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Sing, Spell, Read, and WriteSongs That Teach


Phone: (727) 799-9825
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(855) 321-TEACH (8322)

Email: sue@suedickson.com

www.suedickson.com

By Ellen Meade

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum that has been around for many years. It is a complete program that teaches reading, comprehension, spelling, writing, grammar, and even creative writing. Through songs, games, readers, and assessments, students evolve into independent readers at their own pace. The program is award-winning and backed by thorough research. But the story of how Sing, Spell, Read, and Write developed is the true testament to this program: Sue Dickson created it because she knew phonics works, and teaching it with music, makes phonics fun.

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum that has been around for many years. It is a complete program that teaches reading, comprehension, spelling, writing, grammar, and even creative writing. Through songs, games, readers, and assessments, students evolve into independent readers at their own pace. The program is award-winning and backed by thorough research. But the story of how Sing, Spell, Read, and Write developed is the true testament to this program: Sue Dickson created it because she knew phonics works, and teaching it with music, makes phonics fun.

 

Sue Dickson always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Ever since she was a little girl, Sue knew she could inspire and guide her students to their fullest potential. She loved encouraging children to explore and dream big, but even though she obtained a BS in education, she knew she didn’t know how to teach beginning reading, and her first teaching assignment was for first grade. This is where kids are taught foundational learning and Sue was panicked. As she tells it, “It’s like those first stitches in knitting something – those stitches are unique and provide the entire foundation for the rest of the piece.” Sue didn’t know how to start. She found that some of her first-graders knew the alphabet, but none of them could apply that knowledge in any way to reading. The methodology at that time was just to memorize words by repetition, and many of her students couldn’t do that.

Today, public schools are in constant debate over how best to teach reading; but once a technique is selected, teachers must strictly adhere to the curriculum, despite its shortcomings. The same was true when Sue Dickson was teaching decades ago. Sue read Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolf Flesch and learned that teaching letter sounds provided students with a magic key to learn how to read, but she found she had to go underground to teach that way in her public school.

Sue left her teaching position to spend time raising her rapidly-growing family, and at the same time she tutored many struggling readers whose mothers found their way to her door. In a jarring move to New Jersey, she found herself in an unfamiliar place with her young children. In her desperation, Sue leaned heavily on her faith, and in a sudden burst of inspiration one day, she wrote The A To Z Phonics Song. Soon a local school heard of her teaching experience and Sue found herself back in the classroom within a week. She found many of her second-grade students were not able to read on grade level, and she knew she had her work cut out for her. Sue took her Phonics Song from her purse, had the children illustrate it, and lined the classroom walls with their phonics pictures for the alphabet, and got to work teaching the children to sing the song while pointing to the letters A to Z. Within days, the kids knew their letter sounds and were singing and learning with lightning speed. But once again, administrators tried to put a stop to her “alternative” teaching method.

Sue could hear God encouraging her to persevere despite the rejection by her school administrators, and soon she had a total of seven songs, covering everything needed for using phonics to teach reading. Sue’s magical, musical reading method was published in 1972 and has been in print ever since. She named her subsequent Total Language Arts Curriculum, Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, and it has changed the lives of thousands of children over the years.

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write is especially popular with those teaching students with special needs or struggling readers. Games similar to “Go Fish” and “Bingo” help to make learning letter sounds and high frequency sight words fun for all kids. The songs really are the “magic key to reading” that Sue described – it connects with these students in a way that traditional reading programs never could. She has stacks of letters from parents and teachers, all singing the praises of this incredible program.

Sue has also created several other curriculums in addition to Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. For older kids, 4th grade and up, who struggle with reading, check out her Winning: The Race to Independent Reading Ability. And check out her Musical Math Facts kits, turning the mastery of the 100 addition and 100 subtraction facts and the 12 multiplication tables and division facts into fun sing-along songs and games. Even science and history get a musical turn with Sue’s Inventors and Inventions Song and The President’s Song.

Parents interested in these programs, and much more, should visit her website at www.suedickson.com Take the time to browse the selection of many teaching programs available and watch the You Tube videos to get a better sense of Sue Dickson’s songs that teach. As a teacher wrote to Sue, “What children like, they pay attention to, and what they pay attention to, they learn,” and “What you sing, you remember forever.”
E.M.

 

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