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These parent-training programs follow three simple rules:

1. Keep it Simple -- there are only a few rules for parents to master that are based on the best available research to date.

2. Use Lots of Examples -- the more examples the better (develop some of your own).

3. Get the Parents to Respond or Practice -- the more parents understand (by answering questions in discussion) and practice using the rules (by role playing), the more the learning.

Coping Model for Teaching Reading


Donald J. Dickinson,

Sadonya Meadows,

Shannon Hayes


If children can learn to learn to solve problems (cope with failure), they will be better able to learn any subject including reading. This program is designed to teach children some problem-solving skills as they learn to read. In this way the children will be able to develop their own strategies, or to copy the tutor's strategies, in decoding words. At the same time, children will be taught to cope with problems by using the steps of problem solving. (See the program on problem solving.) We will attempt to teach the child only a few simple rules for approaching reading, although the parents and tutors can teach as many as they wish. We use only a few to keep things simple and not overwhelm the child with rules. The "Coping Model" was developed by Donald Meichenbaum.  He used this model to train impulsive children to "think" or reason before they acted.  We have modified his model to fit the coping strategy for reading.  Although there is both adaptive (problem-solving coping) and maladaptive coping, we will only focus on the adaptive coping.  (For more information on coping, see the Academic and Social Coping Inventory.)


Rule for Using Problem Solving (Coping) to Teach Reading

Show and tell the children how to use the steps of problem solving when reading. This can be done by:                                                                                                                                                1. Clarifying the problem when an error has occurred.                                                                  2. Developing an idea(s) (and simple rules) on how to solve the problem.
3. Trying out the idea(s).
4. Determining whether the idea worked and trying another strategy if the idea does not work.

Example of Using Problem Solving to Teach Reading

Before giving an example of teaching problem solving when teaching reading, three simple rules for reading will be given. It is assumed that the child has some phonetic ability like knowing beginning sound and knows a few simple words or phonographms.

Reading Rules
                                                                                                                                             1.Try to sound out the first two letters of the word. If that doesn't work, try the first three letters. If that doesn't work, try the first letter.

2. Try to find a word, blend, prefix, or suffix in the word that you know.

3. Try to figure out what the word is by blending the parts you know (sound it out).

4. Use the word in context to make certain that it is correct.

For example in the word "envelope", one would start with the first two letters (en), then look for a something else known in the word, such as "vel" or "el", and "ope". Then one would attempt to put the parts together -- en-vel-ope. Or it could be --en --v--el--ope.

Here's how it would work:

The tutor shows and tells how to use problem solving by taking turns reading with the child. At times, the teacher pretends not to know a word, tries to sound it out, using correct and incorrect ideas, and finally selects the correct solution by reasoning.

Tutor: "It's my turn to read now. 'Bill went to town. He went to the store. He saw his friend with an elope.' Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right. (Problem identification). I got a problem here. I'm going to apply the rules for sounding the word. I'll use the first letter e - lope. (Problem solving strategy). No, that's still is not right. I'll try the first two letters, en. (New strategy.) Now do I know a word or blend in the rest of the word? I know ope. It's like ape only with an o. I'll try that --en -ope, enope. That's not right. (Evaluation.) I'll try again. I'll use the first two letters again and the -- ope -- and the v -- and el. I know the sound for el. Here I go - en-vel- ope. Envelope. Now I need to check it out in the sentence. 'He saw his friend with an envelope.' That makes sense." (Verification).

Note: The tutor should demonstrate the problem solving model several time during a lesson and encourage the child to use the same rules. If the child can not figure out a word, it is permissible for the tutor to work with the child in using this approach, sounding out part of the word with the child.

Another Example

Tutor: "My turn to read. 'The big bug ran over to the boy. The girl looked at the boy run. Then the boy saw the girl looking. The boy did not seem to be disacted by the girl.' Oh. That's not right. I don't know of a word disacted. I'll use my rules. First, I try to sound out the first three two letters, then the first three, and then the first one. Di- acted. No, I'll try the first three. Dis -- ?? ed. It something dis and ed. So a-c-t is act; so I put it together with a t in front of act and it's: dis tract ed. Distracted. Now I'll read the sentence to see if it makes sense. "

An Example Using Phonetics

(The following is a report by Sadonya Meadow and Shannon Hayes using the coping model.)

An Intervention with a Third-Grade Student.

The first step was to define the problem.  Since the student was in special education for reading, we knew that there was a reading problem but we did not know what the specific problem was.  To determine the special problem in reading, we determined the student's reading rate and error rate and did an analysis on the word that she missed.  We found that she did not use word attack strategies often and when she did she would often use them incorrectly.  She could not identify most consonant blends, two-letter vowels, or two-letter consonants.  Also she did not know the silent "e" rule.  In order to keep it simple we focused on only knowledge of sounds (consonant blends, two-letter vowels, and two-letter consonants using the words in the Level 1 Hargis Word List.) We placed these on index cards and practiced them during every tutoring session.

Next we reviewed these same words using the coping model.  For example, we would have a word like this (point to the word 'has') on an index card and the tutor would sound out the word pointing to each letter h/a/ s/ then pause and say, " 'had'. (Pause)  That is not right.  Has that is an 's' not a 'd' sound and an 's makes a /s/ sound so the word is /h/a/s/ 'has', not had."

In this next example we point to the word "fish" to teach the two-letter consonant blend.  We sounded the word /f/i/s/h/ and said, "No that doesn't make sense, hmm.. 's/h/ goes together to make a 'sh' sound.  So I try it with the 'sh', f/i/sh/, fish.  That's it."

So you see how the coping model of teaching is different from just telling a student what to do.  You are not just saying "sound out the word", you are sounding out the word yourself (modeling) after making a mistake and then problem solving to figure out the correct way to sound out the word.

The next activity we would do in our tutoring sessions was read from the Hargis Level 1 stories in the Easy Readers.  We used the same method described previously in reading a words or passage.  The student would read one paragraph and the tutors would read the next paragraph.  The tutors would read a word wrong and act like we didn't know it and then go through and correct the mistake by sounding out the word the right way.

Before using this method, tutors and parents should:

1. Ask the teacher to pinpoint the major phonetic weakness of the student
2. Use only two or three phonetic rules at a time
3. Model (show and tell) how to sound out the words using the Coping Model using words, or passages, and reading books