Letter Identification

Students need to be able to quickly identify all of the letters. Reading Recovery students use magnetic letters for letter and word work every day.

The following examples of letter identification are taken from Learning How to Learn Words by Noel K. Jones.

Magnetic letters are arranged on a whiteboard at the eye level of the student. The letters may be in multiple lines (an array), or they may be in a random group (like the above picture). The student is asked to sort the letters for different purposes. 

Sorts to focus attention to the look of letters – examples:

  • Find all the ones with circles, e.g. o a, tunnels, e.g. h, n, sticks, e.g. i l, etc.
  • Put together the ones that are the same, e.g. f f f f, and different, e.g. y u s p
  • Find ones with circle (curves), e.g. a, g, d, c, o, e, u
  • Find ones with sticks, e.g. b, h, k, m, n, p, r

Sorts for fast recognition of letters– examples:

  • Child pairs or groups letters which are the same, e.g. h h h   j j j   k k k
  • Teacher names letters, child moves them
  • Child moves and names letters

Sorts to recognize letters in various forms–  examples:

  • Sort letters of different colour, e.g. h u t r s m    l n b f d h m s   c h r b w d
  • Sort letters of different forms, e.g. g G g G
  • Pair upper and lower case letters, e.g. Tt  Uu  Mm

Sorts to help link letters and sounds–  examples:

  • Sound to letter: T says word, child finds beginning letter within array of known letters. Letter to sound: T touches letter, child says word starting with that sound

If your child has some magnetic letters at home you might like to try some of these sorts on your fridge.

More writing examples…

During the past week my students have continued to use their books to choose 3 ‘interesting’ or ‘special’ words to include in their daily sentences. The following examples demonstrate their current composing.

Student 1 is still Roaming. He was asked to choose 1 word to include in his sentence: Fat Cat is hungry and he scratched Kitty Cat.

Student 2 is only a few weeks into his lessons and he composed more than he could write (in the time he had) so I wrote the ending for him.
Kitty Cat is eating Fat Cat’s food and he saw her and he said, “Go away!” and he chased her.

Student 3 picked out 3 words from her chosen book and she composed a story that was very different to the original story:
I found a baby chimp in the forest and it didn’t have a mum so then I took it to my house and then I patted it.

Student 4 asked if he could pick a word from 3 different books in his box and he wrote:
I wonder if I could ride a bike at the forest to see a fox.

On another day the same student wanted to write about a very recent experience that was important to him:
The dental van was a little bit scary because I thought they would take out my teeth.
(He definitely did not need any extra inspiration for a topic!)

Reading and the Brain

I’m finalizing the Reading Recovery student reports at the moment so my brain is being stretched. If you are interested in stretching your brain you might like to look at some (or all) of these videos. The professor uses a lot of ‘professor type’ language so don’t feel obliged to keep watching! (It makes sense if you already know what he’s talking about… well mostly…!!)

Reading and the Brain: The 3 Cueing Systems by Dr Andy Johnson ( a Reading Specialist and Professor of Literacy at Minnesota University)





Eye Movement: We See With Our Brains

Miscue Analysis Eye Movement Research

More writing examples

This week I have  continued  using the same composing idea suggested by our Reading Recovery tutor. (See previous post.)

The students have adapted very well, and some of them anticipate that I will ask them to select 3 words from one of their books. They make comments such as “That would be a good ‘special’ word”.

Here are some examples from the past week:

Dad threw the ball and Jack hit the ball. That was good.

Billy likes bread and he is hungry. The bread was for the ducks.

Sam said, “Please stay with me”. Bingo did not run away.

Fat Cat crashed into the paint. Then the paint went on the grass.

Billy said he likes walking to school with Jack. Mum said, “You will be 5 on your birthday”.

Baby Bear sang, “Honey for tea”. He said, “The honey is gone”. Baby Bear said he is lost.

Baby Bear said, “Boo!” when he was hiding in a little tree house.

The goats ate the turnips and the bee came along and chased them out of the field.

An acorn fell down on Chicken Licken’s head and then Duck-Luck came along.

Max was going to be a wolf but his throat felt sore. Grandad did it.

The Billy Goat Gruff butted the troll off the bridge into the water.

The troll went down the river to a farm to eat the vegetables and fruit.

Here is one of my students holding up his writing book. He used to be quite a reluctant writer. He doesn’t mind the handwriting so much any more as he is keen to get his message written down.

So far the students have been able to view their 3 chosen words on a small whiteboard. 

FYI, mean (a familiar word) was used to write eat, and car (a familiar word) was used to write farm.

Writing about reading

Our last Reading Recovery Ongoing Professional Development session concentrated on lifting the performance of our students in writing.

Currently the students are mostly writing shorter sentences, and choosing easier words compared to those that they can read within their books. Our tutor challenged us to enable our students to compose messages that reflect the complexity of the reading levels that they are reading. 

One of the suggestions from our tutor was to have the student ‘write about reading’, i.e. to occasionally pick out 3 words from a recently read book and to use these words as a basis to compose an interesting piece of writing.

The following examples are what my students wrote the 1st time I tried out this useful idea.

Each student was responsible for looking through a book to pick out 3 ‘interesting’ words which I wrote on a small whiteboard. We then talked about possible ideas and phrases that could contain the 3 ‘special’  words. Each student surprised me by how efficiently he / she adapted to this scaffolding (support) for composing. I thought that they did a great job for a 1st attempt at including specific words.

STUDENT 1  (Roaming)
Ben made a puzzle. It is a dinosaur puzzle.
Based on Ben’s Jigsaw Puzzle. Level 5

STUDENT 2 (my go-to student when one on my RR students is away)
Nick and Snowy were playing on the swing. The teddy had to be white so he had a wash.
Based on Snowy Gets A Wash. Level 7

Baby Bear and Mother Bear went into the forest to get some nuts. The squirrels were hiding some nuts.
Based on Baby Bear Climbs A Tree. Level 9

The spark came from the mower. The firefighters put water on the fire from the hose on the fire engine.
Based on Fire At The Farm. Level 14 / 15

I am going to continue to use this idea of picking out 3 words for a while, as I think it will positively impact on the students’ vocabulary. (i.e. students may naturally use more interesting words in their daily sentences, even when they are not asked to pick out any specific words from their reading.)  The student is only reading 1 familiar book to free up more time for writing.