Phono-Graphix is an instructional method with documented success in remediating reading and spelling difficulties in students with diagnosed learning disabilities. Rather than relying on traditional phonics instruction, it heavily emphasizes phonemic awareness and knowledge of the alphabetic code.
What Is Phono-Graphix?
Phono-Graphix teaches reading based on phonemic awareness and knowledge of the alphabetic code. It is structured, systematic, and multi-sensory in design, but differs from traditional phonics instruction in the orientation of its core methodology.
Most phonics methods teach from symbol to sound.
The letter “a" makes the sound /ah/ as in apple, or /a/ as in apron.
Phono-graphix uses the inverse of this approach and teaches from sound to symbol.
The sound is /ch/ and it can be represented by ch or tch.
Why Does It Work and Where Is It Best Applied?
Children learn to speak long before they are taught to read. They are, therefore, aware of the sounds in words long before they are introduced to the letters associated with those sounds. When reading is taught using “sound pictures," Phono-Graphix presents the child with a visual representation of sounds he has already both heard and spoken.
Program authors, Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness, designed it to be used with young students just learning to read, or older struggling readers who have been diagnosed with a learning disability. The program is adaptable for use in classrooms, small groups, or for one-on-one instruction.
How Is Phono-Graphix Taught?
Phono-Graphix emphasizes that printed letters are visual representations, or “pictures," of sounds in words. To build phonemic awareness it provides direct instruction in three keys areas:
Segmenting – the ability to distinguish and separate individual sounds in words.
Blending – the ability to blend individual sounds to make a whole word.
Phoneme Manipulation – the ability to move individual sounds in and out of words
As each sound of the alphabetic code is systematically introduced, corresponding “pictures" for that sound are taught in order from most to least common. Students learn to spell concurrent with learning to read using multi-modality techniques to facilitate this process. They are taught “mapping" in which they say each sound in a word while writing the corresponding letter or letters. Both reading and spelling exercises are incorporated into every lesson.
Is it Research Based?
In 1996, the Annals of Dyslexia published the results of clinical research on Phono-Graphix conducted at the Read America clinic in Orlando, Florida. Eighty-seven children, ages 6 to 16, with reading and spelling difficulties were included in the study. Thirty-five of them had a diagnosed learning disability. After receiving 12 or less hours of one-on-one Phono-Graphix instruction students were given the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test. They showed an average gain of 13.7 points in Word Identification Skills and 19.34 points in Word Attack Skills.
Where Do I Buy It?
Curricula by the Phono-Graphix developers may be purchased from the Read America website. Parents or non-educators wishing to tutor with Phono-graphix will find detailed instruction on doing so in the book Reading Reflex which is available at most bookstores. It was written to provide simple implementation instructions so that anyone wishing to use the program may easily do so.
The ABeCeDarian Company also sells a Phono-Graphix-based curricula. Michael Bend, who authored ABeCeDarian's curriculum, trained in Phono-Graphix and later compiled instructions into a scripted, easy-to-use format. ABeCeDarian materials may be purchased from their website.