Kathy James tells us about Rime Magic Program & how she uses it along with OG:
An Interview by Dr. Sam Bommarito
I’m always happy to spread the good news about what effective practicing teachers are up to, and this week, there is even more good news. Last time I talked to Sharon Zinke about her Rime Magic Program. Like Tim Rasinski’s Fast Start program and HFL’s adaptation of Tim’s work, Rime Magic provides a lot of bang for the buck. As I said in my post just before Thanksgiving break, Sharon’s program gets big results relatively quickly. It is a program that works for both younger and older students. The program requires as little as 5 minutes a day and can be used to supplement any phonics program you are using. When I talked to Sharon, I learned that there was one site that was using both her Rime Magic Program and OG. That appealed to my centrist beliefs that we should be using ideas from all sides, and that is exactly what Kathy James and her district is doing. They use both Rime Magic and OG. Let’s find out how that works. First let’s give you Kathy’s background.
Kathy James is an educator dedicated to bridging research and practice in the classroom. She has focused her professional interests on literacy development, especially helping striving readers close gaps and find success.
Kathy has come full circle this year, returning to first-grade teaching in the Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, where she’s worked for the past 23 years. Kathy’s career started as a first-grade teacher in Massachusetts after completing her graduate studies at Tufts University. There, as a graduate teaching assistant for Maryanne Wolf, Kathy began learning about how best to teach students with Dyslexia. Kathy has been a special education teacher, a Title 1 reading specialist, and for the five years before this, her district’s Literacy Coach. As a coach, she had the honor of working with the Ohio Writing Project at Miami University, Ohio. Kathy believes that intentional writing instruction for writing’s sake is a critical element of literacy instruction for all learners.
When a reading specialist introduced Kathy to Sharon Zinke’s onset-rime approach to phonics instruction five years ago, Kathy knew it was significant – something she’d never tried with students. During the pandemic, while teaching small group reading intervention online, Kathy paired Rime Magic with Tim Rasinski’s repeated oral reading of lively, high-interest songs, poems, tongue twisters, and riddles. The combination of Rime Magic and Rasinski’s scaffolded fluency practices has proved to be an engaging and powerful decoding and fluency accelerator for the full range of learners.
Here are the timed stamped talking points from the interview (so, you can go to the sections that interest you the most first):
Here is a link to the interview on YouTube:
Resources from Kathy
- Sharon Zinke’s YouTube Channel – HERE
- Timothy Rasinski – The MegaBook of Fluency – HERE
- Timothy Rasinski – Fast Start for Early Readers – HERE
- David Kilpatrick – Equipped for Reading Success – HERE
Related Resources were provided by Sharon in a previous post.
Sharon’s book (note: The Teachers Guide to her resource kit contains an updated version of all the information in this book, so if you get her kit, you won’t need this book) LINK
Sharon’s Rime Magic Resource Kit LINK
The Rime Magic System
Rime Magic is a completely different, highly engaging approach to phonics instruction. It is not about memorizing letters and sounds in a sequence for mastery. Rather it is daily immersion in an array of phonic elements each day, starting with regular two-letter, short vowel rimes and moving on to less regular patterns. Students naturally focus on what they are ready to grasp and experience each success as they are ready for it. They experience power over their own learning, and confidence blooms. Learning happens very quickly because students are swept up in the rhythm and are given only positive responses by the teacher. Slipped in for five minutes next to any phonics or reading program, Rime Magic is a phonics and fluency accelerator.
Although there are seven steps in Rime Magic, only Steps 4 and 5 are done each day; Steps 1-3 are done only on the first day to introduce Rime Magic to the students. Step 6 follows when students have mastered Steps 4 and 5. Step 7 is for students (grade 3 and above) who have difficulty blending and/or have letter confusion.
Steps 4 and 5 are done each day (whole class or small group) for a total of less than 10 minutes, followed by lots of repeated reading material that is of interest to students.
Note: You might notice that one of the students begins each rime with /h/. I ignore it because he will be immersed in Rime Magic each day and will discover it on his own, when he is ready.
LINK TO SHARON’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
A link to a Google Documents folder
The folder contains additional information, including a blog post about Rime Magic authored by K. James for Tim Rasinski and the Rime Magic Pilot Report, which provides data demonstrating the effectiveness of the project. Sharon’s website also includes other reports about the effectiveness of the project.
As a centrist, LINK, I reject one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, I advocate for using good research-based ideas from folks of many points of view. Kathy and her district are putting that idea into practice.
She doesn’t call for replacing the direct instruction phonics programs. Instead, she calls for using this in addition to the direct, explicit instruction provided by OG. She has documented that as little as 5 minutes a day of this approach can significantly affect children’s ability to decode. This is true for children of all ages. Now consider these comments from Kathy provided in our post-interview interchanges:
A SPECIAL NOTE FROM KATHY:
“I am eager to convey to colleagues everywhere that combining 5-8 minutes of Rime Magic instruction alongside any existing curriculum, with 15-20 minutes of repeated oral reading, drawing from Timothy Rasinski’s resources, is an artful, authentic, and engaging method for accelerating decoding and fluency. It works quickly for the full range of learners. Students who struggle gain confidence and want to read! “
Remember that while programs like OG and LTRS have had some success in providing teacher knowledge of phonics, they have been unable to demonstrate that the students learn and use and apply that knowledge. In a nutshell, they have been unable to demonstrate that those programs “teach to transfer” the skills taught. Consider these findings from What Works Clearinghouse LINK.
What Kathy and her district have demonstrated is that by adding Rime Majic and activities inspired by Tim Rasinski’s work, they can have a very positive impact on all aspects of their students’ reading. They are getting the teach-to-transfer aspect built into their program. In the near future, I’ll be writing more about The Pioneer Valley Webinar and their reports about the use of Tim Rasinski’s ideas on how to teach decoding (prosody!). I’ve put a link to that webinar at the end of the blog post. In addition, just this week, I took one of the HFL training courses on how to teach prosody. Yep, I really did say how to teach prosody. As first reported during the webinar, HFL has adapted Rasinski’s work on how to teach intonation and phrasing. The results are astounding. You’ll be hearing much more about that in my upcoming posts.
Happy Reading and Writing!
Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka, the guy in the center taking flak from all sides)
Copyright 2023 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely this author’s views and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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Link to the Pioneer Valley Books webinar, which features Tim Rasinski LINK
NOTE- You need to be in Vimeo to view this webinar. If you do not already have a Vimeo account. Here is the link to set one up for free LINK. When you get to the site, click the Join for Free tab.