My new students will begin the formal lessons of Reading Recovery this week which includes doing homework each day.
You might notice that some children are very good at looking at the pictures to gain meaning and to ‘read’ sentences that make sense, but they do not notice that some (or all) of the words being said do not match the look of the words on the page. These students need to learn to look more closely at the print and to use it, rather than making up their own stories based on the pictures.
Often these students look at print in the same way as they look at a picture, i.e. their eyes search randomly from 1 spot on the page to another in varying directions. This is OK for searching pictures, but not for writing as we need to look from left to right across a page (usually with a return sweep) in order to make sense of the print.
Students who do not pay much attention to the print also tend to add or leave out a word or two per page. I encourage these students to point to each word as they say it until they have the 1:1 matching of spoken and written words under control. For a very short time I might point to the words and read along with the student.
During the lessons the students are shown to look through print from left to right in a variety of ways, e.g.
- Look across a row of magnetic letters and quickly say the letter names in order from left to right.
- Make a known word with magnetic letters. (1 letter at a time is given to the child in the correct order.) After the word is made the student slides a finger from left to right under the word as it is said aloud.
- Sweep a finger from left to right under a sentence as it is read aloud. (Or point to each word.)
- Reassemble a cut-up version of the child’s writing. (Word cards are in a random order. The child searches for each word according to the order of the original sentence.)
- Write known words on the whiteboard. Emphasize that letter order is important. ‘hte’ is not the same as ‘the’. See Direction Is Important.
If your child is looking at the picture while he / she is ‘reading’ remind the child to look at the print. You might say ‘Point to the 1st word. Get ready to say it’ . If a word is added or left out you might ask him / her to reread whilst pointing to each word and ask “Did you have enough / too many words?” If he / she reads an error that does not look right you might say- You read here (home). Slide your finger under the word as you say it. Does it match? (no) Where are they going? (home) Slide your finger under the word and say home. Does it match? (yes) How do you know? (There’s an m.)
I remind the students that they have to read the author’s words. They can compose their own stories during writing time.