top of page


Progress Your Students Will Notice

Every lesson in Sparking the Reading Shift is designed to show reluctant readers that they can easily read words that may, at first, look challenging. Students sense much needed success as they build words from sounds, spellings, and morphemes. Their confidence grows as

they learn to identify and extend patterns, including in multisyllabic words. You will notice the growth, too, as your child or student easily reads and writes words, phrases (groups of words) and then sentences – the exact steps that many programs take weeks, or months to complete.

In each 30 to 45-minute lesson readers identify, manipulate, spell, read, and write over five hundred words with all kinds of spellings, pronunciations, and meanings – just like in real text. To tie everything together, the lessons end with fluency practice, leaving students with a noticeable ‘I can do this’ feeling.


The following descriptions of the activities found in both STaRS: Language-Literacy Intervention

and STaRS: Language-Literacy Enrichment also show how easy they are to teach.


Start with Letter and Sound Analysis

This activity uses the proven minimal contrast word analysis method to draw a reader’s attention to the fine details in words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation. 
Students listen to an verbal prompt asking them to identify the sound / spelling in one of a pair of similar words: “Circle the letters that makes the /ai/ in brain. Next, circle the /o/ in stomp. 3— the letters that make the /ai/ in stain.”

Play with Sound, Spelling & Meaning

Sounds and spellings shift in words all the time, so it’s important that readers know how to manipulate words. Often called word chains, or phoneme substitution practice, this activity shows readers how slight shifts in words change their meaning.

Prompt: “This is crown. What word do you get if you change the /k/ to a /b/? Always say it and then write it. Now change the /ow/ to an /ai/. 3. Now change the /n/ in brain to a /l/….”

Next, Extend the Pattern

Reading Runners learn basic patterns and then extend them to more challenging words. This is easily taught to Reading Walkers and Joggers by providing reading practice that builds patterns – not just teach isolated words or spelling. The reader simply reads down a column two or three times until it sounds smooth. If the

student struggles, the teacher just reads a column once, providing proper modeling.


Practice Flexible Word Recognition

English has a confusing set of spelling and sounds that don’t easily follow rules.Reading Runners connect these shifts with words they know from speech. Walkers and Joggers learn how to read these patterns quickly if they are explicitly practice reading this word patterns together. Again, the teacher models the activity by breaking the words down by sound – or saying them very slowly – and then the student repeats the process.

Now, Read Onset-Rime Patterns

This activity will quickly show Walkers and Joggers that they can learn to read well. Words can be broken down into onset-rime patterns. The onset of a word is the consonants before the vowel. The rime is the ending of the word starting with the first vowel.

Learning common rime patterns is as important as learning basic sound-symbol relationships. The student says the rime and then the following word that builds on it. Model, as needed.

Play with Morphemes

It’s never too early to show readers how big, long words are made of simple parts – and that those parts give words meaning. Morphological word sums (inspecting = in+spect+ing) and matrices (the box with spect in the middle) are an easy and effective way of adding this critical component to literacy instruction.


Now Find Similar Patterns in Syllables

The student sees a list of multisyllabic words that contain one or more of the syllables under Find: The find and circle the syllables as they say read it. Then they read each word and write it, which helps place the word in memory.

Compare and Read Phrases

Phrases are a wonderful part of speech that form bridges between individual words and sentences. Readers who experience success with phrases often feel confident about

reading connected sentences. The teacher reads a prompt, circle the word tumbling in ‘tumbling on the floor’. The student must carefully and attentively read both phrases. Success

with this activity often brings smiles to readers’ faces.

Build Phrases into Sentences

Near the end of the lesson, the student has gone from playing with words, to reading and manipulating words and phrases. The next step is to combine words into sentences. Students see three sets of sentences with the phrases out of order. They first put

the words in order orally, then write them down.


Develop Fluency with Phrases

Every lesson in STaRS ends with fluency practice tied to the words and phrases practiced beforehand. Phrases are also a big part of fluency, moving readers from word-by-word reading towards fluent sentence reading. The teacher simply says, “Read each group of words smoothly, pausing briefly at each hyphen mark. Then read each line again without pausing.” A motivational reading practice.

Prosody - Reading with Expression

Reading with expression, or prosody, is another aspect of speech that translates to deeper reading experiences. When we speak sentences, we emphasize different words to express meaning more clearly. This activity just has readers emphasizing different words in a sentence. In addition to proving repeated reading practice – a big factor in fluency – students learn how to NOT read like robots.

bottom of page