What is Phono-Graphix?

Phono-Graphix is a remarkably simple, yet highly effective approach to reading instruction and intervention

The theoretical underpinnings of Phono-Graphix are logical, straightforward and sensible, encouraging its rapid spread and popularity among teachers. It is based simply on the nature of the English code, the three skills needed to access that code, and teaching these in keeping with the way children learn. 

In 1996, Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness set the field of reading research and instruction on its side with their research published in the Orton Annals of Dyslexia (the research journal of the International Dyslexia Society). In it they demonstrated standard score gains in reading 6 times higher than that achieved by any other reading method. Their research and promotion continues here at the Phono-Graphix Reading Company.

There are four concepts that comprise the nature of the English written code

Concept 1 - Letters are pictures of sounds

That is what is meant by the word "phonetic", that sounds are what is pictured in the written language.

The word cat is actually three sound pictures - pictures of c, a and t

Do children understand this? Yes! Children have a remarkable ability to assess visual figures. At two days a baby can distinguish his mother's face from any other human face. Children assess visual figures in the world around them every day. In many languages that's all we need to know. But in English there is more to know in order to render the code "phonetic".

 

Concept 2 - Sound pictures can be represented with more than one letter

Just as 'cat' is three sound pictures, boat is also three pictures, of the three sounds b,  oa, and  t

Can children understand this? Yes! Children combine and reuse figures in the world around them every day. They don't need a rule to recognize that

this triangleis a triangle,

this is a square,

and a triangle on top of a square is a house!

The developers of Phono-Graphix asked 40 four, five and six year old children what these pictures were. Every single one recognized all three shapes. Not one of them needed an explicit rule for why a triangle on top of a square is a ‘house’. Similarly, they do not need an explicit rule to tell them that the sound picture of 'o' in 'top', combined with the 'a' in 'cat', makes a different sound picture - the 'oa' in 'boat'.

 

Concept 3 - There is variation in the code

Most of the sounds in the English language can be shown with more than one picture. There is more than one way to show every sound. Consider the oa sound in boat. That sound can be represented differently in different words:

oa t

s l ow

m o s t

oe

o t e

th ough

Can children understand this? Yes! Children can easily learn that oaowooeo _ e, and ough are all pictures of the same sound, just as they learn that this is a flower , this is a flower, and this is a flower.

 

Concept 4 - There is overlap in the code

Some sound pictures can represent more than one sound: ow can be 'oe' as in fl ow n, or 'ow' as in br ow n

ow = f l ow n

ow = b r ow n

Can children understand this? Yes! Children manage this as they easily manage that this circlecan be a ball, a circle, a moon or any number of things. How many things do you think this could be? How many things can the average four five or six year old think of? The developers of Phono-Graphix asked 40 of them. The average number of labels generated was 6. Children manage overlap in visual images in the world around them every day. So they can easily manage that ow can be ‘ow’ as in brown or ‘oe’ as in grown.

 

The Skills Needed to Use Such a Code

There are three skills the brain engages to sort out a code with such a nature. Reading and spelling are dependent upon expertise at these three skills.

1. Segmenting - The ability to separate the sounds in words. To use a sound picture code one must be able to access and decode the independent sounds within words.

brown => b  r  ow  n

 

2. Blending - The ability to blend sounds into words. To use a sound picture code children must be able to push sounds together into meaningful words.

b  r  ow  n => brown

 

3. Phoneme Manipulation - The ability to pull sounds into and out of words. To use a code that contains overlap children must be able to try the possible sounds that a sound picture might represent. When b r oe n doesn't make sense, the child can slide out the oe, try ow, and get b r ow n

 

The Nature of the Learner

The nature of the learning child is that he/she:

- has concrete logic

Children are very literal. They don't think in rules or generalizations. To them a 'long u' looks like this and a 'short u' looks like this, and they will really be confused when the u sounds in super and put don't fit either rule.

 

- seeks identification

Often a child's favorite question is "What's that?". So when they're struggling to read b oa t why not just tell them what they need to know? "This is 'oe'. Say 'oe' here."

 

- seeks order and meaning

Another favorite question is "Why?". "Why does this make a 't' sound?" Because we all agreed to say 't' when we see it! Any other reason is an artificial invention, and is confusing to the child.

