Readers usually use multiple strategies simultaneously.

I was pushing into a classroom today to confer with a 1st grader I work with. Yes, I can push in as long as I am not with the student more than 15 minutes.

I bring my own books into read just in case they do not have access to a book where they can work on the skills we are working on in guided reading group. I will usually listen to them read from their book of choice and then pull out my books. Other times I give them a choice between the books I bring and the ones they have. It varies but they often choose the books I bring.

I brought this book in today.

The student got to this page and read: I like my purple hat. The text reads: I like my purple cap. This is an Early level text with a pattern. I like my purple………………..

She stopped and corrected the miscue without me saying anything. Yes victory! I let her finish the book and then directed her back to that page. I said, “I love how you noticed you read this word wrong(pointing to cap) and went back and fixed it. Readers fix their mistakes all the time. Great job noticing it and fixing it. How did you know hat was wrong?”

She told me first she noticed the word started with a “c” and knew hat started with an h. I asked her what else she noticed about the word. She noticed cap did not end the same way as hat. We celebrated her hard work, and even shared what she had done with her teacher. She expressed to her teacher she knew the two words hat and cap had the same meaning. Her teacher asked her if she used the picture for support and had her talk about the different word solving strategies that were on the wall of their classroom. As teachers we had different ideas of what we felt she might have used. However, it was clearly evident that this student used all three cuing systems to solve this word, and most likely simultaneously or within one to two seconds of each other. She knew the meaning of the word, was looking at word visually and knew the pattern of the book and could use the illustration. All of these things contributed to her being able to solve the word.

I feel this happens more often than we realize. We isolate out different strategies and never help students notice how putting them together is a very powerful thing to do. That is why I love the Cross-Checking strategy which combines multiple strategies into one. Here is an old blog post I wrote about cross-checking. Even if our students can’t completely verbalize how they exactly figure words out, we have to make sure that they recognize the effort and thinking it takes to do so. They have to become conscious on some level of doing it. This will help them make a mental notes about the word so they can retrieve it for later use. We do not want them to completely draw a blank and not recognize the word the next time they see it, not remember what worked for them as a reader when solving it. This happens so often when we tell them the word or if it is used in a slightly different context. Heck it happens from page to page with some readers. We have to make sure students recognize all readers have to solve words. We just get more efficient at it as we become more familiar with letter combinations, word parts and learn more words.

Students need understand that there are multiple ways to solve words and that our brain will utilize them all if we let it. This will help them become flexible word solvers. As we teach word solving we cannot be putting more emphasis on one strategy over another, or even teach students an order to use the strategies. When we ask students, “What can you try?” or provide suggestions make sure to mix around the order in which we suggest strategies. Striving readers often fixate on one strategy and over use it.

When using meaning teach students to think about what they know about the book over multiple pages. Readers can build up clues across several pages to help them use meaning more efficiently. Striving readers go to strategy is too often, to stretch a word out, when using multiple strategies is much more efficient. Try this out and let me know how it goes.

Troy

Author: Troy F

Reading Specialist & NBCT in Literacy. Academic Coach for online Graduate classes.

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