Phonics Coach

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What is Phonics Coach?
Phonics Coach is a web-based literacy training program which drastically improves reading and spelling skills in students of all ages. We use customized interactive exercises and modules that are tailored to each student’s individual learning needs.

While using Phonics Coach students will experience a drastic improvement in their reading speed, reading comprehension, spelling ability, auditory comprehension, and concentration. This will directly translate into a more confident, motivated, and prepared student, and of course, better grades in school.

Who can benefit from Phonics Coach?

Phonics Coach was designed for those children, ages 8-18, who have trouble reading and spelling. This site can help everyone from students with diagnosed learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia) to students who area simply slow readers (e.g. cannot keep up with their classmates and/or have trouble with homework).

Although Phonics Coach was originally designed for youth we have had users as old as 67 who have experienced great results from the program. Adults with learning disabilities, or anyone who struggles with the basics of reading and spelling english (e.g. ESL) will benefit greatly from this site.

How do I know if my child or student can benefit from the program?
If you have observed your child/ student struggling to read or spell, or have been so informed by an education professional (or even by the child her/himself), then Phonics Coach is for you. If you are still unsure, we have compiled a list below of some traits that are commonly observed in students that suffer from learning disabilities. If one or more of these traits applies to your child or student, she or he may have a reading disability.

My child/ student:

has trouble recalling details about what she/he has just read
gets hung up on individual words when reading
has difficulty with auditory discrimination
has trouble following directions
does not entirely complete activities or assignments
skips over words when reading
reads at a slow pace
has to re-read sentences to understand them
has trouble remembering what was just heard or seen
continues to make the same errors (even when corrected)
has trouble concentrating, sitting or standing still
is easily distracted or simply cannot focus
struggles to complete homework/ schoolwork
acts immature for his/her age
is at times overly aggressive

Note: This is not in any way an official diagnosis of a learning disability, but rather a list of common traits seen in those that have been officially diagnosed. For an official diagnosis, it is important to consult professionals/ specialists in the field; talk to teachers at your child’s school for more information.

I’m a parent. Do I need to be there with my child while she/he is using the program?
No; it is not necessary for you to accompany the child while he is using Phonics Coach. The program was designed so that children as young as 8 can use the software independently.

However, many parents find it fun to be there with their child as they go through the exercises. Also, parents often have babysitters use Phonics Coach with their child as an alternative to watching TV. Adding a human element is always a positive experience which may help motivate the child in the early stages of the program, but it is not essential.

How many lessons are there?
The simple answer is: As many as you need.

Lessons are not predetermined. They are built for the individual from the curriculum. This approach allows Phonics Coach to address the needs of each student separately.

How is Phonics Coach different than other educational software on the market?
There are two major problems with other software and games that are out on the market:
They do not have the ability to find the specific problem(s) that are causing the student frustration when reading and spelling, and
They do not have the ability to tailor a lesson plan that will correct these problems.
Other educational software and games are static – they do not have the ability adapt to the student. All lessons on these programs are pre-set; and does not have the capability to customize lesson plans for each student. These programs may be fun for a while, but they cannot actually solve the core problems that are holding back the student.

The Phonics Coach program is state-of-the-art. It took over four years to develop this revolutionary program that is unlike anything else out there. We came up with the name Phonics ‘Coach’ because the program truly acts like a personal coach for the student. It first surveys the student’s current abilities, discovering everything it can about the his/her language skills while keeping track of all the problem areas. Then Phonics Coach creates a customized lesson plan, unique for each student, that focuses on correcting these problems. Unlike many teaching tools out there, our program is constantly monitoring the child’s progress every step of the way, continuously providing the perfect customized lesson plan for each child.

With Phonics Coach, the parent, tutor, or teacher also can view their student’s progress reports online at any time they wish.

Every learner has unique needs; we recognize this. That’s the Phonics Coach difference.

