Taking words apart

taking words apartResearch has shown us that effective readers take words a-part, ap-art, apar-t as they are reading. These may be new words, words still being learned, or known words that appear in unexpected places, e.g. I can hit the ball like Jack.

Competent readers break words in many different ways so we encourage our Reading Recovery students to do the same. There is no one “best” way to tackle a difficult word, and children who are flexible in their attempts have the most success. Efficient readers do not read letter by letter (t-h-a-t) but rather quickly group letters into chunks (th-at). Children work out ways that work for them. Early in the series of lessons, Reading Recovery teachers model breaking the onset and rime (e.g. c-at, gr-een, go-ing) but we also encourage students to be flexible.

It is easier to learn how words work by observing those that are already known, e.g. Student A can already write Dad. He is given magnetic letters to make the word Dad and shown how to break the word into 2 parts- D-ad. Gradually the student is asked to break other known words into 2 parts. Any break is acceptable. The student is learning that words can be broken into parts and put back together. (Which is what we do as we are reading and writing.)

By taking apart known words, children learn how to look efficiently at letters or letter clusters (e.g. ay, ing, er, ight) within words. chunkingIt is important that their eyes are moving left to right across the words because that is what the eyes do during successful reading.

The writing section of the lesson also supports word analysis (learning how words are put together). When children can write a word correctly, letter by letter, we can give them opportunities to do it again and again more quickly. In doing so, children are learning to pay close attention to scanning all the parts of the word in order and recognizing those details as a pattern.

As you are listening to your child read, observe what the child is saying when she is trying a tricky word. Is she saying the parts in order? If she says g for dog you will know she is not looking from left to right. If he says d-a-y  instead of d-ay you will know that he is looking letter by letter instead of using chunks of letters that go together. Be careful of saying ‘sound it out’ because that usually calls for saying each individual letter. An alternative is to ask- Can you say the beginning? Can you say more? (E.g. st-op, l-ike, sw-ing, tr-am)

Also be careful of always asking the child to find a small word within a bigger word. It will work for words such as to/day, but becomes a problem when the child says the me within co/me.

Based on an article by Elizabeth L. Kaye, Trainer, Texas Woman’s University http://twuread5503.pbworks.com/f/JRR_8.1-Kaye.pdf  Refer to the link to if you wish to read more.

Taking words apart is also taught during the cut up sentence component of the Reading Recovery lesson.

cat-chMore information about Word Work The Reading Recovery Way can be found on the Useful Links page.

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