This Article is About
spelling
Barton Reading And Spelling Review
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

Barton Reading And Spelling Review

The Barton Reading and Spelling System is a multi-sensory program that was originally designed for adults who struggled with reading and spelling, often due to dyslexia. Then, Susan Barton, the author of this Orton Gillingham influenced curriculum, adapted the program to suit both adults and children. People who use the Barton program do not have to have dyslexia. In fact, this curriculum will work great for anyone who is learning how to read for the first time, who struggles with reading for any reason, or struggles with spelling.

There are 10 levels in the curriculum. The first level starts off with teaching phonemic awareness by making sure that students hear the sounds that are in the words. Blank colored tiles are used to teach the sounds. The first sounds that are taught are consonants and vowel sounds. They are not tied together with the letters because it is important to make sure that students can hear the sounds. For example, students are given the sounds of short u and v. They would get a different color tile for each sound since each sound is different. If they were given the sounds /v/ /v/, they would use two tiles of the same color.

As the student progresses, they are taught the letters and their corresponding sounds using tiles. Susan Barton included tips for helping kids who confuse b, p, d, and q by using their hands. Examples: Put your left hand in the "thumbs-up" position. This is "b" for balloons. The "thumbs down" is "p" for pigs. Whenever a student sees one of those letters, they are supposed to use these tips rather than keep guessing until they have eliminated all the possibilities.

The tiles used from here on out have letters printed on them come in different colors: consonants, di- and tri-graphs are blue, yellow tiles are vowels, green tiles are suffixes, orange is prefixes, red are unit tiles. If you are not familiar with phonics or the Barton curriculum, some of those terms may sound a little odd. Digraphs have two letters that make one sound such as "th." Trigraphs are three letters used to make one sound such as "tch." Units represent sounds that come at the end of word and do not make the sound most people think of when they see them. For instance, one unit tile has "age." You probably thought that it sounded like age, as in how old I am. Instead, the "a" says /i/ as in package. Prefixes come at the beginning of the word, such as "anti" as in antidepressant. Suffixes come at the end of a word, such as "ing" at the end of running.

Once the student reaches level three, the majority of the books follow a basic pattern. Each lesson starts with learning one or two reading and spelling rules. Then, the student practices using the rules using the tiles. The student and teacher discuss it using the dialog that is provided word for word for the teacher and assumes the student will reply with certain responses- Susan Barton carefully constructs it so that the student does reply as expected. If they do not, it may be time to start that section of the lesson over or explain it again because the student probably doesn't understand quite yet.

The next step has the teacher build words from a list provided in the teacher's manual using the tiles. The student touches each tile and says its sound, then slowly blends the sounds together, then says it fast like a word. The student then builds words and nonsense words with tiles.

Nonsense words are used throughout the course because when a multi-syllable word is broken down, they look like nonsense. If you can decipher what a nonsense word sounds like, then you will be able to put together a multi-syllable word.

Each lesson has a page with words that follow the rules the student just learned. In the first few levels, students use a "frame" to read the words so that only one word is visible. In the subsequent levels, the frame is optional. The list usually contains nonsense words.

The next activity has students write down words on paper. It is important that teachers provide one word at a time since kids with dyslexia and other learning challenges often have a short term memory challenge, too. Once again, the words are provided. A list for a repeat lesson is also available.

Sight words are included in the lesson. Many of the sight words found in the earlier levels are explained in the latter levels (why the word makes the sounds it makes), but students often need these sight words right away because they are found in everyday reading. First, students read the words on paper. Any words that are unfamiliar to the student are written on note cards that the student will practice reading until they read them correctly three sessions in a row. These cards will be added to the pile of cards the student needs to learn how to spell. Next, students will write down the sight words from the lesson that they were able to read. Any word that is misspelled is written on a flash card. The student must spell them correctly three sessions in a row before the card is retired.

Reading phrases on paper comes next. In the first few levels, the words are organized into "Who (or What) phrases," "Did What phrases," "Where phrases,""Why phrases," "What phrase," and "Add On phrases." These phrases are taught instead of subjects, predicates, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc. They are logical. The student reads all of the Who phrases and the Did What phrases, then makes a simple sentence. They read all the other phrase types found on the page and gradually make more complex sentences.

