Singular Minds
May 1, 2005 • Volume I, Issue 9
Prolinguistica Dyslexia Correction Center
Laura Zink de Diaz

Quote of the Month
Gripping stuff... No wonder all our children are so eager to read ...
Where is Nat?
Where is Nat? Nat is not in. Where is Nat? Nat is not in the tin. Nat is not in. Where is Nat? Nat is not in the pan. Nat is not in the tin. Nat is not in. Nat is not in the pan, not in the tin, not in.
Where is Nat? Nat is on the mat.
From Houghton-Mifflin Reading. This is what's considered "decodeable" reading, in case you wondered...


Prolinguistica Mini-Workshops
Four left! Sign up today!

Raising a Reader
Dates: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 • 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday, May 7, 2005 • 8:30 am - 11:30 am

Writing Projects Kids Go For
Dates: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 • 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday, May 14, 2005 • 8:30 am - 11:30 am

What Can I Leave for My Sub?
Dates: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 • 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday, May 21, 2005 • 8:30 am - 11:30 am

Pick a language and teach it- with TPR!
Dates: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 • 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saturday, May 28, 2005 • 8:30 am - 11:30 am

You'll find more information on the content and learning outcomes of the mini-workshops, and a downloadable registration form at the Prolinguistica website: Cost per person is just $39.95 per workshop. Please share this information with friends and colleagues, with anyone you think might be interested in attending.

Upcoming Public Talk

I'll be holding a public talk on dyslexia and ADD/HD on May 24 from 7 pm to 8 pm in Room 206 at the center. This is a free, informational talk. Most of you are by now very familiar with the information, but if you know anyone who could benefit by attending, please let them know about the talk. While I'm finding that all of the smaller newspapers in the surrounding communities are happy to announce these events, the paper in Mount Vernon, inexplicably, isn't. So if you know anyone in Mount Vernon who needs this information, please spread the word!

Clay Night

Have you been doing your clay??? Remember, the clay work is ESSENTIAL. If you've been cruisin' with your orientation point or alignment, you may feel like you don't need to do Symbol Mastery. But remember that if you don't do the clay work, the underlying confusion just gets deeper and deeper until it overwhelms you and you can't get oriented or aligned any more! If you've gotten off track, clay night at the center can help get you back on your way! Our next clay night will be May 12 in the center. We'll begin at 5:30 pm with PIZZA! and conversation.  After the really important part - eating! - we'll work on words from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Please call (360-848-9792) or email ( to let me know you plan to attend -- so I can be sure we have enough pizza on hand! Cost: $15/client. (Support persons get in free!)

Support Group Meeting

This month's Support Group meeting will be held on May 19 at 7:00 pm in Room 206 at the center in Mount Vernon. If you haven't been to the center yet, there are directions and a map on the web site at: Or, give me a call at 360-848-9792 for verbal directions. There is no fee for the meeting and you don't have to be a former or current client or client parent to attend, so if you know people who might benefit, invite them!

DLS Training for Teachers

Davis Learning Strategies is a reading approach for use in classrooms, Kindergarten through 3rd grade. It has no language arts content, so it can be used with whatever reading program is in use at your school. "No content?" I hear you murmuring out there - "then, what is it?" To put it far too simply, DLS is a modification of the Davis strategies for use with small groups. The strategies I use for correction were designed to help people who've already developed a dyslexic learning style. DLS is designed to minimize the chances that the problem may develop. DLS is in use in schools around the country and the world (South Africa, Germany, Iceland, Switzerland, to name only a few). When DLS is folded into a school's language arts program from Kindergarten through the end of third grade, there's no evidence of dyslexia in the students who participated when they're tested at the end of grade 3. That's wonderful, considering that in the general population from 5% to 15% of students have developed a dyslexic learning style by that age. But even better, the results also show a higher than usual number of referrals to gifted programs in those schools. Although it takes a minimum of a year of training to obtain licensing as a correction facilitator, teachers can learn to implement DLS in just one two-day training. If you're interested in attending a two day workshop on DLS, there are four opportunities to take the training in the US over this summer:

June 27-28 in Helena, Montana
July 25-26, San Antonio, Texas
July 28-29, Tyler, Texas
August 15-16, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I've taken the training, but am not an expert on DLS, so for more in depth information on Davis Learning Strategies, go to: For a description of the training, visit: On that page you'll also find a link to download a registration form, and a link to the list of DLS school mentors and presenters.