I am a teacher. Can I use Phonics Coach in my classroom?
Absolutely. If you are a teacher, tutor, or education professional and would like to use Phonics Coach in a classroom setting, we can accommodate your every need. Phonic Coach was designed “student friendly,” meaning that students are able to operate the program independently with minimal computer knowledge and do not require a teacher by their side. By signing up for a classroom (or school) account, you get:
a user manual designed specifically for teachers;
an all inclusive homepage for each classroom and student (where all the student data is stored);
a custom CD-ROM for each student that connects them directly to the module (no need for usernames and password);
the ability to automatically generate aggregate and individual progress reports;
the ability to adjust individual student settings or entire classroom settings with just a few clicks;
Phonics Coach is the perfect program to supplement your current curriculum. We have special classroom subscription and licensing rates that can be tailored to fit your school’s budget. Please contact us for more information!
How does the Free Trial Membership work?
The free trial membership allows you to "test-drive" Phonics Coach free of charge for 7-days. Take advantage of this time to try out the system. When your trial period expires you will be prompted to register for a full membership.
How much does this cost?
Phonics Coach is a subscription service and we generally charge a monthly fee. However, our mission isn't to help ourselves, our mission is to help you guys. We want to make Phonics Coach available to everyone that needs it. So we created a bursary program to subsidize some of the costs for individuals and families that cannot afford the full subscription rate. For more information, please contact us.

Student membership: $45/month Canadian Funds
Family membership: $22/month Canadian Funds for each student
School memberships are also available with flexable billing options. Schools may be billed as individuals, as a group, at a flat rate or on a per student basis. Please contact a Phonics Coach representative for more information.

What is wrong with all the 'game-based' learning software on the market?
In short, game based learning programs can hinder real learning. There was much research and debate over the issue of how to format this application. The resulting decision was to generate a functional learning tool with a platform of soft colors that would keep students relaxed and focused. Phonics Coach is not game-based (but this doesn't mean that it's not fun!!).

Here are some of the reasons for our decision:

1) Games that deal with intellectual material often distort the information so as to fit the rules of the game. The effect is a misinformed student building a false foundation in literacy. It is detrimental to build a false foundation in language.

2) Graphics and cartoon images distract youngsters from the material or insult the older student's intellect.

3) Illustrations, such as the word "dog" with a picture of a dog, are not helpful even if the definition is in question. The images we need to deal with are letters and words.
4) Games cause students to focus on just that, the game aspect of the program. They get distracted from the real-learning process and often try to find loopholes in the learning/ system to "win" at the game.

Our Mission...
It is the belief of Phonic Coach Inc. that reading/ literacy education and related resources should be accessible and affordable to anyone, at any age. Thanks to the Internet, we are able to provide the highest standard of material without the expense of private educational institutions.
Phonics Coach was founded to provide excellent individual literacy training to students of all ages and those with special needs. Through custom-tailored lessons we hope to create a learning system that will enable students to meet and exceed their literacy goals.

Our Philosophy...
Our philosophy is simple. People learn language by using it, so one has them using it as soon as possible. Reading is one skill that everyone will need, no matter what one chooses to do in life. It is our belief that an underdeveloped reader will never be able to truly reach their lifes full potential.

Commonly, teachers are unable to fully ensure that learning disabled students are fluent in the basics of the English language before moving on to more complex curriculums. This causes more students than ever before to fall behind in school and fail to learn in general. Imagine teaching someone calculus who doesn't fully understand the basics of addition - impossible. Yet it happens all the time in literacy. By teaching phonics and syllables, we give students the information needed to build a solid foundation for learning language. We start at the base of the English language - phonics - and carefully structure the sequence of learning making sure that we cover everything along the way.

After the basic skills are in place, students can focus on sentence structure, punctuation, and writing style - all of which will be evident in their written work.

All exercises and modules in this program are based on the student's individual abilities and growth. Your student will never fall behind, and will never feel overwhelmed. The root of most language difficulties stems from trouble with the basics. Mastering phonics and syllabication will lead to better reading and spelling skills, allowing individual learners to become the best they can be in life and to achieve greatness in whatever they choose to do.

