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November 2007 Discussion

As had been stated earlier, this discussion page is an evolving process.  Besides responses to the initial question, several questions/comments have been posted in relation to many of the professional development activities that have recently occurred for Montana ABLE.  The goal is to make this page more user friendly.  Therefore, you will see a chart (below) at the top of each of the main postings for the month.  All you need to do is click on the topic you would like to read more about.  Then just scroll up to read the postings in sequential order on that topic. 

Phonemics and Decoding:  November

 Phonemics - Assessment


 Ideas for MT LINCS


 Math Assessment Ideas



Focus on Basics Issue on Learning Disabilities

Take a look at the new issue of Focus on Basics!  Interesting reading on the Implications of the Phonologic Model of Dyslexia:

The problem is that the affected reader cannot use his or her higher-order linguistic skills to access the meaning until the printed word has first been decoded and identified.   "The Neurobiology of Reading and Dyslexia", Sally E. Shaywitz & Bennett A. Shaywitz, Focus on Basics.

The following message is posted on behalf of Barb Garner:

Learning disabilities is the topic of a new issue of "Focus on Basics", now available at (click on "Focus on Basics" near the top of the right column on the homepage).

Articles range from neurology and dyslexia to legal issues related to serving students with learning disabilities, to best practices shared by skilled teachers, to three states' approaches to serving students with learning disabilities, to addressing the needs of ESOL learners, to technology, to transitions to college, to changing practice at the program and classroom level: there's something for everyone. 

Read on!

Barb Garner, Editor


Math Website for Calculator Practice

Here's something exciting!  One of our neighbors, Laurel Kaae of the Williston Adult Learning Center in North Dakota, emailed MT LINCS with a suggestion that the Missouri Valley Adult Education Association's website provides a link to calculator worksheets.  Thanks, Laurel - good neighbors make good friends!  (At first I didn't see the link.  It's right above the map.  Click on Onlline Lessons...)  NP =)

We use the calculator worksheets at:
If you scroll down there are calculator worksheet links there.



Response to Math Assessment Strand

I thought that I would respond to the math assessment question by sharing some of these worksheet generators.  These are computational worksheet sites. 

Unfortunately, I had a tough time figuring out how to post this.  After some help from my coworker, I was able to have this posted.  Thanks, coworker who will remain nameless.  =) 

(Thanks, KJ, for pointing out the problem with posting.  So now if any of you do not have the original email, you can read them in the Archives and still send postings by clicking on the link at the top of this page.) NP =)

Back to what I was saying, when I use these worksheet generators I save the answer keys in a folder with the student’s name on the file.  If the student has more than one printed worksheet, I use their name plus a 1, 2 , or…etc. after the name.  Any questions????  Feel free to email me, Kathy Jackson at (or just click here and email your thoughts to MT LINCS so that others who may have the same question may see KJ's response.)

Worksheet Generators


This one of my favorites.  The pre-algebra computational worksheets are great.  Be sure to check out order of operations and exponents (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Scroll down this webpage to access an awesome worksheet generator for fractions.  It also has other types of worksheets that can be generated.

RHL School

This is a great whole number worksheet generator that I use.  In order to print it correctly you need to change the printer to landscape.  The numbers change every time you click on the type of worksheet that you want.

Kathy Jackson, Billings



Request for Syllabication in Word

There was a request for the syllabication activity to be posted in Word.  It is now on the Resources page.  Feel free to edit as you wish.  The activity works much better with teacher instruction and modification.  I know that we read from left to right, but most of the time I have the students syllabicate the word from right to left - begin at the end of the word and go over and up!  For some reason when they do this, there is less interference from past learning and the accent comes out right.  Try it!   NP =)


Response to Syllabication Activity

I am so excited about this activity!  I used it today with my case study student.  He caught right on and was so extremely delighted that he could successfully chunk and sound out those longer words...When he sounded out "anthropology", he recalled that his wife had taken a class in it.  COOL!   It's soooo easy!  Cathy Smyers, Missoula


Response to Case Study:  Breaking words into syllables

Cathy, I have posted an activity that you might use to help students learn to break larger vocabulary into syllables.  Click here for the Syllabication activity.  NP =)


Case Study - Send suggestions for Strategies/Materials to MT LINCS

Sample Case Study

Student Background

Male, Native American, 23 years old, sporadic formal education



First Language


Learning Difficulties


 Test Results:

  • Silent Comprehension (TABE):  6.8
  • Word Recognition (WRAT):  8.1
  • Oral Reading Rate:  90 wpm (below normal for this profile)
  • Word Meaning (DAR):  4.0
  • Spelling (DAR):  4.0


My student has been attending classes 2-3 times per week since mid-September. A posttest showed no change, so I decided to consult the ARCS profiles for some guidance.  

 ARCS Information and Further Assessment

I entered the above scores into Match a Profile” in the ARCS website.  His result matched Profile 6: Low Even Skills.  Several strategies are recommended under “Suggestions for Instruction.”

For Word Recognition/Phonological Awareness, an additional assessment was used to determine any gaps (unmastered phonics elements).  I used the “Phonemic Awareness Assessment” (LDA of Minnesota) and a basic phonics assessment from an old textbook, New Beginnings in Reading (Contemporary). My student aced both tests.  

I also administered the RAN test to check for signs of dyslexia (since I had wondered about that possibility).  He did this quickly and perfectly. 

