Connect it, Map it, Blend it, Consolidate with Play
Picture this- you have been entrusted to move a group of 20 to 30 children forward in their ability to read words and access literacy. Keep in mind that each child enters the room with different lived experiences, different understandings of words, different experiences with language and different learning styles. Big job, hey?! How do you effectively find a way to give each child in this group an entry point to developing their relationship with written words? Enter Eyewords.
This program has the diversity to help a beginning reader understand the meaning and the visual organization of words but it also is designed to provide a predictable structure that growing readers can use to expand their sight word bank and their understanding of the way words are composed. Using the universal language of play to consolidate their knowledge is the cherry on top that makes Eyewords an effective and engaging way to meet all learners where they are at. Let’s consider the components of the program and how they work together.
Eyewords Multisensory Sight Words combine the four powerhouses of:
1) multisensory-contextual cues
2) orthographic mapping
3) sound blending
4) active play
Together, these conditions lead to accelerated sight word recognition of the high frequency words. Eyewords science-based method and resources are proven highly effective through published, quantitative research conducted by a team from Stanford University.
To see the full study first hand, visit the academic journal Learning and Instruction, Volume 65.
The Importance of Learning to Sight Read the High Frequency Words
High frequency words are words that appear most often in print. They are the first words we want to anchor into a student’s memory because they appear so frequently in texts. The ability to automatically retrieve or “sight read” these words allow learners to read more fluently and with greater comprehension.
Most high frequency words are abstract and hard to contextualize, or understand their meaning. They have little meaning on their own but contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence. Words that have a rather abstract meaning are hard to explain to a learner. It's much easier to develop meaning for words like "cat" and "house" because they can be related to real objects or pictures, but it is difficult to conjure up a mental image for words like “the” and “said”.
You have heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, with Eyewords, we want a picture to be worth one special sight word. By embedding visual-contextual images, as well as providing related auditory phrases and corresponding kinesthetic actions, Eyewords creates context for abstract high frequency words. The engagement of multiple modalities make words meaningful for learners. In addition, when material is presented in a way that engages multiple senses, the information becomes richer and those learning it become more motivated to participate actively in the learning.
Cognitive neuroscience confirms that brain neurons that fire together, wire together. Therefore, when we teach using multiple senses simultaneously, neurons in the brain fire at the same time and wire together to create neural networks. These neural networks naturally integrate information to form a clear mental picture, as well as allow the brain to store and retrieve information more efficiently than with unisensory learning. In short, by providing a variety of ways to connect with the word and its meaning, people begin to build an understanding of the word that they can then apply in other situations.
Orthographic mapping enables learners to connect something new with something they already know. The learner already knows what the word means and uses the multisensory strategies they have through Eyewords to interact with the word, but the orthographic mapping becomes the “why” behind using those letters with those sounds. By listening and speaking students have learned word pronunciation and through the multisensory-contextual component of Eyewords, they have learned meaning and context for abstract words. These elements are stored in a learner’s long term memory.
So here is how it all comes together- students use the oral language processing part of their brain to map (connect) the sounds of words they already have acquired language and meaning for. The sounds in a word (phonemes) are connected to the letter sequence of the word (the spelling). Learners then permanently store the connected sounds and letters of words (along with their known meaning) as instantly recognizable words (sight words).
Next, the goal becomes to be able to blend those sounds back together. If a learner knows the pronunciation and meaning for the word /a/n/d/ and has good phonemic awareness skills, they can pull the word apart (segment) into its individual sounds (phonemes) /a/ /n/ /d/. Those sounds become the anchoring points for the word’s printed sequence. The student can then pull the sounds together (blend) to form the whole word.The Role of Play
In the famous words of the memorable Fred Rogers, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they learn”. When children engage in play, their attention and learning retention is high. Each Eyewords™ Multisensory-contextual/Orthographic Teaching Card Set includes its own series of play-based reading games and activities designed to help consolidate sight word reading of the high frequency words quickly, efficiently and in a fun and engaging way. Learners activate all modalities through experiences of touching, moving, seeing and hearing. All activities are designed to support self-regulation, motivation, social engagement and mental systems such as attention, perception and memory.
And this is the magic of Eyewords. Evidence-based learning that delivers.