In the latter levels, the student is provided phrases in random order. The student labels the different phrase types on a blank line that is provided after the phrase is read. Once the student is done labeling each phrase type, they make a sentence. Often, the student will be asked to start with something other than a Who or What phrase. For instance, they may be asked to start with a What phrase. Since the students get to choose which phrases to use, the sentences can be very funny to both student and teacher. We've had a lot of laughs because silly sentences are often created intentionally.

Next, the teacher dictates a phrase that the student writes on paper. The student repeats what the teacher says to increase memory skills before writing the phrase. Then, the student reads back what they wrote and the teacher asks if there is any word that the student wants help checking. Guided discovery is used to correct mistakes. Guided discovery is used so that the student will be able to find and correct their own mistakes when the tutor is not available and it is a life skill.

The teacher will place a piece of paper with sentences in front of the student. In the first few levels, the student covers up the sentences that they are not reading. This is optional later in other levels. In all the levels, students read to themselves then to the tutor. Students will mark the sentence phrases. At first, students will need assistance, then they'll be able to mark many independently, and in the latter levels they will not need to mark them at all. Once the phrases are marked, students learn that they can take a short breath or pause at the end of a phrase, but in the middle of a phrase.

When that section of the lesson is over, the teacher will dictate one sentence at a time for the student to write. The student repeats the sentence to build memory skills followed by writing the sentence on paper, reading the sentence to the tutor, checking for capitalization and punctuation, and the tutor asking if there is any word the student wants help checking.

Then, there are stories. There are advanced stories for people with larger vocabularies and basic stories for young people or people with a limited vocabulary. I let my kids choose which to read. The first story, the student reads to the tutor after the student reads to themselves silently. The second story is read silently. Then, the student summarizes what they read. If the student struggles, tutors can ask questions to get the student started and/or to check for comprehension.

Lastly, there are two worksheets. They vary in content. If the tutor is paid to teach the student, the student will go home with the worksheets. I have my kids do it during the session. I often step out of the room to get a drink of water or take care of my other kids. When they are done, we go over what was completed and answer any questions.

I often make a goal to complete half of the lesson in one sitting with my kids. (The first half is the part where the tiles are used.) My older kids have no problem getting through the first half in one session, while my younger kids have a harder time completing the second half in one session. This goal is really arbitrary because the most important thing that needs to take place when using this or any curriculum is to make sure that the lessons are scheduled regularly, at least three times per week, not racing through the lesson to accomplish a certain amount. To put it another way, mastery is much more important than finishing a certain percentage of each lesson in one session. Susan Barton suggests no less than 20 minutes per session and definitely no more than one hour.

One other thing that she recommends is that students do not read on their own in the first 4 or 5 levels. If the student insists on reading, it is important that the material come from controlled sources. This means that they should not pick up any book off the shelf. She has a list of books for each level that the student can read. The point is to unlearn any bad reading habits and replace them with the techniques learned in the program- otherwise, students may regress or stop progressing if this advice is not followed. Reading books that have only the words the student has learned will take away the need to guess.

Another tip I have for using this program is to place the students' pages inside page protectors and secure them inside a sturdy three-ring binder. Then, you can use the pages multiple times without making copies if you use a wet erase marker on the page protector and wipe it off with a wet cloth when you are done. I also use a dry erase marker board for the activities that have students write on paper. The kids like using these special markers and materials. The picture in this article shows my son using a wet erase marker to label phrases. You can also see the tiles that I organized on an inexpensive metal bar pan. I added a magnet from magnet tape, found in most craft or hardware stores, to the back of the tiles so that I can put the tiles away and keep them organized for the next session.

I use the Barton Reading and Spelling System as a part of my home school program because my kids were struggling and another curriculum was not addressing their issues. I never had my children officially tested for dyslexia, an official diagnosis is very costly, though some of my kids show many of the signs and symptoms. Even though not all of my children have exhibited any signs of dyslexia or any other learning difficulties, I have chosen to use the Barton Program because it is very thorough and students are able to gain life skills in reading that I would have liked for myself while growing up. However, as a teacher, I have learned a lot and now have a better understanding, too.


Street Talk

In the last few months, I'm excited to report that 2 of my kids have finished all 10 levels of the Barton Program. This program has been such a blessing in our lives. If you know someone who struggles with reading, please pass this on. They can encourage their school to adopt this program for struggling readers. Since the time I wrote this, schools in my area have adopted this program and experienced phenomenal results.