 

- learns best in context

Context is the the circumstances in which a particular event occurs. So we don’t teach the code in key words, or to represent initial sounds in words, but in the context for which it was intended - to read and spell whole words.

 

- learns best when material is relevant

We make the code relevant by teaching it as tools with which children can build words, using the three skills needed to do that - segmenting, blending, and phoneme manipulation.

 

- learns best as an active participant in discovery

Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget said, "The child only deeply understands that which (s)he has created.". Through directed discovery the Phono-Graphix lessons help the child to create a schema for the code that is based on its true nature and the way children learn.

 

Learn More

Share this page:

Related Pages

Phono-Graphix in Theory and Practice

Phono-Graphix Testimonials

Research on Phono-Graphix - Peer Reviewed Publications

Orton Annals of Dyslexia: Phono-Graphix™: A New Method for Remediating Reading Difficulties

The Research Behind the Phono-Graphix Reading Method

Contact Phono-Graphix Reading Company

Latest News

Jun 8, 2020

How will your school look in the fall? To help with your decision-making, Dr. Carmen McGuinness kindly shares this white paper 'Educating at a Distance: A Redistribution of Roles':

Feb 25, 2020

Sound to Symbol to Meaning Dual Certification Course:
Berkhamsted, Herts, United Kingdom GB
March 9-11, 2020
DON'T MISS OUT ON THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TRAIN IN THE UK AND TO LEARN FROM A MASTER OF EDUCATION, DYSLEXIA AND PHONO-GRAPHIX, PAMELA LORE, RETIRED HEAD OF MOON HALL SCHOOL, SURREY! This course is limited to just 1 or 2 more participants, ensuring individualized attention!

Feb 7, 2020

Sound to Symbol to Meaning Dual Certification Course:
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Virginia
March. 10, 17, 18 and 24.

Jan 28, 2020

So exciting! The first Early/Emergent Readers Certification Course for Phono-Graphix is being piloted at Northshore School District in Washington State! Staff will work under the mentorship of a licensed district trainer to earn a new grade-specific certification, through training and job-embedded coaching.

Jan 10, 2020

We've updated all the Diagnostic Testing forms. We've also created all new Lesson Plan Flow charts for both new/emerging readers as well as intervention/Grades 1-3 instruction! These new flow charts include the lessons as well as the worksheets and Parent Support Materials. You'll find the latest versions in the Member Resources, available to click-and-print or download.

Read All

Sponsored Therapists

Read Annapolis

Contact Angela Baccala, Certified PG Therapist since 2014, at 443-852-0385 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Annapolis, MD, United States

Facebook

Milestones Speech & Language

Contact Elisa Stein, Certified PG Therapist since 2002, at 509-835-4404 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Spokane, WA, United States

Jodi Sklawer, M.S., CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

Contact Jodi Sklawer, Certified PG Therapist since 2018, at 305-360-9999 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Boulder, CO, United States

Sound Strategies

Contact Julie Belmore, Licensed Trainer since 2002, at 541-380-2124 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Hood River, OR, United States

Holly Basseri

Contact Holly Basseri, Certified PG Therapist since 2002, at (408) 396-4456 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near San Jose, CA, United States

EdPath Specialized Learning Services

Contact Dr. Sheri H. Grace, PhD, Certified PG Therapist, at (336) 705-1763 or E-Mail for reading instruction, both online or face-to-face, in or near Rural Hall, NC, United States

Letterbox Reading Therapy

Contact Sara Lagerstedt, Licensed Trainer since 2006, at 425-591-6110 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Duvall, WA, United States

Karen McDonald

Contact Karen McDonald, Certified PG Therapist since 2002, at 617-930-3084 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Waltham, MA, United States

Peak Reading

Contact Birgit Semsrott, Certified PG Therapist since 2018, at 707-601-1861 or E-Mail for On-line reading instruction in or near Buena Vista, CO, United States

Learning with Rosie

Contact Rosemary Stirzaker, Certified PG Therapist since 2002, at +44 7913708868 or E-Mail for reading instruction in or near Walton in Gordano, Bristol, United Kingdom