As we get ready to launch a new batch of emergent readers–hopefully, this year in school and not remotely–I think it is a good time to consider the purpose of the early-level books we use for instruction. I suspect critics of leveled books misunderstand their purpose. We need to do a better job of explaining to parents and other concerned people how we use these books as well as why.
I eavesdropped on my granddaughter Mae’s remote first grade class this morning and felt awed by how comfortable the class seemed with participating and conversing online. Mae is doing great, and the best part of the situation is that my son and his family have been here in Florida with us for several weeks—because she can do school from anywhere.
I know for many other children, it has been much more challenging. The pandemic has impacted many students and has had a particularly large impact on low-income students and students of color. I listened to a recent webinar where the presenter talked about the need to accelerate, not remediate, and I could not agree more. Let’s stop talking about learning loss and think about how we can take children from where they are and accelerate their progress.
I am noticing that we have many Emergent readers spending a long time reading at Levels A and B. If we want to accelerate learning, we need to move students quickly out of the highly patterned text and into Level C. At Level C, there are many more opportunities to learn literacy processing strategies.
The Level A and B text is designed to support students learning these early reading behaviors:
- One-to-one matching
- Cross-checking the first letter with the meaning (the item in the picture)
- Directional behavior (left to right and return sweep)
- Learning and using a few simple sight words
- Using language patterns to gain some fluency
Rereading books plays an important role in helping students consolidate new learning and build fluency. The first time a student reads a book, they may have quite a few challenges to work out. Sorting through these challenges can take time and will often slow down beginning readers.
It is very important for students to reread books. Rereading helps students increase the speed of their reading but, most importantly, supports building a strong processing system. Rereading helps students see and recognize words faster and encourages grouping words together. Many students are better able to use intonation and gather a deeper understanding of the text as they reread. You may even see your readers correcting things they missed in the previous reading.
One of the positive, yet unexpected, outcomes of COVID-19 has been the opportunity for me to work regularly with my grandchildren (and great-nieces!) on their reading.
My granddaughter Mae, a first grader, has been moving very nicely up the text levels—but my running records showed that cracks were forming at Levels G and H. My records consistently indicated that she was not working independently to solve unknown words. (more…)
Shared Reading: A Powerful Literacy Experience, In-Person or Remote
By Jan Richardson, Karen Cangemi, and Michèle Dufresne
Whether you are working with students remotely or in person, you need to provide a combination of instructional experiences that will help all your students build a strong processing system. Shared reading gives teachers the opportunity to explicitly model strategies and skills that will help expand readers’ competencies.
Shared reading provides an opportunity for students to hear and interact with on-grade-level text. During shared reading, you can introduce readers to a variety of genres and text features. You can model strategic actions and fluent reading as you teach vocabulary and comprehension strategies. You can engage and increase student participation in the shared reading experience by including opportunities for echo, choral, and cloze reading. The same book can be used for several days. Rereading the book provides students with opportunities to learn new skills and strategies. Through shared reading, you can build students’ confidence and motivation for reading.
As school starts, many of you will need to assess students remotely. It is important to assess students before beginning formal guided reading lessons. You will need data to help make decisions about forming groups and targeting instruction for reading, word study, and guided writing. If you are working with beginners, you will also want to know which letters they can identify to help you plan Beginner Steps (Pre-A) lessons. Here is our Letter-Sound Assessment designed specifically for remote use.
How can we prepare for the many scenarios our schools will face this coming year? In order to succeed, we need to have contingency plans in place that will help us be flexible. Our kids deserve this.
Here are some tools I hope will help you!
Some of you have asked about how to remotely teach the Literacy Footprints Beginner Steps lessons, or what Jan Richardson, in her book The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, calls Pre-A lessons. These lessons are designed to help students who know very few letters and may have limited book experience and/or limited English.
Adaptations will need to be made, but I do think you can use the Digital Reader for teaching Beginner Steps lessons. Here are some ideas for how to do each component of the Beginner Steps lessons remotely:
Since the Literacy Footprints Digital Reader launched last week, I have been looking for a way to create engaging book introductions to accompany the digital reader in a format that displays both the teacher and the digital book on the same screen. As we all know, in a guided reading lesson, the book introduction plays a critical role in preparing students for reading the book by providing a synopsis, looking at challenging words, rehearsing unusual language structures, and reviewing interesting text features. But it’s also a great way to get students excited about reading the book—and this is why book introductions are such a powerful component of the remote lesson. (more…)