Contact Dr. Cupp
Online Newsletter
Newsletter Archive
Classroom Sets
Price List
Order Form
Before Readiness
Sample Lesson Plans
Research Results
Company Background
Resource Links
Tribute to a Veteran

Be sure and read our archived online newsletters...

November Newsletter

by Dr. Cindy Cupp

Dear Parents and Teachers,

Welcome to the November 2004 Online Newsletter.  We are thrilled to report a record- breaking month for schools participating in our free Monthly Update.  Section One of this Newsletter is the data collected for the October Newsletter.  Click here after November 8 and you will see the data reported from schools participating in the October Monthly Updates.

Don’t forget to submit your one page application for the Jack and Jilly Gold Star Classroom!  I would like to feature your students in next month’s newsletter.  Please see Section Two for details.

This month’s newsletter focuses on Teaching Tips for improving instruction in Dr. Cupp Readers and Journal Writers®.  Please see Section Three for these new ideas.

Section Four will be Questions and Answers to assist teachers in moving students in Dr. Cupp Readers® at the appropriate pace.  During the last three weeks, I worked with over 100 students.  Of the 100 students, approximately 95 students were moving at the correct pace.  Five students were moving too fast in the Readers.  If a struggling reader moves too quickly, they will become frustrated.  The teacher MUST assess students in sight words, phonics, and fluency before moving to a new Reader.  If a student can’t pass the assessment in sight words and fluency, DON’T MOVE to a new Reader.

In Section Five, you will find the top activities from previous newsletters of 2003-2004.  Be sure and read about the Hop’n Pop’s Popcorn Party.  This was a favorite to use during Christmas vacation.

To Update your Readiness Teacher’s Manual for next year, copy Section Six.  This page simplifies the scoring on Readiness for the Update.

Wishing you continued success!

Cindy Cupp
Currently, President, Cupp Publishers, Inc.
Retired, Director of Curriculum and Reading, Georgia Department of Education
Always, A Reading Teacher


Summary of Sections

Section One           Link to the October Update

Section Two          Jack and Jilly Gold Star Classroom

Section Three       Teaching Tips

Section Four          Questions and Answers

Section Five           Favorites from 2003-2004


Section One:  Link to the October Update

Click here to view the October Update.

Cupp Publishers, Inc. offers a free monthly summary and analysis for all students using Dr. Cupp Readers®.  If you would like to participate, please contact me by email at cindycupp@mindspring.com.


Section Two:   Jack and Jilly Gold Star Classroom

If you think your class is an excellent Jack and Jilly classroom, please complete this attached application and mail the application and documentation to:

Cindy Cupp
5 Log Landing Road
Savannah, Georgia 31411

The application package must be post marked on or before November 15, 2004.  Winners will be announced in the December Online Newsletter. Winners receive the following:

First place             $300

Second place        $200

Third place            $100

If your application includes pictures of students, please obtain written parental consent for the use of these pictures.


Section Three:   Teaching Tips


A.  Oral Fluency Practice

If students are not fluent readers, the following suggestions might be helpful:

1. “Sing” Hop’n Pop - When students practice saying their words during Hop’n Pop, ask them to sort of sing the words. Their voices should not stop between words.

2. Tape record reading - Tape record students individually reading a paragraph from Dr. Cupp Readers® booklet. Students should practice the paragraph and then tape record their reading again.

3. Echo reading – One student reads the paragraph or sentence.  The teacher calls on the next student to echo back or re-read the text.

4. Buddy Reading - Students take turns reading the paragraph to a buddy.

5. Reading for an audience – Students think of a situation where they might orally read in front of an audience, brother, sister, etc.  Students practice reading and then actually read in front of an audience.

6.  Modeling by the teacher – The teacher listens to the student read.  The teacher then reads the text back to the student.  The student rereads the text to the teacher.

B.  Suggestions for Monitoring Phonics Instruction

During the last month, I have observed teachers following this plan for phonics instruction in Readers 1-15.

a.  The teacher introduces the new phonics lesson.

b.  The paraprofessional works with students in the rotation to provide practice for the students.  The paraprofessionals record the students' responses on the Form provided on the web page for Phonics Readiness Charts.

c.  The teacher monitors phonics progress by ending his or her fluency/comprehension lesson with students demonstrating their phonics skills with the appropriate chart.

d.  Students are moved to the next lesson when they know the sounds of the letters.  Students are not required to say the letter names at this time.  Students are not required to blend words until Reader 15.

