Ten "Rules" for Preventing Reading Failure

Sometimes I get a phone call, sometimes a text, and sometimes the call comes via email or in person during one of our training workshops, but however it comes, it often includes a request for a cheat sheet--for some version of a “Rules for Riggs teachers” list. Over and over again, people want to know what’s non-negotiable.

What should I do with these students who can’t read? they ask. What can’t I forget to do? What shouldn’t I do? And so on. These are all versions of the same question: What are the rules for teaching Riggs? While the detailed answer is spelled out in the Riggs Institute’s Skills and Performance Checklists, which can be found after every ten lessons in the Level I teaching text, sometimes I feel like I’m being asked for a set of commandments, something they can pin to their classroom walls or nail up in their halls.

What would be on such a list? Here are some foundational rules:

  1. Teach spelling with reading.
  2. Teach students that spoken words contain phonemes.
  3. Teach students that phonemes are represented by graphemes.
  4. Teach students how to write and read graphemes, and teach them to blend.
  5. Do not ask students to read words before they can read graphemes.
  6. Teach students about morphemes (bases, prefixes, suffixes)
  7. Do not ask students to read sentences before they can read words.
  8. Do not ask students to read books before they can read sentences.
  9. Always have students see, hear, say and write simultaneously while practicing.
  10. Teach the rules of English spelling and syllabication as they are encountered in new words.

What's on your list?

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