We want to see you flourish in life. Send us your success stories - we'd love to read them.

Do I still need to keep my current tutor?
The best way to correct a learning disability is by attacking it from as many angles as possible. Phonics Coach is a proven program to significantly improve the reading and spelling abilities in frustrated readers; but (if you can afford it), having a private tutor as well will greatly enhance the learning process and may speed up the results of the program. Bluntly speaking, the more a student exposes him/herself to corrective exercises, instruction, and even just general reading, the better that student will be prepared for a life of reading ahead.

There have been several studies conducted that link one's reading abilities to success in life (in terms of career, salary, and overall happiness). The more you can do to correct a reading problem early on in life, the better.

We do understand that many tutors, learning centers, and programs are very expensive, and their costs can add up. We at Phonics Coach strongly believe that money should not determine whether a child or adult has access to the learning resources that they need. If the monthly subscription fee is preventing you from partaking in the Phonics Coach program, please contact us about our Bursary Program to help subsidize some of the costs.

What is phonics?
Phonics, basically put, is the correlation between symbol and sound. We familiarize students with 147 commonly found letter groupings at a rate controlled by individual performance.

Phonics and syllables combine to make the reading and spelling words easy.

What are syllables?
Syllabication is the breaking up of words into smaller pieces.

We introduce the six kinds of syllables and use special spelling exercises to implement them in the breakdown of words.

Phonics and syllabication combine to make the reading and spelling of words easy.

A Phonics Coach Lesson...
Rather than read all this, you should sign up for a free trial account.

Reviewing Known Phonics

Once the course gets underway, each lesson starts out with a review of some known phonic items. By reviewing this letter/sound information each day, students build a solid foundation for reading and spelling words.
Priority is given to letters and sounds your student finds most difficult, as part of our Rapid Readiness program.

Reviewing Known Syllables
All the different types of syllables that your student has been taught will be reviewed in each lesson.

Covering New Material
New material usually falls under one of two categories. We will teach you either; more phonics, or a new kind of syllable.

Each student moves through the course at their own pace. New material is presented when past material has been mastered. The flow of new material is controlled separately for each student by our Rapid Readiness program.

Spelling Exercises
These exercises encourage students to apply their knowledge of phonics and syllables.

Spelling words are chosen based on each student's strengths and weaknesses. The words we select will help your student master past material so that they will be ready to move on to new material as soon as possible. This method is both effective and efficient. (Part of our Rapid Readiness method.)

Spelling exercises are also one of the tools we use to assess problem areas and plan future lessons.

A brief history...
The curriculum is derived mainly from a very successful method used at The Gow School. A small private school catering to students with language difficulties, Gow has boasted a 100% college and/or university acceptance record for over 70 years.

Tarek, our staff professor and designer of this course, was a student at Gow for six years and later returned as an instructor. He has also studied Orton-Gillingham, Reconstructive Language and Fluent Reading as a professional tutor.

Tarek's goal in designing this course was to discard all the "hocus-pocus and busy work" to use only the most effective and results-orientated aspects of each method he studied.

After years in development, the Phonics Community has a highly effective language training product to be implemented over the Internet. Our application takes the challenge out of reading and spelling the individual word, thus enabling students to focus on the content of the material they read and the style in which it is written.

