Category Archives: > Writing Skills

+ Central Ohio Free Parent Seminar on Writing Problems

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Marburn Academy in Columbus is inviting parents to a free seminar on “Getting It Down On Paper: The Solutions to Student Writing Problems.”

  • Date: Tuesday March 6
  • Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Marburn Academy: 1860 Walden Dr, Columbus OH 43229
  • Reservations required:
  • Or phone 614-433-0822

Often students with learning differences have no trouble coming up with creative ideas, but they may struggle with expressing those ideas in writing.

Parents of children who wrestle with writing will find that this seminar offers  insight into the reasons why some children learn to write easily and others don’t.  They will be hearing about practical answers for remediation.

Earl Oremus, Headmaster of Marburn Academy, is a nationally recognized speaker on education, learning and learning differences. 

Oremus will explain why some children learn differently, why it is so important for teaching methods to match each child’s learning needs, and what works best when writing is being taught.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ Read and Write Side by Side With Your Child

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Rebecca Alber blogs at the edutopia site, and says students need to know that we also struggle with writing. 

She is writing for teachers.  But parents should model reading and writing as well.

So — as your children work on their own reading or writing, let them see you writing — so they can see that you, too, “get tongue-tied and run out of things to say.” 

Share with them the knowledge that you repeat yourself too.  You  forget words even though we’ve used them in the past.  You change your mind halfway through  a page and want to start over with a new topic.  

Your child needs to know that writing isn’t always easy for you — just as it isn’t easy for them.

And Albers says modeling reading is just as important.  It sends this message:

I like to read.  I don’t just tell you this and [monitor] how much you read.  I read side by side with you.  You see my facial expressions as I struggle to understand something difficult and you see when I feel emotion at a sad or funny part.  I am a reader, too.

This modeling for young people of your love — and struggles — as a reader and writer can help them understand that even for an adult who reads and writes all day, these task continue to be challenging.  

But you can show them that you find reward and delight in the process.  As they will, too. 

For Alber’s post, and much more at the site, visit

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Central Ohio Dyslexia Conference March 2 in Dublin

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REGISTER EARLY for Central Ohio IDA Conference

COBIDA Annual Spring Conference
Friday March 2
OCLC Conference Center, 6600 Kilgour Place, Dublin OH 43017.

(Members $85 until February 20.) Non-members welcome. Information and registration at

PARENT TRACK: Expert Panel on Advocacy Matters: Learning How to Become Your Child’s Strongest Advocate.

PROFESSIONAL TRACK: Writing Matters: Developing Writing Skills in Students Who Struggle. William Van Cleve MA

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email

+ Writing Exercise

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From The Writers Almanac, a bonus.

Favorite Writing Exercise:  “I like to read a poem to my students (one easy to take in by ear, one that I think is rich with possibility, one not too long but long enough for everyone to find a word or phrase or something that catches imagination) and I tell them to jot down something from or about the poem. After that, we write for ten minutes or so and see what happens.”

– Joyce Sutphen

tutoring in columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ COBIDA Offers Webinars August 9 and 11, 2011

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Project Read Webinars – Learn at Your Computer
Written Expression (Framing Your Thoughts) – August 9, 6 – 8 PM EST
Reading Comprehension – August 11, 6 – 8 PM EST
$35 per webinar ($25 for IDA members)
Register online now at:
For more information contact:
Hope to see you on-line!
Full courses will be offered in the fall if interest dictates.
If you are interested in a full-course, please let us know after you have done this initial webinar.
tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ POEM “To a Young Son”

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[I never do this, but today Writers Almanac offered a poem that made me want to keep it .] 

To a Young Son

by June Robertson Beisch

<!– (from Fatherless Woman) –>

Today I passed your room
and you were slowly quietly
combing your hair.
It was a pleasant, calm moment.
I felt the silence of the room
and could almost hear you growing.
You combed without a mirror,
your eyes distant and pale,
your head slowly nodding
like the head of a stroked animal.

Xerxes the King sent out a spy
who returned to camp, astonished to say
that the Spartans were all stripped to the waist
their bodies gleaming in the Aegean sun
and they were all carefully combing their hair.
The king was afraid then.
The Spartans were preparing to die.

I turn slowly from your doorway
and return to the linen closet where I
will fold this memory in my heart
among everything that is clean and fresh and white.

“To a Young Son” by June Beisch, from Fatherless Woman. © Cape Cod Literary Press, 2004. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Find Writers Almanac at

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email

+ Teaching Phonics: Some Terminology

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At a COBIDA conference this weekend, I found Isabel L. Beck’sMaking Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys.”