C.  Introducing "big" words -  Great fun!!

Once you have reached Ten Minutes Phonics Lesson 3 in Reader 3, end each phonics lesson by selecting a word from Deck 33 in the Toolbox.  Deck 33 has easy two or more syllable words.  These are the steps I follow to introduce "big" words to students:

a.  Show students the "big" word and tell them that big words are little words put together. 

b.  Use your finger and show the students how to split the word in parts.  At this time, I ask the students to close their eyes.  I tell them I am going to do something magic....they usually giggle and shut their eyes.  I turn the card around and show them the backside of the card. 

c.  Students look at the backside of the card and we sound out each syllable together.  I then say the syllables quickly.  Usually at least one student can figure out the "big" word.


The purpose of beginning this early is to allow students to become comfortable with seeing large words in text.


D.  Don't hold students back waiting for either phonics or sight words

If you have a question about this section, email me your phone number and I will call you back and we will discuss this.

Dr. Cupp Readers are driven by sight words.  When students pass the Hop'n Pop assessments in the Reader and they are reading with fluency and comprehension, move to the next Reader.  If students are not ready to move in phonics, let them go ahead in the next Reader to learn new sight words, but return to the lower Reader on page 6 and 7 when it is time for phonics.


If students can move faster in phonics, let them move to the next Ten Minute Phonics Lesson on page 6 and 7 in the next Reader.


E.  Hop'n Pop Hints

Stop students if they start to yell their Hop'n Pop words.  Encourage students to smoothly move from one word to the next when they say Hop'n Pop.

Be sure and read the "kinder" way to play Hop'n Pop as described in the August 2004 Online Newsletter.


F.  Ideas from teachers using Dr. Cupp Readers®

Robyn Henry – Burch Elementary – Fayette County, Georgia

“On the very first Readers, I waited to time students on Hop’n Pop until I knew they could easily catch him.  Students experienced great success from the very beginning!”


Marcia Zatezalo – Burch Elementary – Fayette County, Georgia

“We have a student with long braids.  She held her braids above her head and the braids looked like the two ls in Jilly’s name.  This really helped some of my students remember the word Jilly.”


Angela Terry – Tyrone Elementary School – Fayette County, Georgia

“My students make a Hop’n Pop necklace.  Each time the child beats Hop’n Pop, he or she receives a popcorn shape made from cardstock.  The student writes his or her name on the shape and places it on a bulletin board that is called “I Beat Hop’n Pop.”  Whey they have ten popcorn pieces, they make a necklace using the popcorn shapes and pasta that is colored.”



Section Four:   Questions and Answers

Taken from the January 2004 Online Newsletter:

Section 1 – Sound blending

Question #1- I teach 20 kindergarten students.  Seventeen students easily sound-out unknown three letter words.  The other three students still struggle to blend the sounds together to make a word.  What can I do to help these three students successfully learn to sound-out words? 

Answer from CindyThere are many “fixes” for this problem, but students will need to have the following skills mastered before they can successfully sound-blend words:


Skill 1 Students must understand that the little squiggly marks (letters) on the page represent letters, letters represent sounds, and these sounds blend together to make words that have meaning. 

If your students are automatically making the correct sounds for the letters, but they blend these sounds and say a word that is nothing like the letter-sounds, these students may not understand that these sounds represent a word.  For example:  The student automatically makes the correct sounds for c at and then says something “off the wall” like the word mother.

During inservice training, I say these students “have not come to the well.”  I use this phrase because it calls to mind a scene from the movie The Miracle Worker.  This movie tells the story of Helen Keller’s life.  Patty Duke plays the part of Helen Keller.  In The Miracle Worker, Helen finally makes the connection between the word water and the hand-sign for water when water is being pumped on her hand.  After Helen makes this one connection with the word water, she transfers this understanding to many other words.  After “coming to the well,” Helen understands that objects may be represented by hand-signs.

In order to help students make the connection between letters on a page and words they understand, I only ask students to sound-out real objects they can see.  I use either the object or a picture of the object. For example:  If the student is trying to sound-out c at, then I will have three pictures in front of the student, one of these pictures will be a cat.