Reply
  about 1 year ago
Cherie1  

I have used Barton Levels 1,2,3, and some of level 4. I am finding -- in level 3 and more in level 4, that there are more and more inappropriate words, phrases and stories for kids. I don't want the kids reading about adult themes. I wish there were some different kid friendly phrases and stories. It makes me worry about ordering level 5 later on. I am homeschooling my grandkids that probably are dyslexic, and I am using Barton with them. I also tutor other kids. Some lessons only have one story or none that are okay to read. Other wise, I have liked using the program and have seen great results.

Reply
  about 1 year ago

Now that you mention it, I have thought that some of the stories were above what my kids were ready for as far as themes. I did end up having my kids read the stories anyway because my kids were older. On the tutor support page, they've provided kid friendly sentences that use vocabulary and themes that are more appropriate. Perhaps they are working toward including more kid friendly stories, too? There are stand alone books for many of the levels that could be used- perhaps instead of the stories that are inappropriate for your students. I appreciate your comments! They are very useful- I am happy to know that others wondered about the stories, too.

  
  about 1 year ago

Good information Rebecca some very helpful tips in there, your children are very lucky.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

What an informative article Rebecca, if only such systems were around years ago. Thanks for sharing

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thank you, Maria. I agree, this would have been great years ago. And your welcome :)

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Rebecca I have the greatest admiration for you to be home schooling your kids and implementing the best programs possible for their learning. I have been on a 'learning' journey with two of my children and appreciate the time and dedication it takes - of which I often fall short in! Still, it is up to us as parents to support our kids. Because of your involvement you noticed where your kids were struggling. I spent years 'noticing' this and not knowing what to do and how to help. My eldest son is so clever he simply fell through the cracks of traditional schooling. I wish you and your kids every success and thanks for the informative article. I know my daughter in grade 3 will really benefit from your balloons and pigs. She writes both letters on the top of her page so that she can think about it as she writes.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

I'm so happy that I had the help of other parents and mentors to get me started on the right track. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be using this program. I simply thought, for a while, that they'd be simply outgrow their challenges. After a couple of years of watching them struggle, I began to think that they couldn't do it with out more help and began my search. I wish you the best as you help your children through their challenges. My oldest son, whose name has a "b" in it always wrote his name with a "d" instead. It was at that point I knew I had to do something. Thanks for commenting. I wish you the best!

Reply
  about 2 years ago

I so hear where you're coming from. It's just a joy to help other parents when you relate to the desperation of knowing something is 'wrong' and not knowing how to help it. My son, Riley, and I wrote a squidoo lens on his journey called The Smart Dyslexic. It's had a positive response and our aim is simply to give others hope and get the word out there!

  
  about 2 years ago

Yesterday, I read the smart dyslexic, commented and liked it ;) Though, I have to admit that I may have commented with gibberish since I was tired. But I found it by doing a search on squidoo. I thought it was well written. I wanted to keep reading once I started. I was thinking, "boy, that sounds just like my sons!" I didn't make the connection between you and that lens until you commented here. One of the neat things about people with dyslexia is that they have a tendency to be experts in artistic fields, spacial relations, engineering, and a bunch of other areas that the rest of the population have difficulty. My kids really enjoyed the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan because he was supposedly dyslexic!

  
  about 2 years ago

Oh that's so neat Rebecca. Small world. I need to visit squidoo a bit more myself. I loved it when I was actively doing it. I actually don't like my avatar there but this one wouldn't work for some reason. I should revisit that again and try and change it so it's all consistent. Is Percy Jackson a book series? I'll check it out if it's something that takes the kids interests!! The first 'chapter' book I ever saw my son read were the Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. A nice selection of pictures, big writing and humour that has appealed to all of them. I agree what you say about the kids being clever in their niche. My son is awesome with lego, spacial awareness (as you mentioned) and lately has been showing a real talent for energy work (a little unusual for his age but I guess that's my influence). My biggest angst was that he would be labelled 'dumb' at school when it's quite obvious that he definitely isn't!

  
  about 2 years ago

My sons love legos, especially the one who struggles the most with dyslexia. They certainly aren't "dumb." Perhaps, they are misunderstood more than anything. I just wish that peers and adults understood that or at least tried to understand. Percy Jackson is a book series. The Heroes of Olympus is a series that builds on the Percy Jackson series. They does delve into Greek and Roman mythology. I was thrilled when my oldest son got into that. He has been so serious for so many years, shunning fiction, that I was thoroughly surprised when he started reading Percy Jackson. Prior to that, he preferred only documentaries both on TV and in books.