Home schooling parents: although DLS is designed for schools, DDA also has a program designed for use in the home with children from 5 to 8 years old, the Davis Young Learner Kit for Home. And for children age 9 and up, the Davis Symbol Mastery Kit. These are available in the bookstore at They come with instruction manuals and no formal Davis training is needed in order to use them.

Good Stuff to Read

Being too involved in your kid's life takes a toll
Parents who base self-worth on their children's success endure wide range of problems.
By Sue Shellenbarger / Wall Street Journal
The fact that overinvolved parents can cause problems for their kids is well-known. Now, new research shows they can drive themselves nuts too.... Often called "helicopter parents" (they hover), these overinvolved moms and dads reported more sadness, crying and negative beliefs about themselves and less joy, contentment and life satisfaction, says the study of 408 parents, recently released at a conference of the Society for Research in Child Development in Atlanta. Worse yet, there's no upside: Parents whose children did well, as measured by their college grades, showed no improvement in well-being. Take a deep breath and then read the rest at:

When quiet kids get forgotten in class
Teachers sometimes make the mistake of assuming that students who don't speak up have little to contribute.
By Toni Weingarten | Christian Science Monitor
... Those not comfortable jumping into the verbal fray are sometimes judged as fearful, less intelligent, or even uncooperative... As many as 50 to 60 percent of Stanford students say that shyness is a problem at times, according to surveys done by Lynne Henderson, visiting professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Shyness Institute in Palo Alto, Calif.. These tend to be talented and academically successful students, says Dr. Henderson. The whole classroom loses out when such students are ignored or marginalized, says Henderson. "We cannot afford to have these kids not participate. They're smart." In fact, the qualities that many quieter children express - thoughtfulness, studiousness, conscientiousness - are among those most needed for the complex problem-solving required by today's information-oriented economy.
Read the rest at:

by W. James Popham
For the last four decades, students' scores on standardized tests have increasingly been regarded as the most meaningful evidence for evaluating U.S. schools. Most Americans, indeed, believe students' standardized test performances are the only legitimate indicator of a school's instructional effectiveness. Yet, although test-based evaluations of schools seem to occur almost as often as fire drills, in most instances these evaluations are inaccurate. That's because the standardized tests employed are flat-out wrong. Read how and why the instructionally insensitive tests used to evaluate schools shortchange students by creating curricular reductionism and excessive and dreary drilling that kills student motivation to learn, while also leading to cheating such as has been seen in schools and at the district level all over the country since high stakes testing became the norm at:

Tutors for tots?
By Jodi Helmer, The Christian Science Monitor
A growing number of parents across the country are enrolling preschoolers in tutoring programs, hoping that early education will prepare them for school and help them to become successful students. But some critics argue that structured academic programs for preschoolers are doing more harm than good. "There is no research that shows that early academic programs have a lasting positive impact on children," says David Elkind, professor of child development at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. "In fact studies show that the high pressure of early academic programs can result in children with higher anxiety levels and lower self-esteem who are not doing any better academically." Tutoring programs aimed at preschoolers exploit parental anxieties and undermine parental confidence, says Dr. Elkind. Read the rest of this article at:

Research finds a Dandy way to help young boys improve literacy

Kevin Schofield, The Scotsman
Research published yesterday revealed that while 17 per cent of boys aged between seven and 11 do not read books outside school, 60 per cent regularly read comics. The survey also revealed that just 5 per cent of boys read for more than an hour a day in their spare time, compared to 17 per cent of girls. Last night, experts said that encouraging youngsters to read comics could be a vital tool in the fight to improve literacy rates. Read more at:
Stephen Krashen and Joanne Ujiie published a study a few years ago showing that middle school boys (ages 10-14) who were heavy comic book readers liked reading more, read more in general, and read more books than lighter comic book readers, who in turn read more than non-comic book readers. Krashen has commented that Desmond Tutu is one of many who give comic books credit for being a conduit to literacy. Tutu describes his father as “very patriarchal,” but has been quoted as saying “One of the things I am most grateful to him for is that, contrary to educational principles, he allowed me to read comics. I think that is how I developed my love for English and for reading.”

Getting back to foreign language instruction...

Why support a delayed-gratification approach to language education?

