Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wilson Reading System vs. Barton Reading & Spelling

I know many homeschooling parents are often looking at these two Orton-Gillingham (OG) based programs and wondering about the differences, so I thought I'd share these details for those who may be interested in hearing some thoughts on the two different programs. Either would work well for a student with dyslexia, provided they are implemented with fidelity. These are tools - and to be most effective, they must use as directed!

Barton and Wilson are both OG programs and both have their positives, however, they are at very different ends of the spectrum in both price and guidance. I will just list a few differences I can think of right now. . .

Barton is much more expensive, but the lessons are scripted and you get more support in the form of DVD training for each level and the ability to email Susan if you get stuck or have a question.

Wilson is much less expensive, but the lessons are not scripted and the support not quite so readily available (okay, well there's my fabulous reading group that has other Wilson users to network with - but help from the company can be a few days coming if you need it) If you purchase the Deluxe Kit (and this full set is what *I* recommend to parents starting with Wilson) it does come with everything you need including a set of "Overview Training DVD's" that I think are excellent for getting the gist of the program and developing a deeper understanding of the dyslexic learner.

(Do not confuse Wilson Reading System with Wilson Fundations. These are different programs.)

Barton does a better job of covering accented vs. unaccented syllables and explaining why this matters.

Barton teaches a student how to actually "use" a spell checker, Wilson just recommends the use of one.

Barton jumps into syllable division as it simultaneously begins to introduce syllable types (I think this can be overwhelming for some dyslexic kids - too much too soon. Level 4 is particularly meaty in that sense.) But so long as you take whatever time the student needs to "get it", it should be fine I reckon!

Barton does a better job teaching syllable division using the tiles. I love the tiles for this!! Wilson does do this with the sound cards, but the instruction for *you* is not quite as explicit as it is in Barton.

Wilson has plenty of practice via the workbooks and readers. The readers offer practice in words, sentences, and stories, plus the children get to chart their own progress which I think is very motivating. I personally believe this review and controlled text practice is vital! IMHO, Barton is short on practice and review in this respect.

Barton does a better job of incorporating "sight words". Wilson has them listed in the "rules" book, but there is really no reference to them in the lesson plan, nor much guidance for introduction and mastery of these words as you progress through the levels.

Wilson offers much more dictation practice, including sounds, words, nonsense words, and sentences for each step along the way. Again, I think this consistent and repetitive practice is essential!

Barton ultimately goes into much more advanced concepts if you go through ALL of the levels.

Barton seems to introduce material at a much faster pace (could possibly be too fast for some children). Wilson is more purposeful in scope and sequence, but slower overall in pace (often good for the dyslexic learner, but harder for the Mom who wants to hurry up and get through it!)

Important Note: Barton levels maintain a high resale value, however, be sure to buy an extra set of tiles upfront if you plan to resell it! The levels are cumulative and aside from level one, you will need the tiles from the previous levels as you progress through the program. If you buy used, make sure it has tiles included!

Anyway, those are just a few things to consider, I invite others to jump in and share what their experience has been with one program or the other via the comment section below!

Here are some additional comments from a couple other members on my "Heart of Reading" group. . .
The Wilson materials are great when I need more practice materials...I agree that Barton doesn't offer enough practice sometimes. Wilson doesn't explain things as well, and the Barton tiles are more fun than the cards. One thing I love about the Barton is that you don't have to use the script. The summaries in the side columns are fantastic. I also like the hand motions. My students really like the hand motions, too.
Just a reminder that Barton has extra practice sheets on their website. You need a password to access them. Just email Susan and you'll get one quickly. There is also an awkward little games section on their website, but kids are so use to bells and whistle type games that they aren't as much fun. The only thing I hate about the Barton DVD's is Susan's monotone. UGH! I could never tutor like that. I am all about upbeat and positive!

Hope this information is useful to someone! To see my review of All About Spelling click here AAS Review.


Trisha said...

I'm not looking for a new reading program, but what a nice review to help others out who are thinking of these programs. I know you put a lot of time into this. :)

I've added my e-mail to my profile in case you need to get in touch with me.

Is everyone still enjoying the turtle? :)

Leah said...

Hi, thank you for sharing your thoughts on these. Would you write a review of how All About Spelling was similar or different to these two programs as well?

Anonymous said...

I have been researching AAS as an affordable replacement for Barton. We have been getting Barton through our local University interlibrary loan and my daughter is starting on Level 4. I have been really pleased with the program and her progress. Unfortunately I may not be able to get it throught library and haven't convinced the education department that they should have a set on hand for their education students ;o). That would solve all my problems. REAL QUESTIONS, 1) Are the programs similar enough to switch at this time? We really like the wooden tiles and I need the instruction for teaching. 2) Is All About Spelling the same program as the Wilson in previous posts or is it yet another OG program?

