The Riggs Institute Blog

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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Am I Teaching Riggs? (How Not to Change the Riggs Program)

Last week I worked with another school founder whose teachers had received their Riggs training from an authorized trainer. This founder was now worried that her school might be out of compliance with its charter because of the changes her teachers had made to the Riggs program.
 

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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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Why Can't I Use Pictures to Teach Riggs Phonograms?

The Complete Handbook of Children's Reading Disorders

Last week my friend told me about yet another Pinterest pinner who had created a cute set of cards to help children learn phonics facts. Instead of presenting each letter, or multi-letter combination, in isolation, as the Riggs Institute recommends and as the Riggs Institute’s phonogram cards do, this pinner’s set of “Riggs” cards included clever pictures that were intended to give students a visual signal for the associated speech sound.

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Are Your Students Practicing Without Understanding?

Many beginning and remedial readers are being asked to complete “learning activities” without being told how they will be helped by them. This is a problem.

In order to read efficiently, explains Dr. Hilde Mosse in her Complete Handbook of Children’s Reading Disorders, students must understand what they are supposed to be learning. Do yours? 

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Teach Phonics Like You Are Coaching Champions

Many teachers of beginning and struggling readers do not realize that the activities they've been told to use will create students who continue to struggle.

Having been mislead into teaching phonics and other decoding skills from worksheets (a recipe for failure), these teachers pass out worksheets throughout the day. They have never been shown how to create champions.

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