Before beginning practice in sound blending, I ask all students to name the pictures I have placed on the table in front of them.  I repeatedly explain to the students that they will be sounding-out words, but the words they are sounding-out must have a picture on the table.  If they then say c  at, they must show me a picture of a cat.

Until students understand that the letters and sounds go together to make a word and the word has meaning, they are merely going through the motions of doing what the teacher asks them to do.  Without understanding that print on the page represents something else, students will have great difficulty benefiting from further phonics instruction.

Skill 2 – Students must automatically know the sounds in the word he or she is trying to sound-out.  For example:  If students are trying to sound-out the word cat, and they can’t automatically make the c and the at sound, then students need to work on the sounds for c and the rime at.  I teach sound blending using onset and rime.  My Readiness Manual in Dr. Cupp Readers® gives details on using onset and rime.  Students must be able to pass the assessment in the Readiness Manual beginning on page 151.

Once students can automatically make the sounds for the letters, and they understand that they are making words, then we are ready to address other problems that students often have in learning to sound-blend words. 


Little tricks to help students sound-blend words

  1. Hit the WordIf a student is sounding out the word correctly and the sounds are automatic, but then the student flips the letters so that the last sound in the word is flipped to the front of the word, I ask students to take their index finger and “hit” the front of the word before they say the word.  For example:  The student sounds out t  ap and then says pat.  When students are asked to “hit” the first letter in the word with their index finger, this draws the students’ eye back to the front of the word and in many cases the students correctly say the word.
  2.  A Pinch of “A” In order to teach sound blending, I use only three letter real words with the short a sound in the middle.  For example:  I use words like rat, cat, man, pan, hat, rag, lap, sat, bag, etc.


When students have mastered Skills #1 and #2 described above, and they still have problems blending the words together, I will ask them to keep saying the onset and rime for the word.  As they say the onset and rime, I will quietly give just a “pinch” of the first two sounds.  For example:  If the student is saying c  at,

c  at, but they can’t seem to be able to blend the word, I will quietly say ca

I don’t say the ending t sound.  This helps some students make the connection between the onset and rime.


Question #2 - My students are in Story 8 in Dr. Cupp Readers®.  They could move faster on the phonics.  Is it ok to move ahead in phonics, but stay on Story 8 for work with sight words?

Answer from Cindy – Yes.  The stories in Dr. Cupp Readers® are written with a stand-alone sight word program and a stand-alone phonics program.  If students can move faster in phonics, then move to a new phonics lesson.  Pace your students so they stay in the Reader based on their knowledge of sight words, fluency and comprehension.  Students move to new Readers when they have caught Hop’n Pop and read with fluency.  Students may move to a new phonics lesson without moving to a higher Reader for sight words.

Question #2 – How do I divide my reading small group time?

Answer from Cindy – Think of reading time as 1/3 sight words, 1/3 phonics, and 1/3 comprehension and fluency practice in text.  If you have 30 minutes for small group instruction, then you would spend 10 minutes in each area.  If you have 60 minutes of small group time, then you would spend 20 minutes in each area.

Question #3 –  Why should I move as quickly as possible in phonics if my students aren’t ready to move in sight words?

Answer from Cindy – Once your students know how to sound-out words with short and long vowels, they will be able to sound-out a large number of the basic sight words.

If a student can sound-out the sight words first, then they will usually learn the sight words at a faster pace.  Example: If the students can sound the new word out first and then practice the word until they are automatic, it will take fewer repetitions to learn the new word.   Phonics is a tremendous hook or mnemonic device for learning new words.  I often say, “Give me a child that can sound-out words using short and long vowels, and I will give you a child that can easily learn the 220 basic sight words.”

Question #4 – If phonics is such a tremendous mnemonic device for learning new sight words, why don’t you teach them phonics skills first and then begin work with sight words?

Answer from Cindy – If you only begin with phonics and the text is written to match the phonics instruction, then some children will not begin to read without problems.  Many of these children will learn to read if you start with sight words.  For some children, sight words make sense immediately, and they learn them easily.  Some of these children do not learn easily if you begin with phonics instruction. 

While most of the children I have taught have learned by phonics, I want 100% literacy.  All children do not learn best by beginning with phonics instruction.  This is why I start with both methods. 


