I started making phonetic word lists years ago, when I was a teaching assistant in an elementary school resource room. I used the lists to tutor resource room students in the classroom and at home during the summer. I continued to teach in various capacities for many years. I received teacher training in the Slingerland® method and studied several other phonetic reading systems. I applied this knowledge to my own teaching.
Over a period of time I added sentences and stories to my original word lists. I searched for fonts that would make the print easier for students to read and for fonts to use as a handwriting model. I added pictures to illustrate the words, sentences, and stories. In some of the books I started using text that has the vowel patterns printed in specific colors to show the various vowel sounds. I used the books, workbooks, charts, and games that I made as supplementary materials in my elementary classrooms and I also used them for tutoring.
All of these materials worked well, but I sometimes modified them if I saw a way to make them work even better. In some cases, I've made more than one version of the same book or workbook with minor changes to adapt it for different age levels, experience levels, or aptitude levels.
Each year I had students who were a challenge to teach. As I worked with them I sometimes tried new approaches that I came up with on my own. Some of these approaches worked very well, and I added those methods to my lesson plans and to my books and other materials.
One year I joined a teachers' group that shared their self-created learning materials online. I posted PDF files for one or two of the books I had made. They were well received. The website only had a certain amount of storage capacity, so I used a software kit from the local office supply store to set up my own website to share my materials.
Whenever I added newer versions of the materials to the website, I tried as far as possible to leave the previous files on the website, too. I knew if people were already using the earlier materials, they may not want to change, since everything had already been printed.
At one point, the website software I was using became so dated that I had to start over with a completely new website design. I transferred many, but not all of the older files to the new site. However I received email requests from teachers and parents on several occasions asking for a specific book or workbook from the previous site that they really wanted. For each of these requests, I've added those books to the newer website.
Currently there is a mixture of newer and older PDF files on the Sound City Reading site. While you will probably want to choose the newest versions of the books, you may find that you like one of the older versions even better.
At some of the teaching levels, several different books or sets of books are included to provide flexibility. Here are some examples.
- There are a variety of different handwriting books to choose from if you want to fine tune your instruction. There are handwriting books with no lines for the youngest beginning students, while there are books that have lines for older students. Some of the handwriting books have review pages, while other books do not. Handwriting books are available on three different paper sizes. Younger students and students who have difficulty with eye-hand coordination will do best using the handwriting books printed on very large pages.
- If students are having trouble "seeing" the vowel patterns in words, there are books with color-coded vowels. But if you can't afford color printing, there are books with all black print.
- Some students do best with extra large print, so books with extra large print are available. However, books with extra large print require more ink and paper, making them more expensive. So books with regular sized print are available for students who are able do well with them.
- At the short vowel level, there are several different books so that you can adjust the instruction for a specific classroom or student. Do they need extended instruction for beginning readers? Have they previously studied short vowel words but still need a thorough review at the beginning of a new school year? Or do they just need a short review so that they can go on quickly to more advanced material?