Reading notes, March through April


When she first read Wheels she concentrated on phonics, on 'sounding out' - that false friend of new readers everywhere. The second time through, knowing what was coming, she used meaning-based strategies. Her mistakes usually involved substitution; "cops" for "police" for example.

The pattern held when she read What? and The Duck.  Each time, she placed too much trust in phonics during the first reading, and too much faith in prediction and inference during the second reading.

This brought to mind my not-very-sophisticated theory that it's easier to read something when you already know what it's supposed to say.  Obviously, you say. That is one of the reasons to use learner-created experience stories for reading practice. But it's also harder to proof-read - to read closely for spelling or verb tense errors - when you know what the text was meant to say. Consider the well known example below. (You do see the error, right?)

signs repeating

A lack of integrated strategies plagues us all most of the time.

Anyway, that's all. I was grateful - again - to have those wonderful PRACE readers.  I was mindful that we had been doing experience stories (she dictating and then reading her own words back) and have gotten away from them. I was pleased to be doing literacy work and, for a moment anyway, not worrying about prepping someone for a test.

* * *

She asked if she could sit on the floor to read. Sure. Why not? Young people are apt to want to do things like that. In fact, most of the world sits on the floor or, at least, on very low couches and cushions.

Then she wanted me to sit down there and read with her. Well, okay.  But I'm not really from a floor-sitting culture. And I'm not as young as I used to be. And it was a bit of a way down, and then back up.

Tell you what, though. It does get a fellow thinking about the state of his classroom floors.

  * * *

Increasingly, she is using integrative strategies.  She's combining sounding-out with guessing based on context (the sense of the sentence and story, and any available pictures). She also self-corrects based on meaning - i.e., asking herself, "Did what I read make sense?" This is really, really encouraging, and I told her so. Though, of course, not being a reading-method theorist, she wasn't quite sure what I was talking about. She's not ready for this yet….  But I wonder: could we read it together?

* * *

I'm doing a better job of fitting a very low level learner into a GED prep classroom - better than I used to two or three years ago.  Our class time routine looks like this.  She begins working independently with basic operations, usually using the Breakthrough to Math workbook (New Readers Press - I'm linking to the US provider because the Canadian website comes up broken in Chrome). This gives me time to get everyone else started. Early on, we go into a separate room to read together for 20 to 30 minutes. We work through 5 or 6 levelled readers from Grass Roots Press or PRACE; ranging through text with reading level difficulty ranging from 1 through 3. Back in the classroom, she works solo, reading and writing using the binder of level .7-1.0 Marshall materials (Reading for Today's Adults: Group 1 - printable, Marshall Adult Education, Minnesota). She also engages in solo, free, functional writing using Facebook.

It only took me about four weeks of this to notice that her independent reading comprehension and writing work was not integrated with the reading we were doing together. We would read Peanuts or A Good Night's Sleep, and maybe stretch a bit with Spare Parts, building up her reading vocabulary in a more or less systematic way. But, then, she was left on her own to puzzle out the different word-set used in the Marshall materials.

A lack of integrated strategies plagues us all most of the time.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do better next week.

Though it's true that the PRACE materials have some exercises attached (in the books and online), and I've made up a few to go with the Grass Roots Press readers, I far prefer the Marshall materials. So, I'm going to ask to read some of the Marshall materials in our joint reading time, in addition to the PRACE and GRP readers. Then, she'll be in a better place to carry on more or less independently with the writing and comprehension work.


KarenB said...

Glad to see you haven't made good on your threat to give up blogging just yet! I know it's time consuming, but it's so valuable to be able to share your experiences.
I'm trying to figure out how to let you know how much your reflections resonate with me in my practice *without gushing too much*.
I've got at least 5 new ideas just by reading your last few entries.
Btw, the floors in my classroom would need a good scrubbing before I would ever consider sitting on them. Though I've crawled under more computer desks than I care to remember.

Wendell Dryden said...

Thanks, Karen.

(Ah yes, crawling under computer desks. So much for the wireless society.)