08 Dec

Teaching a ‘gap kid’ to read. Today I finally met Luke. His mom brought him over, in this busy season because Luke got all zeroes on his last first grade assessment.  So I’ll walk you through what we did, because something drastic has to happen right now. Can’t wait another day. I need to help this Mom fill in the gaps once I model how to do it. ME- Model Everything. Then, practice makes the learning stick.

Taught, today under great challenges.  My office is too cold to work in. Getting over a sinus infection, battling little sugar ants coming home for the holidays, and my ‘kids’ were here with toddler Morgan. Two dogs added to the chaos. So I took Luke and Mom to Morgan’s guest room, which is full of books, my home-made reading manipulatives, and dollar store teaching things I like to use. Distractible, labeled ADD and in special reading class, he needed a calm, quiet environment. (Oh yes, the smoke detector chirped loudly twice, adding to my stress level, and he squashed several ants.) Well, not today. But it all worked out, because we three were a seamless reading team, coaching each other.

Luke can read. I had only one goal  for our first session, to informally assess what skills Luke knows. How can he possibly be so far behind already? This is a normal kid. In our one-to-one teaching situation,  he flourished. I couldn’t plan a lesson in advance, so this was real-time old fashioned teaching. Grab and go. No surprise, I noticed right away he is very tactile/kinesthetic in his learning style, so we sat on the wood floor. Luke needed frequent little brain breaks. I had him stretch, did a couple Brain Gym movements and suggested he hold a small item in his hand, which ended up a soft feltish squiggly worm. He is right handed. Super, his teacher at school lets him bring a little car or something.

Here’s Where Luke is: Knows/Can Do to ‘Crack the Code’.

  1. Recites alphabet, as preschool sing-song.
  2. Knows some basic cvc patterns (consonant- vowel- consonant) three letter words, at instructional level. Can read several one syllable words independently/instructionally. Inconsistent.
  3. Knows some “cueing” or cross checking. Reviewed graphophonic, semantic and syntactic: “Does it look right, sound right, make sense?”
  4. Writes alphabet with mixed upper and lower case letters, (needing direction). I pointed out the letters with sticks, curves, circles and tunnels. We looked for patterns in letters. Reading is about pattern detecting, so I call kids word detectives.
  5. Reads some basic one and two syllable sight words. Not many. A problem.
  6. Likes drawing, using musical instruments (I took away the cymbals which he immediately grabbed for) to “feel the beat”.
  7. Prints some letters in Denialian, some manuscript, so is inconsistent.
  8. Could not read the first grade level books he brought, independently, so I moved him away from his frustration level.
  9. At an instructional level, Luke enjoyed rebus book Silly Willy, a picture reader by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, ’95. Dr. Seuss was too frustrating. Passed on non-fiction books, such as sharks, preferred low level first, no pre-school type. His independent level is picture books, but they are too baby and he has to reach automaticity in decoding to start enjoying love of language and reading.
  10. Likes math, so I capitalized on that. We counted a lot and used paper folds with boxes, to write letters and words in. He knew my terms ‘hot dog’ and ‘hamburger’ for the folds.
  11. Choral reading out loud with me, Luke read three complete short books, each a focal point of a mini-lesson.
  12. Luke can “track”, follow a line of print, but the words have little meaning because he lacks a lot of sound-symbol correspondence.

What Skills I Taught Today Through Mini-Lessons:

First of all, sounds make letters then letters make words! Words make sentences. And so on.

  1. Saying, then writing the alphabet using various pencils, crayons, play dough and chalk boards.
  2. Manipulating, then writing on paper, basic one syllable words, using letter cubes, paper folds,  magnet letters on a cookie sheet, etc.
  3. Compound words! Folded a piece of construction paper in half. On one side drew and wrote “rain”, other side, had a bow. Underneath the whole word, rainbow was written. He got it! He made a word fold, drawing the the word cowboy, then wrote it. We read the book Rain. Mulberry Book, Kalan, illustrated by Donald Crews, ’78.  Since it rains so much in Eugene, he had a lot of schema (prior knowledge, understanding) and this awesome old book uses repetitive patterns of the word rain, cool colors and has a rainbow, at the end, which led to compound word instruction.
  4. Teaching punctuation was really fun. I used the book Yo, Yes. (Rascha, ’93).  First I asked him about his best friend. My set, or opener. Next I made sounds for us to use for the various punctuation marks. For example, for the question mark, ? I say “huh?”, with great exaggeration and shake my hands over, as if conversing. Period. is a stop sign. Exclamation! is wow! Anyway, he loved it.  Next time I’ll redo and review this critical fluency building skill, adding in puppets for the two new friends.
  5. I used prediction before every story, saying “Guess what you think this book is about?”. Mini-lesson, then summarized what he thought he had learned. I also did this review at the end of our session together.
  6. He liked extrinsic motivators, so I let him keep the party sized play dough, picked two stickers and a Chinese finger trap from my kitchen junk drawer. Intrinsic motivator? He left, feeling he is a great reader.

Lesson extension. He and Mom agreed to pleasure read at least twenty minutes a day at a fun level. They are also writing the alphabet, knowing each lower and upper case letter. Since he can recognize some sounds, letters and words, focus on easy to read books. They are planing to go to a dollar store and buy flashcards and some sort of letter tiles or cubes to form two and three letter words.

Before I cleaned up, I took a photo and posted it on Instagram, (@readingchamps) leaving reading footprints on your heart.

Follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook!

4 Responses to Teaching Luke to Read- 1st grade, pre-school skills

  1. Pam Laird

    December 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Rita Wirtz,
    I am a firm believer all students are able to achieve academic success, regardless of learning challenges. Interruptions a constant in academia for instructors engaged in one on one instruction or in the classroom. You eloquently addressed this in concept in your blog about Luke. The key for instructors is to learn to teach to the students’ learning style, not their own. For 20 plus years, I worked with home school students and parents explaining that each student has his or her own learning style that may or may not match the parents or instructor’s style of instruction. The key to learning success.is addressing learning styles and obtaining teaching materials that match the students style not the instructors.

    • rwirtz

      January 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Pam, I miss you every day. In your last days you wrote this. You left a legacy for homeschoolers and so many teachers. I taught you in your first Foundations course at Chapman Univ., after that you taught me.

  2. Criação de Sites

    January 19, 2015 at 5:10 am

    I read this paragraph completely on the topic of the
    resemblance of latest and preceding technologies, it’s
    awesome article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.