A writing sample

One day last week Miss N was told she could write about anything, and I would not be helping her with the spelling. (I wanted to check what she would do by herself.)She chose to write about a familiar story from her book box. Grandad had helped Max to rehearse his role as the wolf in the class play. Unfortunately on the day of the play Max was not well and Grandad took his place.  Miss N wrote:

Max was sick because he had a sore throat. Then Grandad pretended to be the wolf.

Miss N showed that she could easily compose 2 sentences that made sense. She began each sentence and name with a capital letter and she finished each sentence with a full stop. She confidently wrote the words that she knew and she willingly had a go at unknown words. She regularly reread what she had written so far and she often said the next words aloud before she wrote them. She made some changes as she went. She self corrected ‘he‘ and she crossed out ‘a’ but then chose to write it again.

What she did not do was stretch out any words aloud in order to hear the parts. After she was finished I helped her to think about the words that were not correct. I drew a letter box for each letter of a word and I slotted in the letters that were correct in her version. She easily recognised what was missing from ‘sick‘ to make it look right. (She wrote ‘ck’ in the one box until I clarified that only one letter was to go into each letter box.) After I pronounced the word ‘throat‘ for her she easily added ‘th‘ to replace the ‘f’ in her version. I told Miss N to stretch out ‘sore‘ before she wrote it and she quickly realised that the word contained ‘or‘, a word she knew, and then she added the ‘e’ on the end herself.

The trickiest word was ‘pretended‘. Together we said the parts pre-ten-ded. She wrote pre-en-ted, so I had her slowly say each part again until she heard all the sounds in order.

The following day Miss N independently stretched out some words as she was writing. Every day there are opportunities for Miss N to try out ways of solving words. She knows that some letters go together to make a sound, e.g. ‘oa‘, ‘th‘. She knows that some words are a bit like other words she knows, e.g. or / sore, and she thinks about what she would expect to see, e.g. ‘e’ on the end of sore.

Reading Levels and Strategies

Have you noticed the page on this blog called Levels? The purpose of it is to gain an understanding of the expectations for the students as they reach each reading level. Parents of our new students might like to have a look.

I have previously posted the following information- As the students move through the reading levels, they are required to build upon what they already know and to gradually demonstrate a shift towards independence.

The Levels page contains a summary of the expected skills at each reading level BUT it is only a guide. Children rarely move through any predetermined list of behaviours in the same order as each other. Some skills / strategies will need a lot of revision, and others may be well knownlonger text before the levels listed on the page.

The aim is to always read fluently and to seek to understand what is being read.

Oral literacy

Below is a demonstration video of a teacher using the PM Oral Literacy Sequencing Cards. It shows the types of questions that children can be asked to promote thinking about the story and retelling what happened and why. The children look at the picture cards (pages from the book), and use their prior knowledge (own experiences) to answer questions about who is in the book, and the setting (where it takes place).

The teacher uses the vocabulary (words) from within the book and encourages the children to think about some words that describe the characteristics of the characters, e.g. big, enormous, small. The events that happen in the story are sequenced (this came 1st, then this, this was last) and the children can describe the problem (no fish) and the outcome (didn’t give up, fish came). There was also a question asking the children to think about a possible answer that was not directly in the book (Mother Bear could have gone …..)

At home, you might like to ask your child some similar questions about a book. He or she might occasionally like to draw some of the things that happened (in order) and either talk about it or write about it (you might write down his / her sentences to make the task easier).

Becoming A Writer

Last week was my first week back after minor surgery. With 2 professional development days, and being absent in the middle of the week, it was a rather slow start for my students.

On Friday the Reading Recovery teachers went to Ballarat for our latest Reading Recovery Ongoing Professional Learning session. The overall theme was writing. This included watching a video of Noella Mackenzie. She talks to parents about how young children explore writing at home, and during the early years of preschool / school. Children learn many things, including talking and writing, by observing, copying and interacting with those around them.

It is worth watching the video, even if you no longer have very young children.

To view the video click on the picture to the left.

 

 

You can download the accompanying brochure from Noella Mackenzie by clicking on this picture. (Or here for a different version.)

 

A valuable quote from the transcript of the video is-

As you talk with children you help them to develop their language use, you help them to build their vocabulary and they will notice more about the world around them.  Knowing lots of words helps with reading and writing.

Linking hearing words to reading ability

There was an interesting segment on Lateline (ABC 18/07/2017) about research proving what many of us have known for a long time; hearing words in context greatly assists us with identifying new words as we see them when we are reading.

To quote the corresponding article:

“The take-home message for parents is: ‘Talk to your kids. Try and use new and complex vocabulary. Take the opportunity to explain what that means during conversation or during shared storybook reading’.”

Click here to view the segment. The corresponding ABC News article can be read here.

I am currently on leave after a short stay in hospital. Hopefully I will be back after a couple of weeks.

Holiday time

Happy holidays!