Moving on to Spelling, four questions are posed to determine prerequisite skills for accurate spelling.  My student shows mastery in automatically sounding out words with short or long vowels (including nonsense words), but when the words are longer (multi-syllabic), he struggles.  This was apparent in the timed oral reading as well.  He needs work on word “segmentation and chunking” as suggested.  The ARCS research also notes that, “The better a reader can decode even unfamiliar words in isolation, the better he or she can read connected text.”  

In the Word Meaning (vocabulary) area, it’s interesting that my student recognizes more words (8.1) than he can orally define (DAR Word Meaning, 4.0).  The research notes that within this Profile 6 “…some native speakers of English also score as low as GE 2 on the Word Meaning subtest…and the average Word Meaning GE for native speakers is only 4.6.”  This information affirms that though this rate is low, it is normal for this level.  The research goes on to say that even when students “…become able to read text at a higher level, we cannot trust most of their vocabulary learning to figure out word meaning from context....Teaching new concepts and information will automatically involve teaching unfamiliar words.  When appropriate, use these vocabulary words for spelling and word recognition instruction.”  Finally, there was a suggestion to help me determine my “learner’s comprehension potential when his oral reading accuracy is low.” (My student’s score is 90 wpm; profile average is 133.) 

Give a listening comprehension test -- Listening Comprehension Assessment:  A teacher can assess a learner's listening comprehension by reading aloud passages from graded books or from silent reading comprehension tests that offer grade equivalence (GE) scores. The learner answers comprehension questions orally. Listening comprehension tests are often teacher-constructed, informal reading assessments.” 

I am still working on this one!


The other huge factor affecting my student’s learning is his self-reported ADD.  We reviewed several coping strategies including “chunking” the work, varying the type of work (computer, paper work, and review with teacher), taking short breaks, identifying key distracters, and multi-sensory processing. 

Cathy Smyers, Missoula


After you read through the posted Case Study, do you have any suggestions for strategies or materials that CS could try?  This is way you can all help each other.  Just click here and email your thoughts to MT LINCS.    


Response Another Use for MT LINCS

This is a terrific idea!  What a way for Montana ABLE colleagues to help each other out!  I would be more than happy to post any "Case Studies" that you send.  Again they will be anonymous.  NP =)  


Another Use for MT LINCS

Here is an idea for how we can share info via LINCS:   How about a monthly "case study" where teachers (anonymously) submit a brief description of a student (again anonymously) whom they need assistance with in determining a learning plan, figuring out a disability, etc... I know I could use ideas with some of my challenging students!  We would simply send our thoughts to MT LINCS and have them posted.  We then could also share resources or materials we've developed which might be useful.  Montana ABLE Participant



Response to TAAS Question

Go to the Academic Therapy website at .  In the left-hand column, key in TAAS in the search box and click Go.  NP =)



You mentioned the TAAS (Test of Auditory Analysis Skills).  Where can we get it?  Montana ABLE Participant


Response to Phonemics Testing

In regards to Phonemic Awarness, you are correct that most of the assessments are done on youth. I remember that Louisa Moat had researched the importance to stress phonemic awareness and phonics which are linked to speech sound (auditory and oral) to written and reading difficulties.  I would suggest to contact MT OPI Reading First and asked if they have an adult assessment to use or at least give you a contact number or email to Moat.

Montana ABLE Participant


Response to Comment about  Discovering Intensive Phonics

The Discover Intensive Phonics program has a phonemic awareness supplement (elementary version) in the direct instruction and a minimal assessment on the skills taught in the supplement.  There are several activities listed in the Sound Essentials (games & activities) that deal with phonemics.  The DIP software has a phonemic awareness component that teaches skills in phoneme isolation, manipulation of phonemes, syllable recognition, rhyme, and oral segmentation.  There is an assessment on the software for those phonemic skills as well.  It is separate from the Interim Assessments (which are phonic-skill based).

The DIP program is primarily structured around the explicit and sequential instruction of phonics.  However, the specific skills for phonemic awareness are so important, that is why the supplement in the direct instruction materials and software are now included in the program.  I hope this answered your question.  If not, feel free to email back or call me.

Joan Parrish

HEC Reading Horizons / Finger Works  Publications

Distributor & Trainer


Phonemics Activity

Click here for Phonograph Activity.


Phonemics Assessment

I've attached an article and assessment for adult phonemic awareness and was wondering if anyone knows anything about it or has used it ...
I have used the TAAS, but that doesn't assess all the pieces of phonemics.  I seldom need to test phonemics so haven't been too concerned about it up until now, but I think we do need something that's adult oriented. So many of the assessments are for children.  Another reason to test phonemics came out of Sue Barton's overview of dyslexia (she was in Missoula three weeks ago).  She maintains that dyslexics need intensive phonemic instruction (and, of course, she has a product/methodology to sell which I suspect is similar to Wilson).  Also, I learned that Discovering Intensive Phonics really doesn't assess or teach phonemics per se (although it does a good job with phonics).

Anyway, I'd appreciate any feedback on this ... Maybe someone else out there has used this assessment or has something better.

Cathy Smyers, Missoula

Reading:  Phonemic Awareness

Click here for the article, Reading:  Phonemic Awareness,  from the Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota website.

Thanks, CS, for sharing your googling expertise! =)