By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — For 10 years, teacher Jane Volden has used Voweletics to “put the joy into learning to read.” It is designed for home and school use.
The Lourdes Catholic School teacher developed the program which the school has implemented. Now Volden is ready to market the program to other schools in the United States. But to do that, she is vying for a grant from “Dream Big, Grow Here” for her marketing effort. She and 23 other Iowa contestants are competing for a chance for a $10,000 grand prize.
Volden said children learn to read through phonics, which is fine. But they often struggle with how to pronounce vowels, which can have many different sounds. So she developed Voweletics.
The program “attacks the hardest part of reading,” which is learning the correct vowel sounds. It simplifies “the process of using a systematic approach,” Volden said. By using color-coded charts to map vowel patterns and vowels sounds, “the variety of lessons teach successful word decoding.” The program also engages learners by using memorable materials such as songs, characters and more.
“The students learn to look for patterns all the time once they learn Voweletics,” Volden said. The program offers various worksheets for learners at different paces. Parents receive information weekly so they understand what is being taught and can work with their children.
Parents’ assistance is important in the classroom, too. Volden said each week a parent comes to class for a cumulative review with students. Progress is marked in a binder.
Voweletics includes a student workbook with whimsical characters, songs, phonetic word lists, games, activities for spelling with suffixes, consonant and word blending, and progression charts. Online materials include a 26 step-by-step lesson plan, video tutorials, audio files, worksheets and poems. The Smart Chart shows vowel pattern rules and “rule breakers.” Spelling programs and a comprehension kit are also available.
“Lourdes Catholic School students demonstrate great success with reading, writing and overall language skills,” Principal Jennifer Alongi said. “I believe the Voweletics program has contributed to this success significantly, giving our students an edge academically.”
She said the school is blessed to have the program’s developer as a teacher at Lourdes “helping us to implement this program with fidelity at our school.”
Volden’s website, www.voweletics.com, created in 2008, has been overhauled and launched this month. Her family helped develop a Facebook account and Twitter accounts in social media because of the contest.
Alongi said she was thrilled that Volden was applying for a grant and supportive of her effort. “One of our Faith Formation Board members asked if I would pass on the web link for our Lourdes families to be able to vote for Voweletics, and I was happy to do so,” Alongi said. “I contacted The Catholic Messenger because we are always willing to share the ‘secrets’ of Lourdes’ academic success with others in our faith community!”
To learn more about the contest and Voweletics, visit www.voweletics.com or www.dreambiggrowhere.com. A brief video about the program is available on both sites.
To vote for Volden’s Voweletics, you must have a Facebook account. Deadline is March 1. Visit the dream page, log on to Facebook and click the vote button. Deadline is March 1.