It was good to catch up with most of the parents at our recent Parent Teacher Interview Day / Evening. Everyone commented on the improvement that their children were showing at home.

Some students are in the very early days of their series of lessons and we all look forward to seeing how well they progress in the future. The students that have finished Reading Recovery should continue to read, read, read. Their learning is not finished!

I sent some extra books home with the current Reading Recovery children who were at school on the last day of term. Don’t forget to hear reading every day. At least one book per day.

There are many opportunities to read and write during the time away from school. I easily found some ideas by searching the Web, including:

20 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the school holidays

Let the children write! 20 suggestions to get children writing during the school holidays

140+ Best Learning Activities

See you in Term 3.

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.

Book orientation

A book orientation is the same as a book introduction. It happens before the student attempts to read a new book for the first time.

The following video was published on Mar 22, 2015 by UALRCenter4Literacy

The Reading Recovery teacher scaffolds (supports) the student during the book introduction and the first reading of a new L14  book called The Missing Necklace.

The Reading Recovery teacher provided her student with some information about the story and she asked him questions that prompted him to wonder about what was happening, and what may happen next. He was in control of the book. (He held the book and he turned the pages.) The student searched the pictures and he told the teacher what he observed.

Sometimes the teacher pointed out something in the picture in order to add to the meaning. She also asked him some questions to check that he understood the vocabulary (e.g. detective, chipmunk). He demonstrated a good understanding of the story when he reacted to the humour at the end of the book. The teacher responded to his enjoyment of the story, and she connected the story to his own experiences.

He is likely to read the book very well the next time he reads it as he understands it so well. Perhaps he will add some more expression to his voice to make it sound more interesting.

He is learning ways to orientate himself to a book when the teacher is not with him.

All of the teachers are currently very busy with writing reports. I am also gathering information in preparation for the mid year reports. I have been re administering parts of the Observation Survey in order to check for progress. It’s always interesting (and rewarding) to look back at what the student could do at the beginning of Reading Recovery, and to compare it with what is known now.

Reading together

Again, I am encouraging parents to read to their children because there are so many benefits.

This article (click on the picture) was written by Deborah Gough (Sydney Morning Herald, 2013) and quotes Bridie Raban (University of Melbourne’s Graduate School Of Education).

 Some quotes from the article:

Parents who stop reading to their children once they reach primary school are missing out on an emotionally rich time …

…a Galaxy poll of 1200 Australian parents found that just 23 per cent of parents read to their child every day… Just four per cent read daily to their child by the time they were aged 9 to 12 years.

Parents blamed making dinner and doing housework …, work … and tiredness… (for not reading to  / with their child).

Nine out of 10 parents encouraged their children to read… the most common incentive was giving children books as gifts…

Reading tips:

  1. Make a bedtime story something to look forward to (a treat).
  2. Be a good role model. Do your children see you reading?
  3. Join a local library.
  4. Read books on different topics that interest your children.
  5. Play word games together.
  6. Talk with your child. It’s a good way to learn new words, and to learn more about a language. (How children talk will influence the words that they will expect to see as they are reading.)

Reading aloud to children is important because it helps them pick up information and skills they need.

Children’s reading experts agree that reading aloud is the easiest and most effective way to turn children into lifelong readers.

Continue reading aloud after your children can read. All readers will enjoy listening to books that they can’t yet manage on their own.

Previous posts: Reading Aloud To Children,   Reading Aloud To Children 2,

Reading Aloud To Children 3Share The ReadingReading To Brothers And Sisters

See also Sharing Books With Young Children (Scroll down to the Reading section.)

 

A Tale Of 2 Students

2 students (from an unnamed school) began Reading Recovery a day apart. Student A was reading Level 3, and Student B was reading Level 4. Their Observation Survey scores were almost identical.

For the 1st 4 weeks of their series of lessons the students kept pace with each other. But after Week 4 Student B stalled on Levels 5 and 6 but Student A continued to progress a reading level each week.

What changed?     Attendance.

 Student A

 Student B

Student A was away for a total of 6 days so he missed 6 lessons. Student B was absent for 18 days so she has missed 18 lessons. There was only 1 week that she was at school every day.

(FYI- the week 24/03/17 is missing from Student B as she did not attend school at all that week.)

9 weeks from the beginning of Reading Recovery, Student A is reading Level 10 and Student B is reading Level 7, (despite the latter beginning 1 level ahead). Ironically Student A would have been reading Level 11 (4 levels above Student B) but he was away on the last day of this sampling!

There are many reasons why one student may progress at a different rate to a peer, but the teacher of these 2 students considers that the difference between them is the number of lessons that have been missed. As I have stated before, every lesson builds upon what happened the day before. The bigger the gap between this new learning and the next lesson, the more opportunity there is to forget.

It is sensible to keep a child at home if he / she is unwell. It is not sensible to keep a child at home because it is raining, to get a haircut, to buy new shoes, to go visiting etc. etc. Missing lessons will alter the progress of your child.