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Frequently Asked Questions

What prompted you to write this book?
This is a big book (331 pages!). Do I have to read all of it to be able to use it?
I am not a trained teacher. Will I be able to use these lessons?
You say it is easy to teach the lessons. Explain what you mean by this.
What supplies are needed for teaching these lessons?
We have started these lessons, and my child really enjoys them. In fact, the lessons seem too easy! Does that mean we need to use something else?
My student is older so where should I begin?
Is this reading program consistent with research on how to best teach reading?
How much teacher preparation is required?
Does this curriculum work with students that I only see once a week?
My child is very intelligent, but I was notified this week that she is reading two grades below the rest of the class. What can I do to help?
Do these lessons work with ESL (English as a Second Language) or ELL (English Language Learner) students?
Do the lessons work with students diagnosed with a learning disability?
I’m a teacher and see the logic and effectiveness of these lessons. However, I can’t see how I can do these lessons in my classroom of 22 students. Do you have any suggestions?
My teenager is a slow reader. He doesn’t like to read and only does the minimum. Will your lessons help?
We have read and spelled through to Lesson 30. My daughter just picked up a book and started to read. I’m so thrilled. It is wonderful. Now that she is reading, do I really need to read and spell more of the lessons?
Q: What prompted you to write this book?

A: I started developing this curriculum in the mid-1990s in response to being asked to help four elementary students in reading. They were participating in a kids' Bible program on Wednesday evenings at a local church, and it was observed that they struggled in reading. Since I had experience as a reading instructor, I was asked to come to the church on Wednesdays to help these youngsters.

We set up our little reading class in the church basement, and I began working with the children one-on-one. It immediately became apparent to me that all four "read" by guessing at words. Guessing can never be REAL READING! Material that I normally taught with with turned out to be ineffective with these students. I researched other reading programs, but didn't find anything I thought would work. Out of necessity, I began formulating lessons especially for these students, lessons that were as simple as I could make them and were aimed at thwarting guessing. I created lessons that consisted of word lists but no pictures, as the presence of illustrations would only tempt the students to guess. Sadly, these students had never been taught that English is read and spelled from left to right (no wonder they were lost and confused!), so an early challenge was getting them into the habit of reading from left to right across the page. Also, I deliberately avoided talking about "rules" and spoke instead of "patterns." Explaining words by patterns made it easier for these students to absorb the material.

We started seeing results! Gradually, over the course of several months, each student's reading and spelling improved dramatically. News of the success of our little reading program spread within the Wednesday evening group, and more kids were asking to come from the regular programming into the basement for reading lessons. I had to line up volunteers to help with the expanding number of students! I created new material during the week to stay ahead of the students who were poised to advance. When this ministry ended a few years later, we had aided 56 students in learning how to read, and I had developed a reading program that was "kid approved" and worked!

Just when I thought my foray into building curriculum was over, requests from parents and teachers began coming for copies of the beginning lessons, followed by requests for the later lessons. The program was becoming known by word-of-mouth and was being used in several states. Demand for my phonics workshops increased significantly, and in between teaching workshops and in-services, I spent time refining the program. Feedback from parents and teachers spurred me on.

People valued the results they were seeing and asked to purchase the complete lessons. I realized the time had come to produce a formal book and make the program available to a wider audience. In preparing to write the book, I watched even more closely how students responded to the lessons and then did even more research. If there was any way to make the teaching of reading easier, I wanted to make sure my book achieved it. My editor suggested naming the book Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple: Phonics-Based Lessons for Elementary, Teen, and Adult Students, because this is a title that quite accurately describes the finished product.

Success cannot be guaranteed to every student, but we haven't heard of or experienced failure. When the curriculum is used as designed, success is almost certain to follow. Outcomes are measurable and often remarkable, and the ease of the program appeals to everyone. Classroom teachers are enthusiastic about the material; students are able to achieve a great deal more than what many thought they could; and autistic, dyslexic, and ADHD diagnosed students are responding with focus, intensity, and enthusiasm. Parents are surprised to find that it's really not difficult to teach reading. They are pleased that their children like working through the lessons. We have collected numerous success stories!

