Meaning, Structure, Visual clues

reading blogWhen we are looking at how children solve words we are looking for 3 different ways that words can be worked out.

Is the student using meaning?

Is the student using structure?

Is the student using the look of the word- visual information?

Ideally the student will be using meaning, structure and the look of the words. If he /she is relying on only 1 or 2 of them, the teacher / parent should encourage him / her to use the missing clue.

MEANING:  Does it make sense?

The student uses clues in the story and his knowledge about the topic to predict / guess what will come next.

An example of a student who is mainly using meaning:thinking

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mama Bear’s scarf went flying away in the windy weather.

The sentence made sense and sounded right, but he was not carefully checking the look of  ALL the words.

An example of a student who is NOT using meaning:

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mother Bear’s bed scarf went fling away in the wid.

The errors look similar but it does not makes sense.

If your child is mainly relying on meaning, it will be beneficial to prompt him to use what he knows about letters and sounds, e.g. c-a-t and parts of words, e.g. st-ay-ed.

STRUCTURE: Does it sound right?

The student predicts / anticipates what will come next based on her speaking knowledge of her language.

An example of a student who is using structure:ear

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mother Bear’s red scarf was flying away in the wind.

The error did not look completely right but it made sense and we could say it that way.

An example of a student who is NOT using structure:

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mother Bear red scarf wented flying away in the wind.

The student did not notice that Bear, without the final s, did not sound right with the next word and we don’t say wented.

If your child is mainly relying on structure, it will be beneficial to prompt her to think about the story, look at the pictures and to use what she knows about letters and sounds, e.g. c-a-t and parts of words, e.g. st-ay-ed.

Does it look right? What are the VISUAL clues?eyes

The student looks at the letters within the words to check if the letters could match the way the word sounds.

An example of a student who is mainly using the look of the word:

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mother Bear’s red scerf went flying away in the windy.

The mistakes looked similar to the correct words but did not make sense or sound right.

An example of a student who is NOT using the look of the words:

Text:         Mother Bear’s red scarf went flying away in the wind.
Student:  Mother Bear’s beautiful scarf came off the clothesline.

The student is using meaning and structure but he is not checking the look of all the words.

If your child is mainly relying on the look of the word, it will be beneficial to prompt him to think about the story, look at the pictures, and to think about what would sound right in that place in the sentence.

Prompts to encourage the use of meaning:help1
Look at the picture to help you. What can you see?
Check the picture. Does that make sense?
Let’s stop to think about the story.  What’s happening right now?
What do you think will happen next?
When you don’t understand what you’ve read, go back and read it again.

Prompts to encourage using correct structure:
Are you listening to yourself?
Does it sound right to you?
Can we say it that way?

Prompts to encourage using visual clues
Look at the first letter(s). Could it be ____?
Read that again and start the word. (Rereading the previous words and saying the first letter of the unknown word may be enough of a prompt to guess the word.)
Look for a part you know. Can you say more?
Slide your finger under the word and check it looks like ____.
Does it look like _______ or _______?

For more information refer to this MSV article.

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