What is a rocket card?

Sometimes students return to school after the holidays reading slower than they were before the missed lessons. If I think that a student is still capable of reading faster I might reach for a masking card.

I use a card that looks like a rocket.This card encourages the eyes to sweep ahead of the words being said out loud. As the student reads a known book, I move the card along the line of the print (just a little behind the student’s oral reading, but at a constant speed). If the student is reading too slowly the card will cover the words before he / she sees them, and therefore the student is greatly encouraged to look ahead as quickly as possible.

Some students (who are very familiar with the rocket card) pick up the pace of their reading when they see me reach for the card. They realise that they need to speed up, and they want to show they can do it without my interference!

I do not use a rocket card on the new book as the ‘reading work’ is understandably slower, and I want to promote problem solving over guessing. (If there is too much emphasis on reading quickly the student can treat it as a race and neglect the meaning or look of the words.)

A masking card can be a very useful tool but it should be used sparingly and l would not recommend that you use it at home as it can be a distraction or a hindrance if it is not used very carefully.

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