The importance of having excellent teaching instructions cannot be overstated. The instructions in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple are basic and easy to follow. After doing a brief overview of the instructions, most educators and volunteers will be very comfortable sitting beside a student and conducting a lesson.

Some educators tell me they themselves were never instructed in the patterns of the English language. After becoming familiar with my program, these teachers say they are confident that their effectiveness in the classroom will increase. After attending one of my in-service workshops, a seasoned educator noted, "I always wondered why all my students didn't learn to read. Now, I understand."


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Q: This is a big book (331 pages!). Do I have to read all of it to be able to use it?

A:  The book is filled with excellent information from cover to cover, but it's not necessary to read the whole book to use it. There are 90 lessons in all, each accompanied by a short set of instructions. That's the main focus. If you're for teaching tips and supplemental information, the book has those, too. Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple is structured so that you can quickly find what you need, when you need it.


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Q: I am not a trained teacher. Will I be able to use these lessons?

A:  The lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple are carefully engineered to ensure success, both for the student and the tutor, and a teaching background is not a prerequisite for the person conducting the lessons. If the tutor can read, he or she can use this book to teach someone else to read. Each lesson comes with one page of easy-to-follow instructions. The method is the same for all 90 lessons, providing a predictable routine with which everyone will be comfortable.


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Q: You say it is easy to teach the lessons. Explain what you mean by this.

A:  One reason the lessons are easy to teach is that every lesson follows the same format. Once you learn the teaching method for the first lesson, you know how to teach the entire book. There are four steps to our teaching method: (1) read lists of words, (2) discuss word meanings, and (3) spell the words in every lesson. The only other suggested action is to keep track of the student’s progress on a chart supplied in the book.


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Q: What supplies are needed for teaching these lessons?

A:  Everything needed to teach reading is contained in this book. There are no flashcards or tiles to buy, posters to purchase, or mandatory workbooks to acquire. All you will need, in addition to this book, are notebook paper, pencils, and a good dictionary. For younger students, you might purchase small stickers to place on the progress charts. We recommend putting all of these items in a bag or box and having this "kit" ready to go at every session.


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Q: We have started these lessons, and my child really enjoys them. In fact, the lessons seem too easy! Does that mean we need to use something else?

A: Our lessons are designed to appear easy and be easy, but this in no way diminishes the learning that is occurring. The material is progressive and will get more complex.  We have worked overtime to ensure the program isn’t perceived as difficult; ease of learning has always been our goal. Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple is a comprehensive curriculum and has every element needed to teach reading from a beginner’s level to a college level. The curriculum is suitable for students who have learning disabilities or no disabilities at all. So, if your son has been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, or any other challenging condition, this curriculum will supply the help needed. Students will benefit greatly from the cognitive skills that are developed through the teaching of these lessons.

There are several reasons your son enjoys the material. Students who are good guessers and memorizers like being taught word patterns, because this knowledge relieves them of the burden of doing guess work (and the risk of being wrong). Also, all students enjoy learning the meaning of new vocabulary words, which they can use in their daily lives. Students who have struggled at reading and become discouraged get the same high level of vocabulary and pattern support as any other student. To see these students who have struggled become accomplished readers is doubly satisfying.


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Q: My student is older so where should I begin?

A: Always start at the beginning! The age of the student is immaterial. If your son can read and spell quickly through the beginning lessons, that means he is ready for the upcoming lessons. He will, at some point, come to lessons that introduce patterns with which he is not yet familiar. Here’s our rule of thumb: If a student can read the words in Lesson 1 with ease, do start there, but if he hesitates at all, start him in the Pre-Unit with Lesson A.

Even though the first lessons may appear easy, rest assured that our words are not “baby words.” The chosen sequence of words introduces your student to very important syllable patterns. All words are made up of one or more syllables and have at least one vowel, and learning these patterns enables your student to handle not only current but future words, as well, and gain automaticity. Furthermore, the words are staged in the lessons to create an expectation in your student’s mind that words have meaning. Our approach involves large doses of reading, spelling, and comprehension.