For best results...
Make Phonics Coach part of your daily routine. For the first month, try to do five lessons a week. Start at the same time each day, and do one lesson, followed by reading or writing. To truly take advantage of this course students should read or write after each lesson. We suggest alternating -- one day reading, the next day writing. Note that imposing time constraints on a reading and writing routine can be unhelpful. Students should always read to the end of the chapter or write to the the point where they finish their thought. This ends the exercise with a feeling of accomplishment. After the first month, you can start adding to the routine, to further accommodate your student's specific language needs.
The first month...
The first month will be the most turbulent for your student. Initially, your student will need to adapt to the feel and the routine of the program. Although Phonics Coach is easy to use, it will not be the kind of work they are used to in school. Additionally, your student will need to adjust to doing work outside of school. Many students will resent this. The best way to work through these problems is to start out with a routine (see For Best Results).
The phonics curriculum is introduced in a specific order and at a rate controlled by the student's performance. Simple phonetic items come first, so the student adjusts to the basic idea of the task of learning phonics. More difficult phonics will be developed from the basics, and as they reach more difficult material they will be able to approach it with confidence. This program has many safeguards to keep students from feeling overwhelmed. Our program will continuously review phonics with the student so that the knowledge becomes second nature to them. Material they find difficult will be reviewed more frequently than that which they find easy.
THE RIGHT MATERIAL For the purposes of this course, the intellectual content of reading material does not matter. Encourage students to gather knowledge about topics which interest them, even if it's gossip about their favorite band in Rolling Stone magazine. Keep in mind that if material has been published, it has been past an editor. Therefore exposure to published sentence structure and writing style will be useful even when the intellectual content is low.
A Feeling of Accomplishment It is important that each time you read with your student they feel as if they have accomplished something. Do not stop halfway through an article or chapter. This will rule how reading material is selected. If together you choose to read a novel, flip through to make sure the chapters are a suitable length to read in one sitting. When Selecting What to Read Every student has different interests. Rather than you selecting what you think they'd like, ask them to give you some options. You can still make the final decision. If selecting a novel, have them read the back of the book to you. If they can read the back of the book reasonably well, the book may well be at a suitable reading level. (Don't forget to check the length of the chapters.) Just So You Know Most mainstream magazines and newspapers are written at a grade 6 to 8 level, so that most people can enjoy them. Publications that specialize in one field, such as The Financial Post or The Medical Examiner, market to a very well-educated audience and are at a higher literacy level.
Reading Together It is best to sit side by side and take turns reading aloud. When it is your turn to read make sure your student follows along. If you and your student are not comfortable seated side by side, then use two copies of the material for both of you to read and follow. Check periodically to ensure your student is following along because it is very beneficial. Most notably it will help them understand how punctuation affects the way things are read. Tackling Big, Nasty Words Do not help! We cannot stress this enough. When a student encounters a difficult word, tell them to sound it out one syllable at a time. In english, the really intimidating words are generally comprised of perfectly phonetic syllables. Unfortunately there is an exception to the "do not help" rule. If your student is becoming discouraged by the number of big words, you may need to make an agreement. For example, arrange ahead of time that you will help them with a certain number of words per page. This kind of co-operation will take some pressure off the student so they can enjoy the book they have chosen. Reading Alone When reading alone, students may read out loud or to themselves. This reading can be assigned by you or assumed to be something that occurs in regular schoolwork. If your student is reading alone and comes to you for help with a difficult word, encourage them to sound it out loud.
READING OUT LOUD vs. SILENT READING What follows could be thought of as the abridged version of a very brief summary. For the purposes of this course, tutors need only acknowledge that these exercises have different benefits and should both be implemented.
Reading Out Loud Oral reading will act as a strong reinforcement to the phonics portion of this course, and have a tremendous impact on spelling. It is also the time punctuation will be most apparent to your student, as you will be taking turns reading and they will follow along to your example. Silent Reading Silent reading will exercise a student's ability to focus and may be more enjoyable than oral reading. This is because there is no pressure when nobody is listening. It is also a time students will be trying to catch their own mistakes, thereby building independence in learning. Again, difficult words should be attempted by sounding them out loud.
The nemesis for most of our students is spelling. Though it is an integral part of our program, it is often where progress comes the most slowly. Spelling words used in our Phonics Coach spelling exercises should not be memorized. Instead they should be examined first for their syllabic make-up, and then for the phonetic composition of those syllables. If the spelling-words are memorized, the spelling exercises will lose their value. Consequently, instead of understanding syllables and phonetics -- which can aid in reading and spelling many words -- the student will understand, and be able to spell, just the one word.

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