Why, indeed! Dr. Krashen is at it again. He's got a great article on his website about the superiority of what I call comprehension-based language instruction (Comprehension or Input Hypothesis) in comparison to the "Skill Building" hypothesis. Skill building assumes that in order to learn a language you must master all the rules first. Hence, grammar based instruction, lots of drill and tedium. AND, you have to wait from 4 to 6 years before you get any "gratification," which is to say, before you can communicate comfortably in the language. This is the "common sense" approach to language instruction. Unfortunately, it only works for a very small percentage of language learners -- people like me, who have a wire crossed somewhere in their brain that makes grammar study more exciting than an episode of 24! As Krashen states, "The Comprehension Hypothesis does not require delayed gratification. It claims that we can enjoy real language use right away: we can listen to stories, read books, and engage in interesting conversations as soon as they are comprehensible. The Comprehension Hypothesis, in fact, insists on pleasure from the beginning, on acquirers obtaining interesting, comprehensible input right from the start. The path of pleasure is the only path. The path of pain does not work for language acquisition." Preach it, Brother Stephen! Couldn't dream of saying it better myself. This is precisely why TPR works so well! Unless you're one of the approximately 6%, who like me, can "get it" from the usual and customary skill building approach, you've always known he's right. Read his article at:
And quote him every time you hear someone extoll the virtues learning the hard way!

And now for a little fun...

is a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's an excerpt from one of his recent submissions. Around paragraph six you'll see where he's going...

... Already, I find, I am way behind the curve on reading. I thought I'd be able to teach the World's Most Perfect Grandchild a little bit about reading, because it's one of the few areas of life in which I excel. I can read until my eyes fall out and never break a sweat.

But, alas, no. A note came back from the nursery school -- please do not teach your children the alphabet, it only confuses them. We're supposed to sound out words now. Out is "B"; in is "Buh." Out is "S"; in is "Sssss." Cuh- ah-tuh. Cuh-ah-tuh. Cat! See, this will prepare them for life. We're all hooked on phonics now.

We were over at WMPG's friend Phoebe's house. We were in the bathroom, and in front of the sink was a stool with the word "Phoebe" on it. So cute. WMPG pointed to the stool. "Does that say Phoebe?" she asked. She was using context. Such a clever child. Notify the Nobel committee.

I started to talk about how the "ph" spelling comes to us from the Greek (I had apposite examples at my fingertips), but then I realized that I was using the bad old discredited pedagogy. "So sound it out, sweetie," I said.

"Puh," she said.

"Well, usually yes, but in his case the 'puh' goes with the 'huh' and makes a 'fuh.' " She looked at me as if I had gone mad. "OK, a PH in English usually sounds like an F. It just does. So go on."

"Oh, ee," she said. The vowels, of course, sound like themselves. Except for U. Is U really even a vowel? If it weren't for "ululate," would we even need a U? What does phonics do with a diphthong? Is this advanced phonics?

"Well, right, except in English this sounds like the second letter, like an E. Ee. There are lots of words like that, like -- " and here's my advice on this matter: Never start a sentence if you don't know where it's going to end. The only example I could think of was Moet Champagne, which is so very wrong in so many ways. "OK, Fuh-ee. What's next."

"Buh, ee." She said dubiously.

"Hooray," I said. "Buh-ee. So fuh-ee-buh-ee. All you have to do is sound it out, except for that PH sound and the two vowels in a row because" another sentence ending at a cliff. I suddenly wondered what happened to "I before E except after C or when sounded as A as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh.' " Is that now forbidden in the classroom? Are we all "huh-aa-puh-puh-ee buh-ii-er-tuh- huh-duh-aa-ee to you"?

I know there are answers to these questions. I know I am merely the voice of reaction. I know this because kids are reading better than ever now thanks to -- wait, kids aren't reading better than ever now. En-oh-tuh. But there are cultural reasons for this. Population pressures. Puh-huh-oh-en-ii-kuh-sss are not responsible.
"You want to go back and color with Phoebe?" I asked. "I think Lura has some salami." WMPG is crazy for salami. We ended the noble experiment right there. From now on, I'm all about horsies.

I can do the math, but I have not finished the reading. I'm reading a poem by Ee-em-ii-luh-ee Duh-ii-kuh-kuh- ii-en-ss-oh-en. It's a real short poem, but it's taking a real long time. Next up, the ii-el-ii-aa-duh.

Found at:

Have a great month!

Next Issue of Singular Minds: June 1, 2005

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