I’m pleased to announce that I’m ready to begin registrations for Multisensory Structured Language Education:
 A Course in Advanced Considerations.

This longitudinal course is designed to investigate, in community, the claims, benefits, and flaws of the field(s) known as Multisensory Structured Language Education, Orton-Gillingham, Dyslexia Prevention & Intervention, Reading Science, Science-Based Reading Research / Instruction.

The ideal participant will have experience with basic Orton-Gillingham or MSLE training and practices, and an abiding interest in deepening understanding of the English writing system. Participants completing course requirements will receive a super-cool certificate, but if it matters, I should let you know that LEX is not accredited by anything except your collective investment. The course itself should be approved for CEU credits by ALTA; that’s in process.

The year-long course is structured as follows:

  • 12 (monthly) one-hour self-guided study sessions featuring films, handouts, and exercises
  • 12 (monthly) three-hour online discussion sessions (90 minutes, break, 90 minutes)
  • Assigned readings and response exercises
  • Optional lesson plan consultation available (5-10 hours)
  • Optional practicum supervision available (5-10 hours)

So you probably want to know how much this jaw-dropping professional opportunity will set you back, huh? At this point, I’m not sure, but I’d guess somewhere in the $1000~$1200 range. Hey, it’s a year-long class! Lots of hours! Lots of resources! BUT the total cost will depend on how many people want to take the course. It’s a lot of work for you and me to figure that out, so what here’s what I’m offering:

I envision that the schedule will involve monthly online meetings in real time, although it is likely I will make use of some recorded sessions and other video throughout the course as well. These meetings are best scheduled in advance with make-up dates (that means scheduling a total of 24 dates over the course of the year).  We may schedule just 3 or 4 months at a time.

I’m anticipating that we’ll start in late August or early September. That’s a loaded time of year for educators, I know, but it allows us to stay ahead of the holiday curve, and it allows us to go with the academic flow.

I’m really looking forward to this conversation.

LEXinar Advanced OG

My silence here over the last five months does not betray any kind of real silence in my life, work or otherwise. Things have been moving quickly. I’m always pretty active on my Facebook page. I’ve finalized a divorce and all its staggering attendant paperwork. I’ve moved people and things into and out of my house. Picked berries and weeded. Worked like crazy on my new InSight Words deck (almost ready!). Worked to find my left foot and heal an injury that’s half as old as I am. Published an essay. Took a hiatus from tutoring. And more.

So now the wheels are in  motion for summer courses. Coming up are LEXinars on the International Phonetic Alphabet (June) and the NEW Stress and the Schwa (July). I have interest in Syllables: Fact and Fiction and Old English for Orthographers as well. Doug Harper is available to join me for Etymonline Online.

Live seminars include both greater Chicago and greater Philadelphia in July. Early Bird registration dates are quickly approaching, so grab a colleague and get registered. Philly has online options available as well.

Starting in the fall, I’m planning two longitudinal online courses. One will be an “Advanced Orton-Gillingham” LEXinar, addressing topics including morphology and etymology, but also comprehension, fluency, assessment and diagnosis, and professional standards and ethics. I was an Advanced OG trainer for a decade; I’m still certified. This course, however, rather than being focused on lesson plans and a scope and sequence, will be a deep study of these topics through the lens of word history, word structure, and the history and structure of literacy education. Ideally for scholars with some OG training, preferably certification, this course will include a supervised practicum option.

The second longitudinal course will be built around my dissertation, Spelling Stories and Spelling Science: How English Orthography Works. I’ll write; you’ll read; we’ll meet and discuss. Both of these courses include handouts and film uploads as well as scheduling flexibility. I can also offer payment plans; costs are not yet set and will depend in part on how many folks want to register.

Summer’s a good time to study. It’s hot and buggy out. Or raining. Or all three. Stay inside with your Internet and your air conditioning and join me. Or come out to one of the live seminars, connect with colleagues, and be a little pampered in a nice study space.

So get moving!

