18 May
Family summer reading fun

Family summer reading fun

This is the time of endings and new beginnings! 

Unless you’re teaching year-around, the count down begins. After you’ve had time to relax and rejuvenate, do a little summative, on your own, end of term evaluation. Did you get the results you wanted? What would you do differently? Then take a break!

This summer, make time for learning fun!

  • Field trips
  • Arts and crafts
  • Science experiments
  • Thematic projects
  • Exercise
  • Read widely as a family, and self-choice
  • Family literature classics
  • Library visits
  • Writing activities of all kinds

When you’re ready to start your curriculum and gather resources, make time to:

Fill in the reading gaps you or your teacher noticed!

Today I’m sharing a chapter from my book Reading Champs! Teaching Reading Made Easy. I selected this set of mini-lessons because these are common errors made by new or struggling readers, and easily correctable.

After using this mini lesson with your child, be sure to check out my Facebook page. I look for truly interesting and fun resources, a summer-ready resource trove!

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts,


(CSML) Common Sense Mini Lesson 36: Corrections and Interventions

Word Studies: Miscues


Reading levels are significant. Remember, students become frustrated when they are trying to read materials that are too advanced for their current skill levels. However, if a student shows an interest in a subject, it might be appropriate to go ahead with the material, just provide more support and assistance.

As an informal measure, ask the student to put down one finger on a page each time there is an unknown word; after five fingers, select another book. This is easy (and, no surprise here, it is called the five- finger technique). Professional educators have used this technique with hundreds of children of all ages because it works consistently and kids like to do it. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a student struggling—and then giving up—because of stumbling over every word on a page.

Reading proficiency assessment, whether formal or informal, is usually defined in three levels. At the lowest of these, the frustration level, students may lack motivation and be frustrated by their lack of success. Patience, support, and encouragement are vital at this level.

As skills emerge, and reading confidence starts to appear, students progress into the instructional level where they focus, under supervision, on word recognition and comprehension skills. They start to exhibit a willingness to take risks and guess at words that seem familiar. At the frustration and instructional levels, miscues and errors are readily apparent. This instructional handbook deals primarily with these problems and provides some quick tips for intervention and correction.

The most advanced, the independent level, is reached when the student can function alone with little support. Minor errors and difficulties can be expected, but these are minimal. Continue reading instruction as the complexity of the material increases.

Instructional Activity
Why Do We Need to Know This?

Learning to read is not an overnight process. Even the best readers have problems from time to time, but at the beginning, it can be intimidating. Readers at the frustration level, especially young children, may be moved to tears by the results of their efforts to master what seems to be an impossible task.

One of the first things you need to know as a learning coach—and your students need to understand—is that becoming a skilled reader takes time and practice. Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Emerging readers, at any age, need to be encouraged as much as they need to be corrected. But in the end, watching a student become a self- motivated, independent reader and lifelong learner is a most rewarding process for everyone involved. The only way to never make a mistake is to never do anything, but that is the biggest mistake anyone can ever make!

Whether a reading coach or a reading student, you should begin by listening for these kinds of miscues (errors):

  • Substitutions: If a student is substituting one word for another, work with the student to make flash cards of the challenging words. Then work on the beginning sounds or syllables that are difficult. Add problem words to the student’s “sight words” sheets and use these words in sentences.
  • Insertions: If a student adds words that are not in the sentence, do “read-alongs.” Model pointing to each word (moving from left to right) as the student reads it, and encourage the student to do the same. For added emphasis, ask the student to lift a finger and bring it down for each word read, as it is being spoken.
  • Omissions: Omissions are letters, words, or phrases that are left out of oral and silent reading. Usually, this can be a result of a tracking problem and if the problems persist after several attempts at corrective intervention, a visit to an optometrist might be recommended. 
As an intervention, however, try using a paper guide, a ruler, or a bookmark under each line of print to help the eye follow the line from left to right. Other remedies might include building a larger sight-word vocabulary or using “read-alongs” and “choral reading,” which is one-on-one reading out loud together. 
Yet another helpful activity, “echo reading,” is reading quietly, almost under the breath, while the student is reading along. In this case, the best beginning is to model the activity by having the student doing the almost quiet reading while you are reading aloud. Then, once the pattern is established, exchange the roles.
  • Reversals: It is normal for younger emerging readers to make reversals, as with the letters b and d or shorter, one-syllable words such as was and saw. Sometimes, students just do not know the difference between left and right. If the problem continues after lightweight corrections, use the following remedial activities.
    • Emphasize left from right, and then reading from left to right (normal reading for the English language). Then model paced reading with left-to-right hand movement. Use flash cards to build sight vocabulary. You might also trace challenging words in cornmeal, salt, or shaving cream, onto sandpaper or other tactile material, especially when working with a tactile- kinesthetic learner.
    • Cover words with a card, or sentences with a piece of paper, which will allow the reader to uncover each word (or line) as the previous word (or line) is read. You might want to make a tachistoscope (a window marker card) by cutting a slot in a large index card or paper. The word, phrase, or sentence should show up in the window slit.
    • If you are working with worksheets or books that the student owns, another activity that can be used for reversal remediation is to color code the shape of the letters. This should also work well for learning vowels and syl / la / bles. You might also focus attention on proper reading order by marking the first letter of each word or marking the left margin of all the pages and reading practice papers to identify the left side.
    • And, finally, remember the “print-rich environment” and “word wall” learning environments? Marking the left side of everything makes it very hard to forget (or ignore).
  • Repetitions: If the student frequently rereads words or phrases, use material with more familiar words and phrases. Also, you might practice sounding out words (preferably syllable-by- syllable sounding out). Use this consistent way to recognize unknown words:
    • Look at the word (and sound it out).
    • See if any part of the word looks like an already known word.
    • How does it begin? / How does it end?
    • Read other words in the line; what do you think the word might be.
    • And, once again, do more work on building and practicing sight words.
  • Incorrect Phrasing: This might be caused by insufficient sight vocabulary or simply by development of poor oral reading habits. This can be overcome by modeling proper phrasing.
    • Learn or review proper phrasing by understanding the part punctuation takes place in the activity. Draw an analogy between punctuation marks and traffic signals: The period is a stop sign, the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence is a green light, etc.
    • Reproduce reading passages / so they can / be divided into / two or three / (or even four or five) / phrases.
    • Leave extra spaces (and even put in slash marks) to highlight the separations.
  • Guessing at Words: There is no ongoing problem in an instructional-level reader guessing at a word from time to time, but when this happens during oral reading, it should be gently corrected immediately. Encourage the student to build and practice sounding-out skills and build additional sight words.
    • As a last resort, use lower-level reading material, within the current instructional level, but do not be afraid to challenge a student. Teachers, especially in an overcrowded remedial-reading environment, may want to avoid challenging students for fear of their regressing back to the frustration level.

The preceding are among the most common miscues (errors). Others not dealt with here might be: word-by-word reading, monotone (lack of meaningful inflection), hesitations, losing place, or reading too slowly.

A Four-Step Contextual Approach to  Mastering Strange/unknown Words

Put a checkmark near the word or place a post-it note in the book margin and continue reading.

  • Next: After reading the sentence, passage, or paper, go back to the marked word.
  • If the meaning of the word is still unclear, try breaking it into its parts—prefix, root, suffix, etc.—and guess from what is recognizable.
  • Go to the dictionary and use pronunciation, definition, etc., as clues.
  • Make up a sight-word flash card with a definition and contextual use for future reference.

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