    Hopefully I'll have better luck seeing you in July!


    1. I know... it was CRAZY! The committee tried to avoid the overcrowding problem that happened last year by putting both sessions in the ballroom but I think their overall attendance this year was just too high, which ultimately is a good thing (but understandably frustrating when you can't get into what you want to see).

      I will most definitely be at the Principal's Conference in July and I'll even save a seat for you, just in case ;)

      Thanks for your kind email, and please let your teachers (and students) know how happy I am to hear of their progress (and we'll definitely take that picture, as well!)

      Looking forward to meeting you in July,

  6. This is incredible. I appreciate the work that has been put into programs like this and the accessibility of them to other educators and parents. Thank you and well done.


    1. Thank YOU and I'm so glad you found the post here on Mrs. Jump's Blog!!

  7. This was an amazing find. Thank you Deanna Jump for sharing this! I am purchasing the alphabet vertically as I write this. I am so inspired by this motor memory approach. Thank you!


    1. So glad you found the post, and be sure to use the vertical alphabet for the "Letter Runs" too... they're so much fun!! I put the link in the answer to the first comment at the top :)

  8. I am so glad I am subscribed to your blog so that I can find and appreciate programs like this. As a first year teacher, this information makes me see things in a new perspective. I would love the opportunity to use this program in my classroom for my students. I would love the opportunity to share this approach with others given the scientific research that has gone into this. Thanks so much to the developer(s) of this program and the difference it is going to make in teaching.
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  10. You're so welcome, and as a new teacher, you would probably get a better perspective/ context if you watch the VLOGS, starting with #1 here.... ......

    I am gearing up to make the next set before I have to leave town again for conference, with the focus being on "What to do when a "Secret" doesn't work?!!" as that's actually where the fun begins for learners with regard to their daily interactions with text becoming a virtual "playground" for critical thinking!!

    In the meantime, don't hesitate to ask, should you have any questions, and thanks again for your comment!
  11. I'm excited to have a song to share with my kiddos. I would love to win your kit as I am always looking for ways to reach my struggling readers.
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  13. I just discovered Secret Stories and the Better Alphabet Song today and I'm in love! I love how engaging it is and how it can meet so many different learning styles! I really like how you put so much thought into the position of the mouth when you did the action for short a on the you tube video. I'm always looking for new ways to make learning meaningful and fun for my kids (why I was on this blog) and feel like I have hit the jackpot with this find! I wish I could go back in time and could have done this with my class since day one. We review letter sounds and phonograms daily- and I'm embarrassed to admit but it b-o-r-i-n-g the way I'm doing it now and definitely something I want to improve on. This is just what I needed and will totally transform how I teach phonics. So excited to make something that was not so fun into something I know my kids will not only love doing but truly benefit from.


    1. LoL.... I remember feeling the same way when I'd stumble upon something that would completely change the way I teach! I'd always feel SOOO badly for my previous classes, who I sometimes felt, learned 'in spite' of me....especially my very first year - ugh :(

      I remember wanting to buy my whole class t-shirts with- "I survived Mrs. Garner's 1st Year Teaching!!" written across the front!! ;)

  14. I think this sounds fabulous and I will be trying this out with my title students. I notice that my title students DO NOT know their alphabet-ever, nor their sounds. This should be the answer!


    1. It's funny you mention this, as often readiness issues are more pervasive with Title I learners, for a variety of reasons.

      These 'work-around' strategies (i.e. motor/ muscle memory for individual letters and sounds; social/ emotive connections/ cues for complex pattern sound retrieval) are crucial for learners struggling with cognitive readiness.

      For these learners, in particular, the ability to GIVE these core reading and writing skills, rather than having to wait on 'developmental readiness' in order to TEACH them, truly makes all the difference!!

      So many of the problems that Title I learners face stem from the fact that in the first few years of school, they are 'slaves' to their own developmental readiness, resulting in their having to continually play on an uneven playing field!

      By using brain research findings to circumvent these pitfalls, we can actually avoid these deficit areas in the brain entirely, targeting the stronger, more capable areas instead!

      (Hope this makes sense.... have had glass of wine!!! :)

  15. I think this sounds fabulous and I will be trying this out with my title students. I notice that my title students DO NOT know their alphabet-ever, nor their sounds. This should be the answer!
  16. I am a HUGE Secret Stories fan....I use your very first Secret Stories set! Every year, my students amaze me with their writing and reading and they looove their "stories".
    I am so glad to view your videos and your updates here. I learn something new everytime. Thanks so much !


    1. Oh my! You HAVE been using them for a while then!!

      I'm so glad you found the videos and updated info on the Secret Stories website, as I've really been working hard to 'flesh-out' the basic strategy-base.

