The reading program used at MMS is called Phono-Graphix. It is a reading method developed by Read America based on rigorous research done by the University of South Florida in the field of reading. Phono-Graphix addresses blending, segmenting, code knowledge, auditory processing, multi-syllable management, and word analysis. This program provides lower elementary students with a decoding method that presents the units of sounds ("sound pictures") that are contained in words. A sound picture is a letter or group of letters representing a single sound. Unlike phonics, which teaches letter sounds in isolation, Phono-Graphix always teaches them in words so meaning is learned simultaneously. Phono-Graphix also sets the stage for spelling proficiency. At the beginning of each school year, every first, second, and third grade student is tested on the first four Phono-Graphix skills mentioned above and their ability to read passages. The results of these tests are a major factor used in forming the reading groups. They’re also extremely valuable in following the individual progress of each child. The reading/literature program at MMS begins in the preschool years, so the children entering our first grade class are usually well-prepared and can read simple books.
Montessori elementary teachers are trained and qualified to teach reading to their students. Many other contemporary and complementary programs are incorporated into Millhopper Montessori's reading curriculum, including Scholastic Reading Assessment (S.R.A.), Reading Counts, Phono-Graphix, and Junior Great Books. In addition to the reading activities provided in class, students benefit from direct instruction from a reading teacher/therapist. Our Reading Therapist works daily with individual reading groups. She works on code knowledge, decoding skills, multi-syllable management, word analysis, vocabulary, comprehension. and expression using a variety of book styles to interest and challenge students. First and second graders have daily, formal reading group time in half-hour sessions. Third grade students attend twice a week according to their reading level. The books chosen for class discussion are tailored to each individual reading group.
Students of the first through third grades check out books from the Reading Room weekly. The selections include fiction and nonfiction and cover a variety of genres. Upon completion of a book, the student takes a computerized comprehension quiz on Reading Counts. For those having reading difficulty, some books are available in audio format.