Term 2

The holidays have come and gone and Term 2 is well under way. It is pleasing that the students retained most of their new learning. I did notice that some old habits crept back in, especially reading in a more stilted voice. Please remind your child to sound like a ‘good reader’ by saying something like ‘run your words together like talking’ or ‘don’t sound like a robot’. (See Why do we want students to be fluent readers?)

It’s unfortunate that there will be 2 days without lessons next week just as the momentum is picking up again. Of course Anzac Day is on Wednesday (and we all enjoy a public holiday!). On Tuesday the Intervention teachers are covering grades again so that the classroom teachers can learn some more about writing from Alan Wright. The Friday of the following week is a Curriculum Day so that will be yet another missed lesson.

In the last post I reminded everyone that the homework (pasting) book can be used as a book for your child to read when there is a break from lessons. See how many past sentences can be read. Invite your child to go on a word search. Circle similar words, e.g. day, today, yesterday. Look for smaller words within bigger words, e.g. into, playing, grandma. Find all the words containing ‘th’. I’m sure that you will think of more challenges. Or your child will!

Planning Weeks

Planning Week is being spread over the last 2 weeks of the term. All of the Intervention Teachers, as well as the Specialist Teachers, are being used to cover the classes so that the Classroom Teachers can do their planning for next term. Therefore, there have been (and will be) missed Reading Recovery lessons.

Please try to keep the momentum of the learning happening at home. The take home reader can be read again. The pasted sentences in the homework book can be reread. A page within the homework book can be used to write a new sentence.

Some extra books will be sent home for the holidays. Please try to hear your child read one book per day. Thank you for your support.

Solving ‘ran’

My student was reading aloud and he stopped when he came to the word ran.

I thought that this was a word that he could solve himself with the support of magnetic letters and sound boxes (which he has been using in the writing section of the lessons).

I placed the letters under the boxes and I had him push the letters up as he said each sound. After 2 or 3 times he could hear the parts in the word ‘r-a-n’ come together.

I gave him the book and I asked him to push his finger up and say the letter sounds in the same way that he did with the sound boxes. He was very happy with himself when he easily reread the sentence without stopping. After he finished the book we revisited the word ‘ran’ and he showed me how he had solved it.

Eventually I might just have to prompt him to ‘say it like it is in boxes’ to get the same result.

Remaking the cut up sentence

Today one of my students was remaking his cut up sentence. I noticed that he always placed the sentence in one long line. I couldn’t help but notice as I was being elbowed out of the way to make room for the last few words!

When he pasted his sentence in his homework book at home he did not have the room to make one long line, so I knew that he could remake and read the sentence in multiple lines when he had no other choice.

I moved the words around and asked him if he could read the sentence again which he easily did. I asked him if it was still the same sentence and he agreed that it was. He needs to be flexible in reading lines of words as books (and other texts) have a variety of layouts. I also wanted to rearrange the words to encourage him to phrase his oral reading (i.e. run words together in a natural way as we say them, not word by word).

Each time I rearranged the sentence he read it slightly differently,mostly just pausing at the end of each line. (I emphasized that the word order had to be kept the same.)

He was given the opportunity to remake the sentence any other way he wanted. (See left.) I valued his choice although it wasn’t the best layout for grouping words together to sound like a capable reader.

My student is learning that the same sentence can be rearranged in different ways, but it is still the same sentence. He is also learning to put natural pauses between groups of words that go together as he is reading aloud.


Where to point

Some children point to each word as they are reading for varying reasons:

  • he / she needs assistance to match one spoken word to one written word
  • to stop the eyes from wandering away from where they should be focussing
  • to take a closer look at the word to check it looks like the word being said.

Here is a handy tip from the Ballarat tutor-

Instead of the child pointing underneath any part of the word, e.g. the middle or the end-

Have the child point underneath the first letter of each word.

This will remind the child to look at the 1st letter before any other letter, i.e. to look through the word from left to right.

This child is pointing underneath the middle of the word. Now I know to direct the finger to be under the 1st letter (‘l’ in ‘looked’).


You may have noticed a few disruptions to the Reading Recovery lessons of late. On Thursday all of the Intervention teachers were required to cover grades so that the classroom teachers could attend some literacy professional development together. On Friday the students did not have their normal lessons. I heard the students read a book or 2 and swapped their take-home books, before I headed to some Reading Recovery professional development in Ballarat. AND Monday is a Curriculum Day so the students will miss out again. Hopefully after that we will be back to lessons as per usual!