Inspired by my InSight Words, a friend and colleague asked me to give a webinar about so-called ‘sight’ words for the Upper Midwest Branch of the IDA, on February 23rd. Register online even if you can’t make it live, because you’ll get a notice linking you to the archived version to watch at your leisure. There are 500 spots available; nearly 200 have been taken in the first day of registration, so don’t delay. You know you want to.

If you don’t yet have the first volume of my InSight Words, you might want to consider amending that situation. The second volume is still in production, and this still available at a discount. I’m late, as per usual, because taxes and work and research and laundry. Everything always takes longer than you think it will.

Maybe that’s the best InSight I’ll offer you, but I don’t think so. Join me on February 23rd to find out.

Several days ago, a friend’s Facebook comment got me to thinking about the word pink. I like pink. And pink things. Probably to a pinkfault. I still daydream about a pink-rhinestone-covered stapler a former colleague had. I have pink pillow shams, lots of pink clothes, pinkish boots, a pink flashlight, and a pink lampshade. I can’t resist snapping photos of pink sunrises and sunsets from my hilltop home. I need a new pink purse because I’ve worn out the last one. I even made the instruction cards in my first InSight Words deck pink.

So the word was stuck in my head for a few days, which means it had to be investigated if I had any hope of accomplishing anything else. It turns out there are no fewer than seven different base elements spelled <pink> in English:

  1. The color pink  is named for the flower.
  2. The flower (Dianthus) may be named for its ‘pinked’ edges (perforated or punctured) — think pinking shears. Or it may be named for pink eyes — not conjunctivitis, mind you, but an early Modern English phrase on loan from the Dutch pinck oogen, ‘small eyes,’ — referring to the flowers’ appearance reminiscent of small, half-closed eyes. The pink in these pink eyes doesn’t historically refer to the color, but to size.dianthus
  3. The first hypothesis for the flower’s name, it’s ‘pinked’ edges, is its own etymological wild goose chase. Found today mostly in reference to sewing or design, this <pink> may be related to Germanic words like peck, pick, and/or pike, or to Latinate words like puncture, poignant, pungent, punch, and pugnacious.
  4. The second hypothesis for the flower’s name, pink [‘small’] eyes, works well as a translation of the French synonym oeillet, a ‘little eye.’ The Dutch word pink has a historical denotation of ‘small,’ and is used to refer to the pinkie (or pinky) finger, whence the English name for the littlest manual digit.
  5. The ‘small’ sense also shows up in the name of a pink, a fast, nimble little watercraft common in the  Atlantic ocean during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Spanish pinque and Italian pinco also reflect this Dutch derivation.
  6. Some folks say an engine knocks and pings; others, mostly Brits, say it pinks.
  7. There’s also a dated term pink that refers to a kind of lake (lacquer) pigment, but it’s yellowish and of uncertain origin. Go figure.

The pronunciation of pink is worth paying attention to: #6 is onomatopoeic, and #3 belongs to either one or another family of words that also kind of sound like what they mean: pike, pick, and peck, or puncture, punch, and repugnant (literally, something that ‘punches back.’) The word pink has a nice ring to it. It’s sharp and tingly and saying it makes you smile a little.

Pink has a straightforward orthographic phonology, too: it has four graphemes <p i n k> and four phonemes /p ɪ n k/. The phonetic realization of those four phonemes, however, sends a lot of folks into quite a tizzy. The /n/ is realized as a velar [ŋ] because of its coarticulation with the velar /k/ — the same thing happens in words like distinct or banquet, but few phonics programs address [ŋ] beyond monosyllables. The /ɪ/ is nasalized, and often raised by the velar coarticulation too, so it ends up feeling more like an [ĩ] — a long, nasal eeeee. That’s the part that makes you smile.