In summary, don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of the words in the early lessons. We are building skills that will give students the tools they need to read and spell any written material with ease. Every lesson is intended to be easy for the student. We’ve worked hard to make it so.


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Q: Is this reading program consistent with research on how to best teach reading?

A: The author did considerable study into how students optimally learn, and her findings are factored into this curriculum. During her workshops and in-services, Mrs. Cauley discusses some of this research, including brain studies and eye tracking studies. The reading lessons are organized around the best research she could find, and this is why the program is phonics- and pattern-based.


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Q: How much teacher preparation is required?

A: By design, this curriculum requires only a few minutes of teacher prep time per lesson. The most time consuming prep occurs in teaching the very first lesson. To prepare for teaching the first lesson in Reading and Spelling, the instructor will want to skim through the introductory pages of the book. The introduction gives a bird’s-eye view of how the lessons are formatted. Reading through the introduction takes about 30 minutes (pp. xi - xxviii). Looking at the instructions in the Pre-Unit (pp. 3 - 14) and the guidance notes at the beginning of Lesson 1 (p. 22) will take about 10 minutes. With these three short briefings, a tutor will be adequately prepared to teach this program.


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Q: Does this curriculum work with students that I only see once a week?

A: Absolutely. The lessons are being used successfully in weekly sessions taught by classroom teachers and tutors. The lessons were originally developed for a ministry that met with students only once per week. We never knew how many students would show up and with what frequency, so the lessons were designed in short, manageable segments to accommodate variations in schedule. The program works very well in a once-a-week format. However, it is also true that students make speedier progress with more frequent teaching sessions. Daily lessons or several lessons a week help students acquire the patterns faster.


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Q: My child is very intelligent, but I was notified this week that she is reading two grades below the rest of the class. What can I do to help?

A: You can catch your child up using the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple, quickly bringing him to grade level and often beyond. Many parents and tutors have done this successfully, and you can, too. 
Here are a few examples:

6th Grade Student
At the end of the sixth grade, a student in Midland, Texas, was tested in reading and the results indicated that he was functioning on a second-grade level. His mother began teaching him that summer using the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple. He quickly improved four grade levels and began making the A / B honor roll and, upon reaching high school, was grade-eligible to play sports. This student plans on attending college. He proudly sent us a copy of his acceptance letter.

5th Grade Student
A Midland fifth-grader was functioning at a kindergarten reading level. A teacher volunteered to work with this young man using the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple. She met with him two or three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes per session, and they made it to Lesson 55. At the end of his fifth grade year, this student was reading and spelling above grade level. For the first time ever, he passed all of the required Texas tests and was awarded a monetary prize for being one of the three most improved reading students in the nation.

5th Grade Student, Twice Retained
A student in Big Spring, Texas, had repeated the fifth grade twice and was being considered for a third retention. He started working through the lessons in Reading and Spelling during the summer before he entered sixth grade (he would complete the entire course over two summers). He comfortably passed his sixth grade classes. His new reading and spelling skills were so strong, in fact, that his seventh-grade teachers suggested he take the Texas exams that would allow him to skip the eighth grade and begin high school.

1st Grade Student
A first grade student refused to participate in reading activities at school. He started working through Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple with his stepmother in March and enthusiastically worked through the summer. They were able to complete through Lesson 55 before he entered second grade. This boy’s reading ability skyrocketed and he couldn’t wait for his second-grade teacher to call on him to read out loud in class! The teacher told his parents that their son was one of her top two reading students. Furthermore, this student became so excited about learning to read that he insisted on taking the book on vacation so he could continue his lessons!

3rd Grade Student
A third-grade student in Waco, Texas, was unable to read anything. A number of different curricula were tried, but none helped. One classroom support person requested that she be allowed to try the lessons in Reading and Spelling with this student. This young man is now reading and progressing in his school work.

Several 3rd -Grade Students
Several third-grade students in Oklahoma were tested as being between two and four years below grade level (testing showed these students functioning on a Pre-K through second-grade reading level). A classroom aide was assigned to work with these five students in their classroom during second semester for thirty minutes each morning. The aide used the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple one-on-one with the students. Within three weeks, all five students had improved between two and four grade-levels according to their Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) tests.

