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on August 25, 2011
This review is from: Phonics Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling (Paperback)
Reading Pathways: Simple Exercises to Improve Reading Fluency"

Many years ago I tried Phonics Pathways with my three-year old and in very short order he was reading EVERYTHING! At 12 years old, his literary world is expansive, reading some college level material, simply because he has been able to read and comprehend so many types of genres for many years. And he enjoys reading!

Then I tried Phonics Pathways with our 13 year old who has Down syndrome. He is currently reading whole sentences, three-syllable words with three consonant blends, all phonetically. If he attempts to guess the word which he sometimes does, I gently guide him back to sounding it out and give him a simple definition of what the word means. He now chooses books and reads them independently. Because of his success, I am teaching another teen with Down syndrome (also English is her second language) how to read as well.

This summer was a dream come true for me: I was asked to teach 16 typical four to eight-year-old boys and girls, and their progress was amazing! I used Phonics Pathways and Pyramid.

Recently I was asked to work with a 69 year old who has great difficulty reading her entire life. After working with her, I saw that she guessed words,and her eyes had a hard time reading from left to right. My student has since become a very dear and precious friend to me; and she reads everything she gets her hands on. She has completed several books already, for the first time in her life.

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on July 10, 2013
Perhaps Phonics Pathways is suitable for some learning environments and educators, but I personally do not care for this manual. Initially, I disliked it for the busy style of the text. The information is presented with all sorts of font variations, pictures, quotes, asides, and quips--most of which is presided over by Dewey the Bookworm. There is very little white space on any page. It is packed with images and text.

If that's what you like, then you'll probably very much enjoy the book. That's just not my personal aesthetic taste. All that hustle-and-bustle, to me, is distracting and, quite frankly, irritating.

Despite my initial displeasure with the style of the book, I proceeded to use it because it came so highly recommended and reviewed. As I used the book, I began to realize that a portion of the most useful information was buried in the jumble of the page--that is, the phonics rules are lost in the mess. There is no visually consistent presentation of the rules (e.g., all the rules in a text box in the upper right corner of the page). None of the rules are visually differentiated from the surrounding babble. One rule might come from Dewey the Bookworm, another rule from a cat, and yet another listed amongst a full page of text with absolutely no indication of any sort that what you're reading is a rule.

So what's the big deal about the rules? Rules are the point.

Rules are the point of teaching phonics. If I didn't care about the rules, I would just teach my children to sight read. I not only want them to read fluently, I want them to have a good handle on the basic rules of phonics so they can spell fluently and therefore write fluently.

Phonics Pathways does contain rules of phonics. But the presentation is so jumbled and fumbled that the rules are not easily accessible and, in my opinion, this creates an unfriendly experience for parents/teachers. It is frustrating and consumes unnecessary quantities of time to have to dig through the busyness of the text to find these most important rules.

By the way, there is an index to spelling rules in PP. It is on page 244 in my 10th edition. Unfortunately, it is jumbled just like the rest of the book. When you are in the middle of a lesson with your 5-yr-old and he asks a question about a previously learned rule--good luck finding it in a timely manner using the index.

As stated initially, perhaps PP is appropriate for certain learning environments and educators. Maybe the book makes a good tool for someone who's got a background and training in early childhood language development. But for the rest of us, I would not recommend it.
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on May 7, 2011
I highly recommend Phonics Pathways as a well organized, systematic outline for the teaching of phonics rules to children. This is NOT a work book full of "circle the word" or "fill in the blank" exercises like so many others on the market. Phonics Pathways is a thorough guide to sounding out words that you and your child can sit down and use together. The type is large and attractive to children and each page presents just enough new information to be used for one day's lesson.

The major emphasis is on letter sounds and lists of words, not unlike our founding fathers would have used. The book starts out with letter sounds, then progresses to lists of 3-letter words like "bet, met, get, pet." Soon the lessons progress to sentences made up of the words that have been learned: "Jan sits and sips pop."

This is NOT a story book, but rather a collection of word lists and sentences. You may wish to supplement with "An Ant - Learn to Read" by Kallie Woods, which teaches letter sounds and words in the context of fun illustrated stories. Stories may not be necessary to teach a child to read, but they do add an undeniable "fun factor" and perhaps provide motivation to learn more.
An Ant - Learn to Read, Book 1, Home School Version
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on July 15, 2011
I just finished the delightful task of carefully examining every page in the new 10th edition of Phonics Pathways Mrs. Hisks send me to review. In my estimation, the best just got better. I don't know how Mrs. Hisks does it. Everything is highly refined. The addition of the so called nonsense words to test the students true phonics skills is an excellent idea. They will show whether or not the students are learning to read accurately "from the sounds" rather just than "guessing from the meaning." I love the addition of pictures for all the sounds. The information on polysyllables is very well done and most welcome. Mrs. Hiskes eye for developing fluency is everywhere evident.

