Saturday, November 9, 2013

How I Get My Kids Reading.

So yesterday I said I would share my daily reading secret.  It's really not a secret if you worked in my old school, because we all used the strategy.  Every morning since the first day of school I have used a series of charts that progressively get harder through the year.  The first 6 weeks of school my focus is on letter names, letter sounds, phoneme blending, and sight words.  The chart would look like this (I would show you an actual picture of one of my charts, but they are on my school laptop):

Letter Naming and Sounds

G    h    A   L    g
H   o    p    a     O
A   l     g    G     P

When I show this chart, we go through the letter names first.  I point to the left of the letter and I count to 3 in my head for think time.  Then I tap under the letter and I use a castanet to make a click sound.  This indicates to the student that everyone is to respond for the letter name.   I go through the chart a second time, but we do letter sounds.  Everyone responds every time.  So students are seeing it, hearing it, and saying it.

My next chart has sight words.  It looks something like this:

the   a    am    little   a
she  my   the   am    she
little   the   am   she  the

This chart changes as we learn more sight words.  The chart usually has about 15-20 words to read.  I point to the left again and count slowly to 3 in my head.  Then I slide my finger under the word and click my castanet again so students know when to respond.

The next chart I have is for my eyes only.  I usually black out my Smart Board for this.  I use a green, yellow and red Unifix cube.  I tap each cube and give a sound for a three phoneme word with each cube.  Then I slide my fingers across the cubes as a cue for students to respond with the blended word.  My chart looks something like this:

/c/ /a/ /t/ = cat
/s/ /i/ /p/ = sip
/p/ /o/ /t/ = pot

There are about 10 words that we do like this every morning and it includes long vowel sounds too.  Sometimes the words will have 4 phonemes so I add an orange cube to my Unifix train.

After the first 6 weeks, we start blending cvc words.  The chart looks something like this:

top  hot  log  sit  rip
log  hog  lot  tip  hip
Tam am  ham  sip  pot

The chart has 15-20 cvc words using the letters that we have spent some time focusing on.  The first few weeks that we do this, the chart may only have 5 words, but it increases until we have 15-20 to practice.  For this chart, I point to the left of the first letter to indicate think time.  I tap under the first letter and everyone gives me the letter sound.  I repeat this for the second letter and then we go back to the beginning of the word and blend the first 2 sounds.  Then I touch to the left of the last letter for think time and I tap under the letter for everyone to tell me the sound.  Once I hear the sound, we go back to the beginning of the word and blend all three sounds together.  Then I slide my finger quickly under the entire word for everyone to read the word quickly.  This is called sound by sound blending.  After doing this for 6 weeks, I add another chart with cvc words.  The first chart we practice sound by sound blending.  The second chart I touch to the left of the word and slowly count to 3 in my head.  Students have to think in their head what the word is.  Then I slide my finger under the word and everyone reads the word.

After the first 12 weeks of school, I add another chart.  This chart is phoneme segmentation.  Students do not see this chart, but it is on my laptop to remind me which words I am having students segment.  I give the students a 2 or 3 phoneme word and they tell me the sounds that they hear in the word each time I raise a finger on my hand.  I tell the a word "sap."  They repeat the word.  Then I hold up one finger and the kids say /s/.  I hold up a second finger and they say /a/.  I hold up a third finger and they say /p/.  I do about 10 words every day like this.  I give them harder words later in the year.

Once they get the hang of doing the charts, they only take about 5 minutes.  I will say that later in the morning, I flash alphabet card for letter names and then again for sounds.  I also use flash cards to review the sight words.  In the afternoon, I use number word flash cards and numeral flash cards.  Right now we are working on number words for 1-10 and numerals 1-30.  Additionally, I review sight words at the beginning of every guided reading group and the letters and sounds at the beginning of the groups that still need this practice.

I hope this helps.  My teaching partner and my lovely assistant are amazed at how well my class is reading.  Last year, everyone in my class (except 2, but one of them had the ability, she just didn't come to school) met the end of the year DIBELS Benchmark at the middle of the year Benchmark and half my class was reading above grade level.  I don't claim that it will work for everyone, but it has been working for the majority for several years now in my class.

Do you have any strategies that are really working in your class?  I would love to hear about them.  Leave me a comment.

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