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Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Third Edition Review by Donna Campos

Bonnie Terry, M.Ed.
Bonnie Terry Learning
238 Poet Smith Drive
Auburn, CA 95603
(530) 888-7160

Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills is presented as a fast, fun approach to improve reading skills. The program includes a Teacher's Manual, Mastery Charts, and a Student Booklet. The Mastery Charts are included in the Teacher's Manual, so that the components include the two spiral bound books. The Student Booklet is 45 pages, while the Teacher's Manual includes the 45 pages of the Student Booklet, plus an additional 10 pages of instructions. An additional 2 pages of Table of Contents and 1 page of Introduction begin the Teacher's Manual. The page numbers in both books coincide, making it very easy to work the included material simultaneously, as intended. Permission is granted to print the copy charts in the Teacher's Manual, but no other additional material is available for reprint. The 45 pages include the actual drills to be utilized in the program, only the Mastery Charts to track progress are necessary outside of the drills. There is a reference to using Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills, also available from Bonnie Terry Learning, but only as a suggestion for smooth transitioning and extended skill retention. There is also a one page listing of other materials available from Bonnie Terry Learning at the start of each book. The included charts offer options for various reading levels by listing a different number of word counts on three different charts. An example chart is also supplied, partially completed, to demonstrate how to complete the chart accurately. All 45 drills are listed on the two page "Mastery Chart" along with a one page sample Mastery Chart partially completed. A Mastery Guide Chart is also provided, listing a range of word counts appropriate for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th, and High School reading levels.

The technique of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills calls for only five minutes of time, at least twice a week, performing the included drills in order to improve a student's reading skills. Appropriate for use with all reading age groups, including adults, the program increases reading mastery while improving reading speed. The drills are organized using the phonic rules and combinations used in reading. Each drill builds upon previous drills until a student has obtained mastery of all concepts. The four components to be addressed for a program to improve reading fluency include: phonological, perceptual, automaticity, and access to a record keeping device. Phonological awareness is covered in Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills by incorporating every vowel and consonant combination in the English language, and review is built into the program. Vision perception is an often overlooked area of reading fluency and is addressed by utilizing spacing, visual closure, and left to right reading progression, visual tracking. Automaticity and the use of the tracking forms completes the program as students continue to increase the words per minute they read and then track them on the included charts to see their progress. Designed for all types of students, Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills offers a program that increases reading speed and improves comprehension as the teacher should move immediately into a regular reading program after completing the drills. The drill itself is fairly simple to follow: the teacher goes over the sound the drill addresses, students read the drill out loud with no time limit, then the drill is timed for one minute as the student re-reads the drill out loud. During the timed portion of the drill the teacher makes note of any errors, without correcting the student at that time, and then goes over mistakes at the completion of the drill. The results are then placed on the chart for tracking progress. When allowing approximately four minutes for the pre-reading portion and the one minute of timed reading, the entire process should take approximately five minutes to complete.

I am very impressed with this program. One page at the start offers an Introduction and Explanation of the program that immediately educates the teacher as to the process and calms any concerns about using the book. The short time involved did not overwhelm my students, and my nine year old looked forward to the program even though he has only just begun to read. My daughter will soon be in the eleventh grade and I hesitated to use it with her, but for the sake of the review I did so anyway. She has been tested by the public school system at a post-college reading level, and still improved her actual reading speed by using this program. The Mastery Guide Chart with ranges of word count according to grade level is a tremendous tool for generalities concerning expectations via grade level. The Daily Tracking Charts are an incredible incentive for any age and an immediate sense of satisfaction was evident in each of my children as they improved their accuracy and the number of words read. This is a program that will be used for years to come in our home, as even my husband intends to use it with my son as he gets further along in the drills. At first glance it may look like just another simple word book, but used as instructed, Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills offers a tremendous asset to every student using it, regardless of reading level or age. No bells and whistles are necessary when you offer a really great program; the improvement seen in students is enough evidence that the program works.

I happen to be a list maker. The included Charts are a wonderful way to track progress as the drills are completed. We placed the two page Mastery Chart at the front of a language arts notebook and followed them with the Daily Charts, but my son still preferred to have his chart mounted on the refrigerator for all to see. I would have liked a specific tool for each drill that would allow me to mark accordingly for any word that was misread, skipped, or repeated. A simple spreadsheet would have solved the problem, and did, as I came up with one on my own that worked quite well. As I was using the book with several students, I was not about to mark little pencil checks or anything in my Teacher's Manual, so having a separate form provided would have been wonderful. As a parent of a struggling reader, this type of chart also allowed me to pick up on some trouble spots with specific words and sounds that we needed to work on. The included charts are well done and offer tracking of all necessities in the program, but a timed drill note sheet would have thrilled my heart. We rarely kept our actual work time to below five minutes, as obviously, there is an adjustment between the pre-read and the timed read aloud portion of the drill. Even with an easily distracted nine year old, we never worked beyond approximately eight minutes. The technical time allotted for the program is five minutes, but it will take a few minutes more to mark progress on charts and discuss any errors.

If you are searching for a program that offers visual representation of reading improvement, the Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills from Bonnie Terry will do the job beautifully. In short spans of five minutes, your readers will increase their reading speed, visual tracking skills, and comprehension as you tie in your normal reading program after completing a drill. Every age group will improve with this program, and any reader, regardless of skill or deficit, will be able to track their improvement and increase fluency in a short five minutes a few times a week. Developed by an experienced learning disabilities specialist, the program worked well for both my learning delayed son and my gifted high school reader. The instructions are clear, short, and offer the information a teacher needs without any "fluff" muddling up the process. The tracking charts will help teachers see improvement, and will motivate students to incredible goals. Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills by Bonnie Terry should be a part of every homeschool, as it will improve reading fluency for readers of all ages and skill levels in a brief amount of time.

Product review by: Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2008.