      I'm curious if you've been in the same grade level since you started using them or if you've moved around a bit?
    2. I have only taught Kindergarten...30 years total. I can't remember exactly how long I have had my set of Secret Stories...maybe since 2000/2001?? .they are just part of my routine. Like I kids constantly amaze me with their progress.
      My best teacher friend went to your workshop ...she was so impressed, she came back and told me all about this great new program. I was so excited I purchased the set with my own money and have been using it ever since.

  17. I will be sharing this with my new teammates of next year's Kindergarten. Soooo excited!
  18. Hello. I have a question. Why don't you do all three A sounds-- A as in apple, A as in gate, and A as in about? I have a chant that I made up years ago with the sounds, but it has all three common A sounds that beginning readers come across in their reading. Just wondered why three Y sounds, but not three As. Thanks for letting me know. Kathleen


    1. Great question! And the answer actually lies in the 'rule-of-thumb' I used when creating the "Secrets" in the first place, which was to "avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen" when it came to identifying the most useful phonics rules!!
      (and by useful, I mean 'only what's necessary to be able to read and write,' given that the goal is to give learners at the earliest grade level EVERYTHING they need to jump into working with text.... both reading and writing!!

      Because the brain will require an explanation for anything encountered on a fairly frequent basis in text- there could be 'no stone left unturned' when it comes to accounting for the various letter patter sound possibilities. This, however, is different from teaching "rules for rules' sake" (i.e. the less useful and/ or less frequently occurring phonics rules/ sound patterns).

      My rule of thumb was to account for only those patterns/ sounds that occurred '5 times or more' in text, given their likelihood to be encountered often enough by learners to require an explanation.

      Patterns/ sounds occurring LESS than five times would are either put in "Word Jail" OR 'rehabilitated' .... so as to avoid having an 'overcrowded prison system' / overcrowded word wall, both of which are equally ineffective ;)

      As for your specific question regarding the letter a and providing the 'uh' or 'schwa sound' being taught/ included in the "Better Alphabet Song" as an additional sound option.... this would be an example having 'too many cooks in the kitchen,' in that there is too little value/ purpose in teaching it.

      What I mean by this is, if a beginning learner knows the SECRETS, he will attack a word like 'about' or 'around' with a 'short a' sound, as he knows that Mommy e isn't 'one letter away' and thus can't make a 'say its name.' Attacking these words with the short a sound will STILL result in learners (even lower level Kindergartners!!) still being able to 'get the word.' In other words, they will still recognize that the word is 'about' or 'around,' regardless of the fact that they attacked it with the short a sound ...... The presumption is that learners can and will apply at least a "grain of common sense" in recognizing the word, and my experience with the 'lowest of the low' kindergartners proves this out!!

      By taking into account the differences between how words can sound, depending upon how they are sounded out, I was able to determine which required SECRETS and which were, for lack of a better term...."figure-out-able!!" LoL!

      With the Sneaky Y, all THREE sounds had to be accounted for, as they are all vastly different (y as in yellow, y as in July, and y as in mommy) ..... Each are entirely different sounds and thus, each must be accounted for with logical explanations as to what / why causes each to occur.

      Again, with the ultimate goal being to GIVE learners EVERYTHING they need to read and write at the EARLIEST grade level, so as to allow EXPERIENCE to be the best teacher..... it was necessary to think in terms of training "ER Doctors" ..... preparing them for what's 'most likely' to roll through the door, while spending less time preparing them to handle the "plague" ;)

      I hope this helps to clarify the basis for the SECRETS, and I promise to get into more detail about exactly this in upcoming posts.... you're just one step ahead with your great question!!!!
    2. Thanks for this. I get the frequency point. We could never teach beginning readers all the sounds that letters CAN make in this isolated way-- look at the VERY many sounds that 'o' can make when paired with 'h' when 'ho' comes at the beginning of a word! :) The only reason I added the 'a' sound heard at the beginning of words like around and about as a third sound in my chant, was because my guys weren't getting that kind of word by knowing just the first two possible 'a' sounds... but maybe it was not the isolated sound that 'a' makes in that case that was the issue, but the fact that they were saying "ar..." as the beginning 'sound', instead of the necessary two syllable "a-r..." When they kept saying 'ar, ar, ar" instead of 'a' when starting words like around, they got stuck. They seemed to get it better when they had that third 'a' sound to try. Thanks for sharing why you do it this way-- always more food for thought-- I can teach 100 years and I'll still be growing my own brain :)

  19. This sounds awesome! I've been looking for a way to help my kinder. Can't wait to try it!
  20. What a great idea! LOVE this and can't wait to use it with my kinders! Thanks for sharing!
  21. This article really intrigued me! As I was reading the "why" of certain discrepancies, I was picturing specific students I've had along the way. thanks for sharing


    1. Getting learners to ask "why" is actually our goal,
      as the "WHY" equals "CRITICAL-THINKING!"

  22. I LOVE secret Stories! My students Love hearing the stories behind each letter or letter pair.


    1. It's so funny how even the high kids love to know WHY..... it goes to show that our brains really do crave "a place for everything, and everything it its place"

  23. I LOVE secret Stories! My students Love hearing the stories behind each letter or letter pair.
  24. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise on learning the letter sounds. This is my first exposure to the Secret Stories. Our school is looking for something to use in grades K - 2 to do a better job of teaching phonics. I will definitely pass this informative blog entry on to the curriculum committee.