Autistic Student
A third-grade student had been diagnosed with autism. He refused to participate in any of his school work. His personal aide began teaching him using the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple. He began to work on the lessons with enthusiasm. The school staff was relieved and delighted that this student was now learning how to read.


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Q: Do these lessons work with ESL (English as a Second Language) or ELL (English Language Learner) students?

A: The program is excellent for children and adult ESL and ELL students. The lessons teach the syllable patterns of the English language in small, manageable steps. The attention given to the meaning of the words helps ESL and ELL students build strong vocabulary. The lesson format also empowers these students to learn how to correctly pronounce and accurately spell most words that the student will encounter in the English-speaking world. Teachers who have used Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple with ESL and ELL students have reported getting excellent responses from their students. This improvement, in turn, was being reflected in test scores.

Case Study: An adult Vietnamese student who wanted to learn English in order to attend college began taking lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple. About halfway through the course, she was asked if she was pleased with her progress. She disclosed that she caught herself spelling English words in her head as she listened to people conversing in English. The emphasis in Reading and Spelling on practicing spelling was obviously carrying over outside of class! She was quite pleased with her progress.


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Q: Do the lessons work with students diagnosed with a learning disability?

A: Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple has a commendable track record of success with learning-disabled students. The lessons have helped students diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing deficits (SPD), dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Also, some of the more dramatic successes have involved students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD and ADD).

For more insights into how Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple can be used to meet the needs of your particular student, send us an e-mail.


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Q: I’m a teacher and see the logic and effectiveness of these lessons. However, I can’t see how I can do these lessons in my classroom of 22 students. Do you have any suggestions?

A: A popular segment of the book is “Ideas for the Classroom Teacher” (pp. 201 to 205). Classroom teachers in several states are using and recommending the lessons to other educators, and they have provided suggestions on how to apply the curriculum to settings involving more than one student at a time. At the request of teachers, the Real Reading Company is creating a series of word study workbooks for classroom use. When the workbooks are available, we will notify the public on the home page of our website www.realreading.com. These workbooks are strictly optional.


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Q: My teenager is a slow reader. He doesn’t like to read and only does the minimum. Will your lessons help?

A: Yes, our lessons will help. Often, students dread reading because they are spending so much mental effort guessing at words and trying to remember where they have seen them before, or even if they have. Real reading is supposed to be easy and automatic, not a struggle. We find that some of the smartest students (often ones who have surpassing math ability) do not master reading via conventional instructional methods.  The unconventionality of Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple (word lists, no pictures) really works well for them.

Before you start doing the first lesson in our book with your son, you might want to consider doing the suggested activity found on page 24. It is a visual exercise that will enable your son to see that learning single-syllable words in the early lessons is going to help him master multi-syllable words later. These syllable patterns are carefully and artfully introduced so that students can develop an automatic response to them. Most skills must be practiced to become automatic. The words in the word lists are intentionally selected to provide this needed practice.

Let me list a few of these important learning habits here. One, your student must develop the habit of reading through words from left to right. Two, he must develop the automaticity that signifies reading and spelling with ease. And three, he must realize that all words have meaning.

Some slow readers (perhaps this is true of your son) are simply tired of guessing. It is hard work and exhausting to always have to think, remember, and then make an educated guess about words.  Our 90 lessons will equip him to read and spell without having to pause and think so hard. These lessons will allow your son to relax and begin to enjoy reading.

The very structure of the lessons in Reading and Spelling Pure & Simple significantly fosters and facilitates students’ brain development in the area of the brain that controls vision and language. These pathways are essential to students developing the cognitive ability to read and spell with speed, skill, and certainty.


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Q: We have read and spelled through to Lesson 30. My daughter just picked up a book and started to read. I’m so thrilled. It is wonderful. Now that she is reading, do I really need to read and spell more of the lessons?

A: A student needs to complete up through Lesson 55 to be able to read and spell all of the words he or she will encounter in elementary school. They will need to complete all 90 lessons in the book to be able to handle the words used in the curriculum for middle school, junior high, high school and college. We also are delighted that your child is applying what he or she is learning. Thank you for sharing this information with us.


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