The introductory chapter provides an explanation of some terms.

  • Decoding:  using the letters on a page to retrieve the sounds associated with those letters
  • Word recognition, sight word recognition:  decoding by applying  letter-sound knowledge immediately, without any apparent  attention.  Also called automaticity.
  • Word attack:  decoding by the conscious and deliberate application of letter-sound knowledge to produce a plausible pronunciation of a word.  Self-aware “figuring-out” of a word.
  • Encoding:  sometimes called spelling, encoding is the opposite of decoding.  It involves the application of letter-sound relationships to identify which letters will be needed to create a specific written word.
  • Alphabetic principle:  the ground rule that written words are composed of letters, and those letters correspond to segments of written words.  In this alphabetic language, a letter (grapheme) is associated with a unit of speech (phoneme). 
  • Grapheme:  a letter associated with a unit of speech; the smallest written representation of speech sounds.  For example, in the word “mop” (the m , the o  and the p ).  Or the three representations in the word “chain” (ch and ai  and n.)
  • Phoneme:  A unit of speech; the smallest speech sound into which a spoken word can be divided.  For example, the sound /m/in the word “mop.”
  • Great Debate:  a term coined by Jeanne Chall in 1967 to describe the argument in the reading world about whether to teach beginning readers with a code-oriented approach (these days associated with phonics) or a meaning-oriented (often referred to as “whole language”)  approach .Also called “the reading wars.”
  • Explicit, systematic phonics:  the instructional strategy by which the relationship between letters and sounds are directly  (explicitly) taught in a pre-established (systematic) sequence.  In most reading programs (but not all) the consonants and short vowels are presented before long vowels, vowel teams and r-controlled vowels.
  • Orthography:  a language’s writing (spelling) system.
  • Orthographic knowledge:  what an individual knows about the writing system of a language.
  • Invented spelling:  children’s initial attempts to represent oral language, such as CU for “see you” or bak for “back.”
  • Consonants:  the English letters whose sounds are produced in the mouth and throat by blocking or controlling the air in some way; they may be voiced or unvoiced.   
  • Consonant blend (or clusters):  two or three contiguous consonant letters in which each letter maintains its sound (the b and r in “brush”).
  • Consonant digraph:  contiguous consonants in which the letters do not maintain their sounds  ( sh in “ship”) but produce a unique sound.
  • Vowel:  in English, the vowels are a ;  e ;  i ;  o ;  u ;  and sometimes y  (as in “my).  They are letters whose sounds are always unblocked and voiced.
  • Short vowel:  the sound of a vowel in a “closed” (CVC)syllable: the sound of o  in the word “hot,” for example.
  • Long vowel:  the sound of a vowel when it “says its name.”  For example, the sound of o in the word “no” or “note.”
  • Vowel digraphs or “teams”:  two contiguous vowels in which they stand for a long vowel sound (ai  in “sail,” for example) or a sliding vowel sound ( ou  as in “out,” for example).  The spelling for a “sliding” vowel sound is sometimes referred to as a …
  • Diphthong:  the vowel digraph representing a sliding sound (the ou  in “out,” or the  oi   in “join”). In a sliding vowel sound, the speech sound begins with one vowel sound and moves to another.
  • R-controlled vowel:  a vowel followed by r  no longer has its short sound.  Notice that the sound of  a  in “car” is not the sound of   a  in “cat.”
  • Grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) correspondences:  expression used to name the correspondence between a grapheme and a phoneme.  How letters map onto the sounds of a word, and vice versa.
  • Spelling-sound relationships:  the concept that a reader knows to use various sub-word units which are often beyond the grapheme-phoneme relationship, such as ous   or    tion    in “nervous” or “action.”
  • Phonological awareness:  an umbrella term for a person’s ability to understand spoken words, or recognize rhymes, or to identify that “at” and “it” are different or to notice different words in a spoken list (“cat,” “mat,” “fat” for example).
  • Phonemic awareness:  an understanding of the individual phonemes in a word (for example that “ran” and “rain” both have three sounds.


  • The Alphabetic Principle and Phonics
  • Letter-Sound Instruction
  • Blending
  • Word Building
  • Multisyllabic Words
  • Epilogue  


  • CVC Pattern
  • Long Vowels of the CVCe Pattern
  • Long Vowel Digraph Patterns 
  • rControlled Digraph Patterns 
  • Word and Syllable Matrices for Syllasearch
  • The Word Pocket

There are also References, and an Index.

The definitions above are from the “Introduction” chapter of Isabel L. Beck’s book, “Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys,” published by Guilford Press (   134 pages. ISBN 1-59385-257-6 (paper).

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email