Dynamic Reading and Writing  - Expert Techniques by Sylvia Hannah Sinclaire

On Teachers of Reading and Writing.

Dynamic Reading And Writing is different from other approaches to reading and spelling. Most programs that I have seen, and worked with, over the years teach words as if they are merely sequences of letters to be memorized. The programs may emphasize patterns within words; however, the patterns taught are only visual patterns. For example, on many occasions I have seen lessons that teach the "ea" pattern within words. This is taught as a visual pattern only. There are many words in English that contain the letters "ea", e.g. bread, season, steak, etc. When you teach words as if they are visual sequences only, you are forced to show the many exceptions contained within English.

A more logical, and sound, way to introduce words is to present them as part of the system of sounds that form English. The most consistent aspect of English is that there are forty sounds that form all English words. This hasn't changed for many years. And this is how English is defined. It is an alphabetic language, which means that it is a language of a finite number of sounds represented by a finite number of letters. The sounds of the language define the letters. If you know the sounds of English, and can hear their number, and sequence, in specific detail, then you can decipher (read and spell) all English words.

Going back to the "ea" lesson, if we teach the system of English vowel sounds (there are seventeen, in general), then we can show how those sounds are spelled. The "sound" system is taught first. Then the alternate spellings of those sounds fits into a system rather than seeming to be a random list of exceptions. Students who learn the English system of sounds can feel confident that they know how English works. That it is workable and learnable.

Dynamic Reading and Writing:

  • teaches words as sound sequences, first. Students learn to feel, hear, and manipulate sounds in syllables (words), and to match what they say to the letters they use.
  • provides alternate spellings. Once a sound is learned, then its alternate spellings are learned.
  • emphasizes high frequency words. The sound, and spelling, patterns are used with words that are found in all print materials. These high frequency words are provided in all lessons, so that teachers have easy access to real word examples.
  • teaches about the high frequency of reading and spelling difficulties. The statistic "one-quarter to one-third" is critical to understand.

If you speak to kindergarten teachers, they will tell you that they are worried about the reading development of one-quarter to one-third of their students.

If you speak to researchers in the area of phonological awareness, you will hear that one-quarter to one-third of our population have some phonological awareness difficulty. So, many of our children entering school are going to have difficulty learning to read and spell because they are bringing in their weakness with phonological awareness. Unless we teach them correctly, they will continue to have a problem with print.

What is our high-school dropout rate in North America? It's around thirty percent. I don't want to be simplistic; however, I know that most of those students have experienced literacy difficulties. And how many of them had phonological awareness difficulties in kindergarten? And beyond? Typically, those difficulties were never addressed.

Workplace literacy statistics, from year to year, state that 21% to 33% of Canadians in the workforce do not have literacy skills beyond Level 1, which is considered to be a grade nine level. They are said to not have Functional Literacy. The percentage, again, is one-quarter to one-third!!!!

Dynamic Reading and Writing deals with Functional Literacy. As I mentioned above, Functional Literacy is usually considered to be the level of literacy at which a person can read up to a grade nine level, a level that enables participants to manage, or function, in the real world.

I would like to revise this definition. Functional Literacy is really "multi-syllabic" literacy. If a person cannot correctly analyze multi-syllabic words, he or she becomes less competent and capable -- because the knowledge/information words in English are long. Not only do individuals need to be able to figure out longer words, they need to be able to remember them. Without multi-syllabic phonological awareness/literacy, individuals are forced to try to memorize long sequences of letters, and this is extremely taxing to their visual memory.

Individuals who try to memorize long words don't learn words very quickly. They don't learn new words very easily. They usually remain at lower levels of literacy. They are stuck, unless we teach them correctly.

Dynamic Reading and Writing explains the reading and spelling mistakes students make. So many of the errors students make are linguistic errors. That is, they are sound errors based on how students hear words.

e.g. when they read or spell "chrain" for "train", it's because the sound /ch/ seems very similar to the sound /t/. This error makes no sense, visually, but it is perfectly explainable when you think about words as sound sequences.

e.g. when they spell "sand" as "sad", it's not because they don't know what sound the letter "n" makes. It's because they don't hear the sound /n/ when it's in that particular position within this word.

e.g. when they don't know what letter to print for the "o" in "condition", it's because this vowel sound is a schwa. The sound is unaccented, and therefore unclear. It sounds like /u/, so it is difficult to know which vowel letter to use. All multi-syllable words have schwaed, or difficult to hear, vowel sounds. Those are always the sounds that are difficult to spell.

Dynamic Reading and Writing provides the techniques and strategies for accurate reading and spelling with:

  • young developing readers
  • grades four, five, and six students who have struggled to learn to read and spell
  • junior high students who are reading and spelling at an elementary school level
  • senior high school students who find it difficult to read their school textbooks
  • adult learners who avoid reading and writing because they feel frustrated with their skill levels


My book, "Why Your Child Can't Read And Spell And What YOU Can Do About It", explains all of this and more, and shows you how to help your child. To purchase my book, visit my store.