Traditional phonocentric approaches teach this and other velar nasal patterns as whole rimes (ink, ank, onk, unk) and giving them made-up names like “welded sounds” or “nasal blends,” rather than taking an accurate look-see at the orthographic phonology. Instead of studying the phonology of <n> — which can be realized as [ŋ] before a velar consonant — these approaches add to the cognitive load for each child by piling eight new patterns (including ing, ang, ong, ung) into the mix, and often not clearly identifying them as rimes and not as graphemes or as that phonics horror of horrors, “blends.” This is largely because phonics is so stuck in its misapprehension of the phoneme that it can’t deal with the difference between the /n/ phoneme and the [ŋ] allophone. [I’m happy to consider an argument that there is a /ŋ/ phoneme, but it has to present an accurate understanding of the difference between a phoneme and an allophone.] Another phonics problem I’ve observed time and again is the failure to differentiate between an <ing> rime and an <ing> suffix. This distinction is a non-negotiable understanding in orthographic study: the same sequence of letters doesn’t always bear the same identity or the same function. It depends on which word they’re surfacing in.

My spelling teacher (who happens to be French) always says that there are no coincidences. As I was working on this pink-inspired piece, I spoke with a colleague who told me about a 3rd grader she works with who has a very hard time with the inks anks onks and unks of her Wilson Reading System instruction. The child reads words with these rimes just fine in connected text, but not in isolation. I bet you a dollar that she’s trying to “sound them out” and is trying to string [p ɪ n k] together, for example, but can’t make sense of it without a meaningful framework. My question — my colleague’s question too, which is why she contacted me — is What in the heck is the goal of “reading” words in isolation if she can read them fine in text?

I can’t answer that in any way that I can argue has the child’s best interest, her engagement with language, or her lifelong development as a literate soul, at heart. The bloom is off the phonocentric rose.

The phonology only has structure in a meaningful framework, which word lists really never provide. The ways in which <pink> makes meaning are interwoven with each other and with our history.  According to Oxford, the use of pinkie for ‘little finger’ was reinforced by the color sense (#1), but of course, that only works well for pasty Celts and Anglo-Saxons, not across the English-speaking world. The association between the flower, color, and flesh is also reflected in the word rose (think rosy cheeks), but especially in the name of one kind of dianthus, the carnation. In late Middle and early Modern English, the Latinate words carnation and incarnation were used to mean ‘the color of flesh,’ anything from ‘blush-color’ to ‘blood-color.’

Again, this whole pink-flesh connection only really works, at least on the surface, if you’re a white person. Oxford points out that not all carnations are pink, so of course not all dianthus are pink. Likewise, not all flesh is pink. I’d say Duh, English, but the French did it first.

I’ve also learned from my spelling teacher that the study of the writing system necessarily and organically brings about the possible study of so much more. What does it mean, in a world where we argue about whose lives matter, that the historical association of pinkness with human skin is captured in our written language? How would today’s third-grader respond to the information that my childhood Crayola box had a pinkish crayon labeled “Flesh,” but hers does not? What might a study of words like white and black reveal to us? I’m not interested in this because I had some social studies agenda in mind when I started studying pink; rather, these questions are where the study of pink led me. Just in time for Martin Luther King Day and everything.

I wrote that. Then I saw this:
skin ffs

There are no coincidences. That’s not some kind of mystical statement; it’s an observation. There are no coincidences; there are the connections that we conceive of, the stories that we tell, and the meaning we make.

Tickles me pink.

Registration is now open for Etymology Four!
Register online  or  Download the complete flyer here.
Save 10% if you register on or before December 31, 2015.
Contact me for group registration discounts.

Single Page 160402 Etymology Four




Great news.

My InSight Words and Matrix Study Sheets are going to ship, and they’re only two months late.

As several of you know, these products were in development earlier this fall, and I sent everything off for printing on September 15th, as planned. However, I ran into massive formatting and design problems, had to learn a new software, and had to re-format both files more than once.

I’m not a graphic designer, and I don’t even play one on teevee. I have no secretary, no intern, no IT guy, and definitely no art department. I grossly underestimated the amount of production work these resources would be, and it’s set everything else behinder than usual. I do apologize for the delays, and your continued patience as I manage and organize shipments will be appreciated.

As people have politely inquired about the status of their orders, I have been blown away by the kind patience and understanding I have encountered as I explained the delays. Moreover, I’ve been moved by the gratitude people have expressed for my work, and their eagerness to get their hands on it.

Many thanks, and I can’t wait to get this stuff into your hands!

160402 Save the Date


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 674 other followers

%d bloggers like this: