Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Teaching Reading

I am currently in the process of completing a PhD in English/literacy education from the University of Maryland, College Park.  This being my background has caused me to have an intense passion for developing strong readers.  I am pretty “old school” when it comes to this and my views on literacy education come from time I spent with a lady by the name of Sylvia Brown.  It was a very long time ago and I was just out of college.  You may not have heard of her, but she has a company called Simply Phonics.  She travels the country teaching educators that the best way to develop strong readers is to simply teach phonics.  That being said, I do not push sight reading. It is necessary, but I do not make it the emphasis.  Of course it may take a little longer for you to see the fruit, but if a child has a strong grasp of phonics, they will be able to attack most words…no matter how long the word is!  I have seen it happen with my current class.  Most are in early readers, but I often will present them with a longer word or more challenging literature.  At first they will frown up and feel insecure, but I just simply say, “You know each letter in that word.  Sound it out.  Use what you’ve learned.”  And before long they are working on it and figure it out!  I love the look of pride on their faces when they do it! 

There are two main ways that I teach sight words.  One way is by using the word wall.  As we are reading our books throughout the day, if we see a word that fits the phonics rules but still is difficult for the kids to remember, I will place it on the word wall.  The second way is I have created The Word Jail!  All throughout the day, when students and I find words in our everyday reading that do not fit any rule, then we write it on index cards and throw it in a crate.  About two times a day, I pull the cards out of the crate and we read them off.  Then I have the kids tell me why it is a “criminal word” (criminal words are words that break the phonics rules). 

In the months to come, I will share more ways that I teach reading, but hopefully this gives you a nice snap shot…

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