The Riggs Institute Blog

"If You've Lost All Hope" — Ivan's Story

When Ivan was in the middle of second grade, his mother dragged him into my office at the Riggs Institute’s little learning center. Head down, Ivan refused to look at me as his mother spoke of her concerns. “Ivan is two years behind in reading skills,” she said, “and none of his teachers have been able to help him. The think he has a learning disorder and the school wants him tested."

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Leveled Readers vs. Rich Texts

I recently walked into a school in which teachers were using leveled readers to pair their students with books that best matched their reading abilities. A great deal of money had been spent to purchase these readers, and these teachers were spending a lot of instructional time assessing reading levels, matching children to texts, grouping kids by reading ability, and so on.
 

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Teaching Sentence Structure

Systematic Explicit Teaching: Sentence Structure

If your students are using the Riggs program, they already know that spoken words are the signs of ideas. They also know that written words are symbols for spoken words. 

If you have gotten past lesson 36, your students also know that words can be strung together to form sentences, which are the signs of thoughts.

By now your students have begun to write sentences from dictation, and they have begun to write sentences which illustrate their new spelling-vocabulary words.

In fact, by lesson 72 your Riggs students will have written so many sentences (dictated and original) that they will be ready to begin a formal study of syntax.

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Wiring the Brain to Prevent and Correct Reading Disabilities

In 1949 Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist, proved that everything you think, feel, and do triggers thousands of neurons. Not only that, but Hebb went on to explain that when you think, say, or do something repeatedly, your brain triggers the same neurons each time, and these neurons form what is called a “neural network.” He summed up this important finding with an easily remembered statement: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Remembering this can help you become a better reading teacher. Here’s how:

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"The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" — Separate and Forgotten?

On July 10, 2000, President Bush gave a speech to the NAACP in which he said:
 
“Several months ago I visited Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, where African-Americans confronted injustice and white Americans confronted their conscience. In 43 years, we have come so far in opening the doors of our schools. But today we have a challenge of our own. While all can enter our schools, many—too many, are not learning there.”
 

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Using Hand Signals to Teach Riggs Phonograms

Since I try to stay informed about how teachers and parents are using the Riggs Institute’s materials, I sometimes hear of people who use them in fun-looking ways.

When I recently searched YouTube and Pinterest for “Riggs Phonograms,” for example, I found a number of videos (none of which had been approved by Riggs) in which teachers were using hand signals to practice Riggs phonograms. Have you seen them?

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