    1. Thanks for commenting, and so glad to be able to share them here on Mrs. Jump's Blog!

  25. This was a first introduction to Secret Stories and will immediately begin implementing the practice with my 3 littles who haven't yet become proficient with ABC sounds.
  26. I really enjoyed reading this article. I avoided the ABC song, and instead taught my students sign language for each letter. That, combined with writer's workshop, the students could recognize, write, and sound out each letter in one month. Success!
  27. I am so happy to know there is someone else who knows that singing the ABC song is NOT the answer! I have taught K for 20 years and have used lots of other ways to teach letters and sounds to my students. Motions and movement is great and so is teaching "facial recognition"! How the face looks when you create a sound. My students learn to recognize, write, and sound letters fairly quickly. I can't wait to get your materials! Thanks!
  28. I just found your blog and it seems like perfect timing. I have been looking for a better way to teach phonemic awareness and phonics to my students.
  29. The Secret Stories are great! I can't wait to try them out with my kindergarteners.
  30. I love your vlog and all that you share! I have sent your website link to all my colleagues. Thanks so much!
  31. Katie you are a joy to listen to and learn from. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the Secret stories. I'd love to win a classroom kit!


  1. I have just recently found Secret Stories and have begun to watch your vlog. Thank you so much for sharing! I have begun to use the short vowel run with my class and they love it! Thanks again for sharing.

    1. So glad to hear it and fyi... if your kids get TOO good at the Letter Runs, don't forget to try them "backwards!" ;)
      Thanks for the comment!

    2. This sounds very exciting. I am going to try this in the upcoming year. Thank you.

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  3. I just introduced Super Hero Vowels to my kinders and they love it. Your vlogs have been so helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That's so great to hear, and wait until you tell them about Mommy e and Sneaky Y... you will be amazed at all that they will be able to do!! Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

  4. I am so glad I am subscribed to your blog so that I can find and appreciate programs like this. As a first year teacher, this information makes me see things in a new perspective. I would love the opportunity to use this program in my classroom for my students. I would love the opportunity to share this approach with others given the scientific research that has gone into this. Thanks so much to the developer(s) of this program and the difference it is going to make in teaching.

    1. I'm so glad that you subscribed, as well.... and I'm especially glad that it has provided some 'food for thought' with regard to opening up a new perspective!! More than anything else, THAT'S my ultimate goal with these blogs! Thanks so much for commenting on both Mrs. Jump's Blog and here, and as I'd seen it there first, I responded there in a bit more detail :)

  5. Wow! This is something that I have never thought of or read about before - amazing! Thank you Deanna Jump for sharing. I will be subscribing and going back to follow previous vlogs for more information. Thank you!

  6. I stumbled upon you on Deanna Jump's blog and I am so glad that I did. I can't wait to learn more and try this in my classroom with my kindergarten kiddos.

    Thank you.

    Teaching in Blue Jeans

  7. I am so glad I found your Secret Stories! I love the idea and can't wait to share them with my students.

  8. A lot of our staff are implementing Secret Stories. I am excited to be on the same page as a special educator in our school. However, I do not have the same resources, but I am hoping once I get the resources this will help my unique learners learn the foundation skills better.

  9. Just found your site today! I am excited to learn more about Secret Stories.

  10. I am just becoming familiar with secret stories! How exciting!

  11. Can't wait to try it out with my struggling third grade readers who are reading at a first grade level.

  12. I will be teaching my first class next year- 2nd grade! I learned about Secret Stories in my student teaching and have shared it with several teachers. You make the science behind this learning approach make so much sense. Everytime I watch your vlogs, I always walk away thinking "Of course, why would we teach phonics any other way!" I am working alongside an experienced teacher next year and she is very excited about implementing this into our second grade curriculum. Can't wait to try it out!

  13. I absolutely love your comment, and it truly is amazing how far away we've gotten in literacy skill instruction from what we do actually making SENSE! While there are more and more universities and/ and professors sharing the Secret Stories and other 'hands-on' tools with up and coming teachers in prep programs, there are still many who cling only to 'philosophies of learning,' which when taught without the actual 'how-to' isn't very effective.

    So glad that you are following!!!

  14. Hi! I can't tell you how much your ideas and strategies have made a difference in my kindergarten classroom! My students adore how some letters "can't get along" or are "deeply in love" when standing next to each other in a word. Moreover, they love how some letters just don't follow the rules like they ("try to") do when placed in the front of back of a word, like that tricky "y". Thanks so much for all of your research and time enhancing literacy instruction everywhere. I can't wait to read and learn more of your work!