*~ Tina ~* said...

All About Spelling and Wilson Reading System are two different programs.

Anonymous said...

I used the first 3 levels of Barton while homeschooling. My son didn't know how to read at all after Kindergarten and I used this method exclusively. Although it is very good, I don't think it contains nearly enough reading practice and the extra sheets you can print off are boring and tedious for a young child. It is difficult, because we are told you must use controlled text. But the controlled textbooks don't come until later (end of level 2? I can't remember now....) and when you do start them, they are not that fun. At least my son was not thrilled with them. Could just be him. :) I really think it is less about the method and more about the environment. I don't think it's possible for one mother to force the amount of practice necessary on a child with a profound reading/language disability. He is in school now and there is a whole team of people helping him. He has his teacher, after school help, a reading group, a reading tutor, a speech therapist, and a RTI teacher working with him. The amount of practice they can squeeze out of him there is so much more than I could at home. The problem is, they don't do nearly enough phonics instruction. They mostly are reviewing stuff he already learned but now he's actually remembering it and using it. Not controlled text, though, and I worry about him guessing and forgetting so much of the phonics he learned. I think that ideally, he needs a program like Barton WHILE being immersed in reading at school.

Anonymous said...

The initial review stated that Barton jumps into syllable division while simultaneously introducing syllable types. That is exactly what should be done in Orton-Gillingham-based reading systems (which is what Barton is). The purpose of teaching syllable types is to learn vowel sounds within a syllable, because syllable type determines vowel sound. The purpose of learning the syllable types is to not only be able to decode one-syllable words of various syllable types, but also to decode multi-syllable words containing any of the various syllable types. But as a Barton user and an Orton-Gillingham trained teacher, I must comment that the Barton system ONLY introduces three syllable types (open, closed, and unit) before beginning the basic syllable division rules. There are six basic syllable types, so that leaves 3 types that aren't even introduced at the point syllable division begins. By the time the Barton system introduces syllable division, 3 syll. types have been taught, so I don't see a problem beginning dividing words into syllables. Besides, one of the major tenets of the Barton system or any other O-G system is not to proceed faster than the student is mastering concepts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I wanted to leave a comment on the multi-syllable approach in book three of Wilson. The program teaches a syllable type and then moves to multisyllabic words using that syllable type. Then a new syllable type is taught (single syllable) and that is incorporated with the previous syllable type taught to make multi-syllabic words. This process continues until all six syllable types are taught. It has been my experience (I am a Level One Certified Wilson Reading Instructor), that students get a big ego boost when they get to book three (deals with multi-syllabic words - closed syllable). They are decoding large words (which is important to hem) and can usually help typical peers in the gen. ed. classroom decode words pretty efficiently very early into the program. This ego boost is so imperative for struggling readers because they have experienced so much distress over reading. I sometimes have thought that it takes too long to get to all six syllable types in the Wilson program, but I have come to understand that introducing one syllable type at a time and allowing students to acquire that new information in conjunction with previously learned syllable types is imperative. This was a great topic. Thank you!

Rhonda Murphy said...

Thank you for your post. I have a few questions... My son was recently diagnosed with what the therapist called "phonological dysgraphia." He is 8 years old and just entering the 3rd grade. Here's where it gets odd... he reads at an almost 5th grade level and his reading comprehension is at that same level. I tested him because the gap between his writing and verbal expression was so wide. He still reverses letters and his spelling is terrible. The therapist recommended tutoring for several ours a week in the Wilson $100 per week. When she tested him, his IQ was very high, but she said his phonemic awareness was low. He could read words on grade levels high above his own, but struggled with nonsense words where he needed to sound them out to pronounce them correctly. So, my questions after hours of research by me and bugging all of my homeschooling friends to death, are these: 1. Can I teach Wilson by just watching the included instructional DVDs? My friends say it makes no sense to them and they could never teach it. 2. Would you even recommend these programs for my son?

I'm freaking out a little (as you can probably tell) because I'm not sure what road to take. I enjoy teaching him and want to continue to do that, but I'm not sure (based on comments from friends that are having their kids tutored in Wilson) that I can teach it to him myself.

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Brenda McCray said...

If you want to really get some students involved who are into technology, then try Susan Barton's levels on the IPAD. Cost is about $31, over and above buying the kit, but I've gone just about exclusively to the app version. I am seeing increased self esteem by Level III.

Anonymous said...

Why do you not teach your son phonics? The lack of this is why he cannot read nonsense words. Phonics is not a teaching method, it is the information we need to read English.

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