By Holly A. Shapiro, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
It was time to pay attention to the words I was teaching. I was carefully curating lists of words so students could practice the phonics rules I was teaching them. I was getting tired of dredging up the same words over and over: cactus, picnic, dentist, locate, remote, Chippendale, badminton, and fig.
In 2003, Sally Shaywitz’s book Overcoming Dyslexia came out. I got my hands on it as soon as I could and read it right away. The book covered a lot of ground, but what I couldn’t get out of my head was one of her conclusions regarding fluency. Students acquire fluency “word by word,” she said. There were a lot of words I was sweeping under the carpet.
About a year later, I read a study published in Annals of Dyslexia entitled, “Training reading fluency in dysfluent readers with high reading accuracy: Word specific effects but low transfer to untrained words.”
The investigators found that a “remarkable” amount of repetitions on trained words with certain consonant clusters did not generalize to untrained words with the same consonant clusters.
I had to liberate myself. Glad I did.