By Tippi Rasp
Kindergarten teacher Jennifer McCulley is excited about the Lindamood-Bell programs — so much so her husband tells her she talks too fast and tends to ramble on when someone asks about the education program that is teaching her young students to read better and earlier.
Students use the LIPS program by the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program for Reading, Spelling and Speech, as a supplement to their phonics program. McCulley said the program is helping her students master some processes in reading typically not introduced until the end of the first grade year.
“I just think it’s wonderful,” said McCulley, who has taught for 13 years. “This is the best program I’ve ever had.”
McCulley is quick to show anyone the progress her 21 students are making with the program that uses the development of oral-motor, visual and auditory feedback that enables all students to prove the identity, number and order of phonemes, or letters, in syllables and words.
McCulley said by examining the way sounds feel on the students’ lips, they are able to recognize and process the sounds, letters and words.
McCulley and Kendra Hamilton, speech pathologist at Chisholm Elementary, are both trained in LIPS and visualizing and verbalizing for language comprehension, a program that helps stimulate concept imagery, attention skills, memory and cognitive development. The training isn’t cheap and can cost as much as $10,000 for comprehensive training, McCulley said.
Another Chisholm teacher, Amy Jeffries, also has attended some training, and other teachers plan training later this year.
McCulley uses letter tiles and photos of mouths to illustrate the way a mouth should be shaped when making sounds. Students are able to identify the feeling the sounds are making when they pass through their lips. As McCulley demonstrates a sound, students call out “fat-pushed air,” or “puff out air,” or other phrases that describe the sounds the mouth is making.
McCulley said the program has helped her students with articulation problems by asking them to feel it in their mouth and look at the pictures to position their mouth correctly.
McCulley said she introduces all 15 vowel sounds with labels to help them identify which vowel to use.
“My students are sounding out and spelling words like root, which, trash and joy,” McCulley said. “I have 13 students out of 21 who are reading books without help and taking accelerated reader tests independently.”
McCulley said the program even is working well with her challenged students.
Students can try spelling — and often come very close — just about any word they can say. One student spelled “plooth,” a fictional medicine used in a popular children’s movie. And McCulley even is pleased with the way students try but misspell words. For five-year-olds, getting close in spelling and sounding out words counts.
“Some students take it farther than others,” McCulley said.
By identifying a word, like dolphin, students use the tiles to spell out the complex word kindergarten students typically can’t even begin to spell. Although dolphin turned into “dolphen,” McCulley was pleased students were using the tiles to create the words.
“It is amazing to me the progress my class has achieved using this program,” McCulley said.