On Friday I recorded the students as they read. I stood in front of each one with an iPad. It was very interesting to be able to replay the recordings later and to observe what the eyes were doing as each student was reading. (See previous post Where are the eyes looking?) When I hear students read I am usually sitting side by side with them and so I have a limited ability to check what the eyes are doing. I have a greater awareness now of what is going on, e.g. who is looking away from the book, who is scanning the words ahead or behind, and who is going back and forth between the words and the pictures to support the word solving.

I know that many of you were at the Information Evening last Tuesday and I hope that you enjoyed being lead around the school by your children. I was on Zooper Dooper duty in the canteen, followed by surveying parents duty, so I was not in the Reading Recovery room if you came to visit. Remember that you can come and see me in Room 12 before school on any Monday or Friday.

Did that sound right?

Last week I wrote about students who are not using the look of the words as they are reading. The problem might be that they do not know where to look, or they might not know how to use the letters within words that they do see.

Other students spend a lot of time looking at the words. They are so busy thinking about what each individual word looks like that they forget to use the pictures and to think about what’s happening in the story. These students are likely to have poor comprehension (not understand) and will have much less chance of predicting and solving the words that will come next. The following example is one I have used in an earlier post-

Text:         The little cat is in the big tree.cat tree

Student:  The like cat is it the big tree.

This student is using the general look of the words without checking that it makes sense and sounds right.


If your child reads something that does not make sense you can stop him / her at the end of the sentence and say – Did that make sense? or Did that sound right to you? You may have to read back the sentence so that he / she can hear the error.  You could then suggest- Try that again and think about…. (the story or the picture).

In an earlier post called Being Flexible I wrote about the need to challenge our students who rely on just one strategy (e.g. only using meaning, or only using the look of the words).

My students are currently learning to use the meaning of the story (look at the picture as you turn the page and think about what is happening, what has happened so far, and what is likely to come next) AND the look of the word (emphasis on using at least the 1st letter at this early stage).

We are encouraging the child to use meaning and print. We prompt to use what is not already being used.

Where are the eyes looking?

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- eyesYou 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.


Making a book

Over the past week one of my students has made a book called ‘About My Family’. She finds this to be easy to read (compared to the purchased books that she also reads) because she composed it, and therefore it is very meaningful to her.

Every day she added a new page. She dictated the sentence to me and then she drew a picture to go with it.






Each day she remade a jumbled version of the new sentence. Sometimes she could remake it without looking at her book. Sometimes she had a peek to remind herself of what came next.





Each sentence had been written in a different colour. She had to sort her words into separate colours before she remade them.






She grew in confidence as she became faster, and more accurate on her own.









Eventually she had 5 sentences that she could easily read and remake herself.








She is learning to sort the words in different ways, e.g. words that are exactly the same, and words that begin with the same 1st letter. (You may notice that she has missed a few matches in the following example, but she may notice next time!)

Eventually she will be able to take this book back to her classroom where she can keep it in her book box and read it to herself, and to others.

Beginning Reading Recovery

The new RR students will be will be busy over the next 2 weeks Roaming Around The Known. They will have the opportunity to settle into the program, and to feel confident as they stay within the bounds of what is already known. During this time they are not yet challenged to learn new skills. (But they probably will!)

You can read more about Roaming by clicking on the following links:
Roaming The Known
Roaming The Known 2
Making I Like Books
Making I Like Books 2

The activities that each student does will depend upon his / her capability. Here are just some of the tasks that my students may experience.

Building up a box of easy to read books for each student. Sometimes the teacher does most of the reading. Sometimes the student takes over all of the reading.




Revising known letters, sounds and words. The student sorts known letters, plays letter games and may make a sound book or a sound chart. Sound boxes may be introduced.



Making a book. The student dictates a page each day and draws a picture to go with it. The sentence is also written on a strip of card which can be cut up for the student to put back together. The words can be sorted in different ways.


Shared writing. The student composes a sentence and writes the letters / words that he / she knows.

Each activity prepares the student for the formal Reading Recovery lessons that begin after the 1st 10 days of Roaming.