I should mentioned that I have taught Phonics Pathways (editions 7, 8, & 9) since 2002, when I used it to teach a fourth grade boy who no one had been able to teach to read. I have used it with many similar cases since with equal success. There is no more complete or powerful phonics reading program available anywhere at any price.

Parents and teachers who purchase Phonics Pathways will also want to get a copy of the accompany book, Phonics Pathways Boosters! It is a welcome addition to her phonics materials - in a most convenient tear-out book format. The Sound-Spelling Flashcards are the "best in the business." Teachers will find the games perfect for setting up "centers" in the classroom for varying the learning experience and deepening the mastery. In an age when few received much phonics training, the audio cd will prove invaluable. Don Potter
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on November 9, 2014
This book is good, but I knocked off one star because it is a very busy book. I saw another reviewer mentioned this, how it is busy and distracting, and I agree. But I guess that depends on your and your child's style and it may not bother most people, but I like things simple. I knocked off one more star because I believe the information presented at the beginning about Dyslexia is misleading. I used this book for an entire year with my son, who was a struggling reader from the start, and after a year, we had not even made it halfway through the book and he was still at the same grade level for reading that he was at when we started. Basically, it had been a waste of a year and there was no progress. I do not blame the book for this, however. I think it is a good book for non-dyslexic kids. I had wondered the whole time how this book was not working for my son, when it claimed it could even reverse dyslexia (as many phonics programs falsely claim), something I did not even believe my son had. Well, it turns out that he does have dyslexia and I have since found out that NO phonics program will help a dyslexic child learn to read. I repeat, NO phonics program, no matter how they try to explain dyslexia and it's cause, will help your child. The reason is simple, dyslexic children do NOT have phonemic awareness, so they are not ready for phonics. I had always found it curious that my son had difficulty clapping syllables and picking out rhyming words. Well, those are two essential skills for reading, but there are more and dyslexic children need to learn these skills first, they need a multisensory way to learn to decode words. Dyslexia is NOT a vision problem. I repeat, dyslexia is NOT a vision problem. Eye tracking, eye exercises, etc. will NOT help with dyslexia. It is a genetic neurological language processing problem, that affects MANY different areas of life, not just with reading, but also with spelling, rote memorization, sequencing, to name a few things. Please, if your child is having trouble with reading and spelling, do some research and see if your child fits the description of dyslexia. It runs in families, with the parent passing it on to one or more of their children. Many adults went undiagnosed and don't even know they have it. Trust your gut. If you suspect your child may be dyslexic, DON'T waste a year trying to teach them phonics and spelling rules that they are not yet ready for and that are not being taught the way they need it taught. Orton-Gillingham tutoring is the ONLY research and scientifically proven method to re-mediate dyslexia. Don't waste your time with anything else, like I did. This is a good book, but it is NOT for dyslexic kids, nor are any of the other phonics programs out there.
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VINE VOICEon January 7, 2014
As a retired educator who is now doing some volunteer tutoring outside of my field, I found this book to be very helpful. I would think this book could be used as a teacher training textbook, a parent home schooling guide, and as a volunteer aid. The strategies are clearly presented and explained, and the accompanying "Boosters" book provides all the manipulatives needed to conduct solid reading lessons.
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on November 25, 2015
I'm a special education teacher (resource) and I love this book! My aids and I use it on a daily basis, along with the "feedback loop" strategy (search on youtube "Strategy for Teaching students with processing disorders How to Read). My students that had a hard time spelling, understanding sounds and were failing, are now able to decode, and are passing with 90% or higher. This book provides a great progression on how to teach kids to read.
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on November 19, 2015
My son was having difficulties reading and I went through "100 Lessons to Teach Your Child How to Read" which worked to some extent. He didn't start excelling until I bought this book. I have noticed a huge difference. I really like the added games and the ease of using this book. The other book we use to use had so many instructions to read. This book just flows a lot nicer.
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on December 17, 2013
This is a great phonics curriculum. I like the order in which everything was taught, starting with short vowels, consonant/short vowels, consonant/short vowel words, etc. A perfect supplement to this is BOB books. The book is ageless. You can teach anyone to read with it. We often go back to it when we need review. It's a keeper.
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on May 23, 2016
My son and I have been using this book for the current academic school year and we both really like it. His reading has soared over the year and it's been amazing to watch. I like that this book is self-paced. Meaning we can choose to do as much or as little as we want in one sitting. It's divided by topics, not by chapters or lessons. My son loves the funny little sayings and quotes. I also find the font to be very pleasing to the eyes.
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