Sound Partners is a phonics-based reading program developed by Washington Research, Inc. of Seattle, that gives students in grades K-3 training in critical reading skills, such as blending, letter sound knowledge, phonological awareness (the understanding that sounds in language map onto the letters of the alphabet), and segmenting. Students in Sound Partners also read carefully-selected storybooks that build on the specific skills taught during the sessions.
When possible, we continue reading intervention programs into the intermediate grades (4th and 5th grades) with opportunities to hone decoding and comprehension skills in a small group setting two days a week, after school. This program, however, is led by an OLG teacher with participation by teacher recommendation and parent consent.
Sound Partners was found to have positive effects on alphabetics, fluency, and comprehension and no discernible effects on general reading achievement on beginning readers.
Sound Partners is a 1:1 program designed to be used for 30 minute sessions of tutoring that take place four days per week throughout one school year. Each tutoring session includes from four to eight short activities, which change over the course of the intervention. Instruction emphasizes letter-sound correspondences, phoneme blending, decoding and encoding phonetically regular words, and reading irregular high-frequency words, with oral reading to practice applying phonics skills in text. The last 15 minutes of each tutoring session is allocated for oral reading practice in designated texts.
Sound partner Tutors can be para-educators or other adults, are trained to choose a reading method (independent reading, partner reading, or echo reading) that matches each student’s reading skills (with assistance available through the developer). In addition, tutors are trained to direct the students to apply previously taught word-level skills in their oral text reading. The texts used in the program are drawn primarily from the Bob Books® series of beginning reading texts, which are matched to the phonics skills so that they are considered “decodable.” In later lessons, additional primary-level trade books are used for oral reading practice. Although Sound Partners is scripted, instruction can be adjusted to an individual student’s needs. Finally, the Sound Partners program includes tests that can be given every 10 lessons to gauge student mastery.
Through a partnership with Seattle Public School, this program is partially funded by federal Title I funds. Additional funding comes directly from our school fundraising efforts. This way, OLG can offer the Sound Partners Program AT NO COST to our students who qualify.
How do students qualify?
We base referral to Sound Partners on teacher referral and assessments like DIBELS, teachers’ assessments, MAP, and other tests. If parents agree and formally authorize participation, their child will be paired with a Sound Partners’ tutor and enrolled in the program for the year. Tutoring takes place at school and during school hours.
Becoming a Sound Partners Tutor
If you enjoy working with kids and are enthusiastic about reading, this is a worthwhile program to be involved in. While becoming a tutor for the Sound Partners program does have some additional start-up steps and requirements, it is a paid position and often with flexible daytime hours. So if you’re a parent or know of other family members, friends or neighbors who would be interested, please have them call us (206) 935-0651 or email us to learn more!