  
  about 2 years ago

Oh how interesting! My son loves documentaries too. We have all kinds here and both boys enjoy them more than anything! Riley remembers everything and he can expound the most interesting things!! I'll look for the books your son likes. Who know's what will take their interest but it's always worth a try. My kids loved me reading The Famous Five to them (Enid Blyton... we've read heaps of her books) and now I'm working through Trixie Beldon. They're loving that too. I know they enjoy books immensely so it would be a bonus if Riley would enjoy reading more to himself. Unfortunately his reading skill lagged behind his interests. He loved Biggles (by Capt. WE Johns) but the writing style and print size was beyond him. My younger son is inhaling anything and my daughter just taking off (she's in Grade 3 and just completed the program). I'm hoping we were able to correct her 'problem' before it all became too overwhelming.

  
  about 2 years ago
Joan S  

This could really change a person's life. I never had trouble with reading and spelling, but if I did, this is a wonderful program.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thank you, Joan. I think it is a very helpful program. I am glad that there are great minds out there who can solve problems, or make challenges easier like Susan Barton and other people have.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Wow. Very informative. Learning to read and spell is a mystery to me - I learned yet I don't remember how:-)

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thank you for responding :) I struggled when I was a kiddo, but do pretty well now. I think it has to "click" and for each of us, the method to make it click is different. I'm happy this is an option my kids had and that it worked for them.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

I'm helping my niece and nephew in practicing these for them to learn. I'm glad this worked for your kids.

  
  about 2 years ago

I wish you the same, if not better, success!

  
  about 2 years ago

Rebecca, Your kids are lucky to have such a great teacher! 24x7 at that:-) Learning to be, "Green" too with the writing and erasing. And the magnets! That's a memorable set of lessons jus in the writing and magnets. Rather than endless papers! You're giving your kids a great start in life. Thanks for sharing! blessings, Cynthia

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thank you for the comments & compliments. I do try to be green, but my methods help me to stay organized (like you said, no endless papers) which is even more important to me right now. Have a great day!

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Organized green!

  
  about 2 years ago

I like that ;) You just coined a new phrase. Wonder if it will catch on?

  
  about 2 years ago

I wish this stuff was around 40 years ago. Good article.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thank you for commenting. It would have helped me a lot, too. I had a very hard time with reading when I was in school.

Reply
  about 2 years ago
Lemuel  

Great material, and definitely helpful to those struggling with reading and spelling. It's better now that it's designed for both adults and children because more people can benefit from it. Thanks Rebecca.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Sure thing, Lemuel. I find the program's adaptations for both young and old very helpful because adults don't feel like the tutor is talking down to them (a lot of people with dyslexia have high intellects) and the vocabulary isn't too difficult for youngsters. Thank you for commenting and the compliments.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

I am with Rob, oh how this would have helped.

Reply
  about 2 years ago

Thanks for reading and commenting. That is a great question. I guess we'll only be able to guess how it would have helped us. As for today's generation, there are many success stories for kids who used this program after struggling with other methods.

Reply
  about 2 years ago
You May Also Like
People Talk Public Personal Contact
This will be short. We all get up in the morning. We all do our thing to start the day. We all go our, get in our cars, walk, catch the bus, to go to where ever we go at the start of our day. Guess things never change. But,…
By: ron atkinson in  Relationships  >  Friendship   May 04, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

EPS Vocabulary From Classical Roots Review
My oldest son is in sixth grade. We have taught him from a more than one vocabulary curriculum over the years. However, now that his reading is getting more complex- for fun, he is reading from the Lord of Rings Trilogy right now- I decided that it was a great…
By:  in  Book Reviews  >  Home School Curriculum   Mar 29, 2012  
10
  Likes: 8

Vocabulary Workshop Review
My fourth and fifth graders use the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop by Jerome Shostak. There is more than one series available. We choose the 2005-2006 version that has color levels. The 2011 series also has color levels. The colors are purple, green, orange, and blue for elementary grades 3-5 respectively. What…
By:  in  Book Reviews  >  Home School Curriculum   Mar 28, 2012  
17
  Likes: 8

Article Views: 5272    Report this Article