Many parents have reached out to us with the question of, “How can I help my struggling reader at home?” You have probably heard ad infinitum, ‘be sure to read to your child.’ Reading to your child is lovely AND necessary for so many reasons. But, that’s a different topic. If you are reading this post, you have probably made trips to the library and reading bedtime stories a common occurrence. You want to know what MORE you can do, because the practices you are currently engaging in just aren’t helping your child close the reading gap. Take heart. There are a lot of short, fun activities that parents can implement at home to strengthen the various components of structured literacy.[Read more…]
It’s Back to School time! Looking for some fun reading tips and activities your children will love? This post offers free printables that will make the first weeks of school a success for students and teachers!
Essential Back to School Assessments for Early Readers
Back to School is an exciting time for primary students! First graders tend to be even more excited about the first day of school than Kindergarten students. Like Kindergarten students, first graders come to school shiny and eager to learn. They too benefit when the classroom teacher takes the time to establish routines and set consistent classroom rules. And, more than likely, there will be several new faces so it’s imperative that time is spent on building relationships and social interactions.
While all that is going on during the busy Back to School season, the classroom teacher must familiarize him or herself with the reading skills of each of the students. That’s no easy task. We feel ya!
Back to School: Where does the classroom teacher begin?
Emergent and Beginning Readers Benefit from Decodable Texts
Emergent and beginning readers benefit from decodable texts, or phonetic readers, in several ways. But first, let us explain that decodable books are just one of three types of books to which young readers should have access. In addition to decodable texts, emergent and beginning readers should also have opportunities to read patterned texts and exposure to ‘authentic texts’ or literature. Each of these types of texts serve an important role in developing successful readers. The focus of today’s blog is decodable texts. Here are three critical ways that decodable texts help young readers.
Decodable Texts are a Powerful Tool
What’s the big deal about decodable texts?
Approximately 20% of the population is prone to a language based learning disability. For these learners, reading does not come ‘naturally’. To meet with reading success, repeated opportunities to practice code are non-negotiable. Systematic, sequential, and cumulative practice with the alphabetic system helps create the neural pathways in the brain necessary for reading. Decodable texts provide this practice and help reinforce the understanding that code is not random.
Supporting systematic phonics instruction with decodable texts provides the opportunity for children to truly read with independence.
Well, what about the rest of the class? Won’t they be bored with phonics instruction?
A Cornerstone for Reading Success
What is the Alphabetic Principle?
Along with phonemic awareness (the ability to blend and segment the sounds in words), the alphabetic principle is essential for reading success. The alphabetic principle is the understanding that letters and letter patterns represent sounds in the spoken language.[Read more…]
Phonemic Awareness: A Prerequisite for Reading Success
What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic Awareness is an oral language skill that includes a number of discrete skills:
- isolating beginning, middle, and ending sounds
- segmenting and blending phonemes
- manipulating phonemes
Click here for more details on phonemic awareness.
Why is phonemic awareness important?
Phonemic Awareness is a critical building block, necessary for reading [Read more…]
Helping Emergent Readers Pronounce Letter Sounds Correctly
What do you mean by there’s a right way and a wrong way to pronounce letters?
Developing Automatic Recognition of Letters and Sounds
What are fluency grids?
Fluency grids are a simple tool that allows for targeted instruction. After careful analysis of a letter-sound assessment, the teacher can create a fluency grid with 2-6 letters requiring additional practice. When instructing emergent readers in letter/sound recognition (i.e. the alphabetic principle), the focus can be naming the letters and producing the sounds, naming the letters only, or producing the sounds only. Each session is intensive, lasting only 5-10 minutes.
The following videos demonstrate how to use fluency grids effectively:[Read more…]
Essential Decoding Assessments for Primary Readers
Second and third grade is where the ‘rubber hits the road,’ so to speak. While much of kindergarten and first grade reading instruction focuses on learning to read through phonological awareness skills and applying the alphabetic principle, second and third grade begins the transition from ‘learning to read’ toward ‘reading to learn.’
Helping Emergent Readers Understand the Difference
How can I help my students learn the difference between decodable words and trick words?
***Updated 2021 to adhere to current research related to the Science of Reading***
After learning the letter names and sounds in isolation, beginning readers are often taught to decode closed syllable words (i.e. words that follow the CVC syllable pattern) such as: cat, dog, and lip. Initially, these readers often over-apply the closed pattern to every word they encounter. Emergent readers may read like as lick or chop as /k/…/hop/. At this initial stage of reading, it is important to teach a limited number of words as ‘trick’ words even if the word is phonetically regular. A trick word, also known as a heart word, is a word that has a phonetically irregular component (i.e. of, the, said). A trick word may also follow a phonetic pattern that has not yet been taught (i.e. see, bird). Later, as students learn additional syllable patterns and phonetic components, students can be taught to decode these types of words.[Read more…]