Reading Pathways

Reading Pathways

Simple Exercises to Improve Reading Fluency

by Dolores G. Hiskes
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
5th Edition, ©2007, ISBN: 9780787992897
Softcover Teacher Guide / Answer Key, 136 pages
Price: $24.95

Reading fluency is essential, not just for students to be able to make their way through texts, but for them to have the vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and ability to make independent judgments necessary for academic success. Using the same basic methods of her popular Phonics Pathways, Dolores Hiskes wrote Reading Pathways to bring students to fluency, and to prepare them for the sometimes daunting but often very fun business of decoding multi-syllable words.

How Does This Work?

The layout of Reading Pathways is simple. There are three parts representing three reading levels: the first covers both single syllable words and simple multi-syllable words, the second moves on to more difficult multi-syllable words, and the third covers even more difficult multi-syllable words. A fourth section indexes all the multi-syllable words in the text and where to find them.

Each of the first three sections uses a pyramid pattern of instruction. At the top of every pyramid is an easy one syllable word or the main syllable of a multi-syllable word—each successive layer of the pyramid expands the sentence and words so that students are forced to read syllable-by-syllable.

The goal of the first section is to bring students to fluency in the 44 basic sounds of English. Each pyramid (one per page) at this stage includes a lot of repetition so that kids can become comfortable reading through several syllables; because many new readers have a difficult time with rapid left-to-right eye movement, these drills are designed to make this process easier.

In the second section, each pyramid contains one multi-syllable word, broken into three layers (though many of these words include more than three syllables). Two pyramids appear side by side, and beneath each set of pyramids is a sentence including both of the words in the two pyramids. There are three sets of pyramids per page.

The third section is modeled on the same pattern as the first section—one pyramid per page with a list of the multi-syllable words on the facing page. These are much more challenging sentences and words, but with the same emphasis on syllable-by-syllable decoding students should have no real problems reading each pyramid.

Hiskes stresses that students should not move to the next section before they've mastered the one before it. The purpose of this book is to get beginning readers visually fluent, because it is only when they don't have to exert all their energy figuring out each word that they can focus on discovering the meanings of the words they're reading.

Like Phonics Pathways, Reading Pathways can be used with students of any age who need remedial work or who struggle with fluency, though also like its predecessor this one includes elements (such as Dewey the Bookworm) which older students will probably not appreciate. Still, the content will certainly get them where they need to be.

Our Honest Opinion

This immensely helpful book makes a lot more sense out of Phonics Pathways, and will go a long, long way in helping students get to the point of reading fluency. The same use of diacritical marks, pronunciation guides, etc. means that students won't be confused transferring their knowledge from the first book to this one.

And while Reading Pathways will work best with Phonics Pathways, it's versatile enough to be used in conjunction with just about any reading program. The format makes this an easy-to-use text, one that will require no prep work on the part of teachers, and one that kids can jump into without fear in order to hone and improve their reading skills to the point of sight fluency.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Summary Follow-up to Phonics Pathways that brings kids to reading fluency and multi-syllabic mastery.

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