I have a VERY long commute home and have been using these car rides as an opportunity to listen to podcasts. I don’t know about you, but I find the process of students learning to read so remarkable. I enjoy listening to a variety of sources to fine tune what I already know, and to teach me new ways to help my students. A few days ago, I listened to a podcast from “Montessori for Everybody” and she was talking about the reading program that she uses. In her podcast, one of the sentences that she said really resonated and challenged me. She had mentioned that she never tells her students that reading is “hard” or “tricky.” Rather, she said she teaches her students the “tools” they need to read any word that they might encounter.
I loved that.
I will confess, I have said in my classroom something along the lines of, “today we are going to tackle some tricky words.” I almost cringe now that I think about it. I know my students knew that we were going to succeed in reading the aforementioned “tricky” words, but I wonder if I unknowingly had put a subconscious fear of attacking those words into the heads of my students. (especially the ones who were already hesitant to read) I certainly hope that I didn’t, but I am going to consciously change how I present new words and sounds to my students from here on out.
As the podcast continued, the woman took the listener step by step on how she helps her students feel successful in reading. As you could probably guess, she begins with decoding and encoding CVC words. (once they know their letter sounds!) Once her students master that step, they move on to CVCe words. During this stage, she introduces the fact that letters can say more than one sound. After they have that step down, then they move on to digraphs, vowel teams, and other ‘special sounds.’ The process that she illustrated made complete sense to me and is similar to what I have taught in the past. However, with her approach, the individual student does not go on to the next “skill level” until they have demonstrated mastery of the previous skill. You might ask, ‘well, how do they gain this level of mastery?’ In her program this is done through practice with the words: meaningful word work, writing, and reading! All of the things that we are doing in our classrooms!
We can easily implement this slight change during guided reading and our daily 5 times. We can make sure that the phonics skills our students are working on in guided reading are the same skills that they are practicing and mastering during word work, read to self, and work on writing. During these times your students can review skills they already have mastered and practice their new skills. In doing this, our students build a solid foundation of reading and will quickly be ready for the next step. This will just take some intentionality in planning and teaching along with having differentiated work options for these times in your classroom.
Most of my kindergarteners are currently at the point where they have mastered decoding and encoding CVC words. They also know a good handful of sight words. However, unlike the progressions that the woman presented, I have to follow the progression specified in my school’s curriculum. Therefore, my students can move on to reading words with digraphs.
I created this freebie to help give my students the ample amount of practice that they will need before we move on to CVCe words. I created short readers that will help my young learners focus on our new skills.
Each reader focuses on one digraph and will help my students gain mastery of their new sounds.
Page by page, my students will read and write their new sound and then find it in a simple sentence and underline it.
During their literacy rotations they will continue to practice CVC words and also work on their new sounds.
Over the course of the next few weeks, they will move right along practicing their new skills until they are ready for the next steps in reading. Throughout this intentional process, I will give my students the keys to reading. One by one, they will be presented with the key that they will need to unlock their new challenge and then practice, practice, practice the skill until they master it.
If you would like to grab these FREE readers, simply click on the picture below or HERE to download them! Included in this freebie are readers for sh, ch, and the two sounds of th. Enjoy and happy teaching!