Known by my students as, “Pen caps on, switch colors now,” Color the Sounds provides black-line masters from which 12 guided practice student booklets can be generated for small-group instruction. Progress monitoring charts and assessment score sheets are also included. Individual assessment pages are included in each of the student booklets. The intervention is well suited for RTI, tier 2 or 3, but can be used with any small group of students who need help with reading. The emphasis of the guided practice lesson is vowels. Students use color markers to trace vowels and consonants in contrasting colors so that visual representations of the patterns that control long and short vowel sounds emerge. In this way, struggling students discover the patterns through inductive reasoning. The materials are specifically designed for emerging readers who are struggling with blending and/or making the transition from short vowel to long vowel single-syllable words. The first set of student booklets covers short vowel patterns, the second covers long vowel patterns, while the third set covers r-controlled, plurals, 24 irregularly spelled sight words, short and longer passages. With the exception of a few plurals, all the vocabulary is one-syllabled.
The student booklets are designed to reduce the amount of processing involved in decoding, thereby reducing the demand put on short-term memory (weak short-term memory has been shown to be a major contributor to reading acquisition difficulty). By using and rotating color markers and by tracing the targeted letters while chorusing the corresponding sounds (ie: the a says /ă/, the a says /ă/), both tactile/kinesthetic and auditory dimensions are added to the instruction. On-task behavior is high in most cases because the movement involved in the rotation of the markers encourages students experiencing attention deficits to stay focused, and some students that resist writing in pencil will readily use color markers.
These materials may not be suitable for students with severe visual impairment.