Megawords is a specialized reading program published by EPS School Specialty. EPS has long been my favorite supplier of quality materials for students with learning disabilities. Megawords is another winner. Created for students at a fourth grade reading level through high school, it provides systematic instruction in reading multisyllabic words. (Click here if you want to see how this program is aligned with current research for teaching reading.) If you are teaching a twice exceptional (2e) student with a strong vocabulary, Megawords can be effective at third grade as well.
The Megawords program is divided into 8 books, each focusing on specific skills in a logical order. Here’s a look at what’s taught:
To begin with, I recommend that you purchase the Assessment of Decoding and Encoding Skills. Although each Megawords book comes with ongoing assessment features, I like to get a really “big picture” before starting the program. The assessments will provide a solid basis for measuring growth as you teach with this series.
Each book follows a 6-step method of instruction:
Each step is designed for systematic and carefully sequenced instruction, moving from rules and word parts (syllables) to reading in context. The progression of skills is as good as any I’ve used. The in-book assessments are simple (reading and writing 5 words) and allow students to understand where they are and note their progress on accuracy and fluency graphs. Students are monitored by reading words in isolation and in passages. Based on research supporting the actual writing of words to improve retention, Megawords is heavy on writing. For my students with graphomotor issues (most of them), I will substitute verbal responses for about a third of the activities. I also supplement those “skipped” written lessons with activities I create on Quizlet.
Each Megawords book does take time to complete. Ideally, you would use it daily. I am using it with students I tutor only once a week but even at that rate, they are making good progress. Why would I use this program under those conditions? Because my students have not reached a level of automaticity with these skills, despite other extensive instruction in syllable types and other decoding practice. By definition, kids with identified disabilities are intervention-resistant. My 2e kids may memorize words and rules quickly, but forget them when we move to a new topic. Their recall and application of skills over time tends to lag considerably when compared to their short-term progress. Megawords ensures that they have over-learned skills, which is vital for this population.
Have you tried Megawords? What are your impressions of the program?