Section Five:   Favorites from 2003-2004


1. Hop'n Pop Popcorn Party Invitation - updated for this month


This party invitation appeared in the December Online Newsletter.  This invitation was designed to encourage students to practice sight words during school breaks.  Be sure to copy the idea and use it during Spring or Summer Breaks. 

Click here to make a copy of the invitation for your class.




2. Bulletin board idea for November - appeared in September 2003 Online Newsletter: 



3.  Power Point for Improving Sight Words
- Linda Severa, Tyrone Elementary, Tyrone, Georgia

If you would like to download this Power Point presentation, click on the links below. 
This Power Point presentation will take approximately three minutes to download.

Part 1

Part 2

The Power Point presentation for Part 1 flashes the Dolch Sight Words 1-115. 
Power Point Part 2 flashes Dolch Sight Words 116-220.


The following letter was sent to me by Linda Severa.  Mrs. Severa is a  paraprofessional at Tyrone Elementary and created the Power Point presentation of the Sight Words. 

Note from Linda Severa:

     I have been a paraprofessional at Tyrone Elementary School for twenty years, working with kindergarten, first grade, the early intervention reading program and the Title I reading program.  It has been my lifelong dream to become a teacher. My husband and I have been married for thirty-five years and we have three children and two grandchildren.  Since all of my children have gotten their college degrees, I decided that it was my turn so I enrolled at Georgia Military College and obtained my Associate Degree in Science in Education and I am now completing my final requirements for my Bachelors degree in Early Childhood at Mercer University,  I will be graduating in December of this year.  I enjoy creating games and hands-on manipulatives in order to help children learn and to supplement my income and also to use these funds to develop more ideas.  I am looking forward to living out my lifelong dream. 


Linda Severa

4.  Game – Vowels Rock

Students and teachers at Tyrone Elementary helped me refine this game. They also helped me name the game.  Preparation:  Teachers will prepare a card deck of three-letter words that have an “a” in the middle. 
Example:  cat   bag   man   tap           

Prior student knowledge:  Students should know how to sound blend a word with an “a” in the middle. Students should also know the short vowel sounds automatically.


1. The teacher holds up any word card with a three-letter word containing a short “a” sound. The first student sounds the word out.  The teacher tells the student to pretend the “a” was erased and the letter ___ was put in its place.  The teacher names any of the other four vowels.  The student must be able to substitute the new vowel sound and say the word.  Example:  The word shown is tap.  The student sounds out the word tap.  The teacher then says, “Take out the ‘a’ and replace it with an ‘i’.”  The student must then be able to say tip.

2. If the student answers correctly, the teacher says, “Short ‘i’ rocks.”  The student then turns to the child sitting next to him or her and names the next vowel.  The next child must then substitute the new vowel.  If the student is correct, the teacher responds with, “_____rocks.”  The game continues until everyone has a turn.  If a child makes a mistake, the teacher helps the student say the word correctly.  The student corrects the error and continues with the game.

5.  Game - Hop’n Stop

This is a game variation for Hop’n Pop.  Students work as a team to catch Hop’n Pop in their reading groups. Preparation:  The teacher needs a timer and a list of sight words.

1. The timer is set for the Goal Time for saying the sight words.

2. The timer is started and the first child goes down the first list of words and says as many words as possible.  If the student makes an error, the teacher stops the child and helps the student correct the error.  The next student then picks up where the first student was stopped.  The second student says as many sight words as possible until an error is made.  When the second student makes an error, the error is corrected and the game is picked up by the next student.

3. Students continue to say the words as quickly as possible until either the timer goes off or the word list is completed and the Goal Time is met.

4. If the students beat the timer, they catch Hop’n Pop!  If one student says all the words without missing a word, then the team gets a bonus point.  The game continues until all students have a turn.


Section Six:   Update for the Readiness Teacher’s Manual

To Update your Readiness Teacher’s Manual for next year, copy the attached file.  Click here to download the page update.  This page will simplify the scoring on Readiness for the Update for next year.



© 2004 Cupp Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If you are a teacher using Dr. Cupp Readers® & Journal Writers and you would like to have your suggestions or ideas posted in the Monthly Newsletter, please send them to Cindy Cupp at cindycupp@mindspring.com

Webmaster: Picture Perfect Productions.