The 1st word can be the hardest

There’s a song that says that ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’. Well I think that the hardest word is often the first word of a sentence. Why? Because there is little or no context (meaning or structure) to support the look of the word.

If your child is stuck on the first word of a sentence don’t think that you’re doing the wrong thing if you just tell him / her what it is to move the reading along.

Sometimes I will tell the word. Sometimes I will give a prompt to action and if that does not work I will tell the word.

Here are some ways that I’ve helped students to get started :

Day after day “We’d probably say ‘every day’ but the author chose ‘day after day’. Say it with me. Day after day”. (‘Day’ might be a word that is usually recognized by this student, but it is not known in this context.)

Kieron “That boy is ‘Kieron'”. (Pointed to picture and pointed to 1st word.) “Can you say ‘Kieron’?” (To become familiar with the look and sound of the word.)

Matthew “Who is still making the card?” (A call to use some visual information and meaning (print and picture) to support a decision.)

They “Does it look like ‘They’ or ‘Then’?” (Reducing the choice to 2 words. Will need to look through the whole word.)

Then “What do you think happened then?” (Giving some context and putting the word ‘then’ into the student’s mix of possibilities.)

After “What do you think will happen after school?” (Context for the 1st word, and also a call to think about what might come next (structure and meaning).)

Thunder “Look at the black clouds in the sky. Look at the beginning of the word and think about what might happen”. (Giving some context and a call to crosscheck meaning with the look of the word.)

Everyone “Can you see a part you know? Can you say more?” (A call to take the word apart as I know he knows both ‘every’ and ‘one’.)

You have to know the reader well in order to choose an appropriate prompt. If in doubt- Tell.

 

Homework books

Term 4 is always so busy!  Many Reading Recovery students are coming to the end of their series of lessons, and others are busy learning many new skills.

Whilst it would be wonderful for each student to progress as quickly as possible, I would like to emphasise the following information from the Homework page:

Every day your child will choose to take home one of the books that has been read that day. Children have favourite books and sometimes he or she may bring the same book home more than once. Please do not insist that your child brings a different book home every day. When a book becomes too easy, and there is nothing more to learn from that book, I will remove it from his / her book box.

Reading is meant to be a pleasurable pastime. I can guarantee that students learn more from the books that they enjoy compared to books that are too challenging. It is tempting to want to extend our students too quickly, especially with the end of the year around the corner. Let’s be mindful that pushing students too hard does not benefit anyone.

What can you say besides ‘sound it out’?

There is a handy resource that you may like to check out provided by the Reading Recovery Council Of North America, contributed by Cathy Duvall, (a Reading Recovery leader).

Reading and Writing with Your Child

On the left hand menu (of the site linked above) you will see What can you say besides ‘Sound it out?’ (PDF)
You may like to print a copy to keep with you as you hear your children read.

One of my students graduated at the end of last term and another one is close to being discontinued. For the remainder of the year I will be taking new students for ‘top up lessons’ i.e. I will not be taking any more students for Reading Recovery in 2017. I am currently seeing 2 ‘top up’ students. They just need an extra boost to progress further and faster. 1 of these students comes to me twice a week and the other will come 3 times per week. They are having Reading Intervention (not Reading Recovery) as they are not coming to me every day and I am adapting their lessons.

As you know, some of the students are attending swimming lessons during the next 2 weeks so we will all need to be flexible re the timetable. Do not be surprised if your RR child has 2 Reading Recovery lessons on 1 day, and none on another day.

 

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.