“The cat sat on the mat.
The fat cat sat on the mat.
The rat sat on the mat.
The fat cat sat on the mat.
The fat cat and the fat rat sat on the mat.”
“What are we working on today?” I inquired.
“I am practicing ‘the’,” was the earnest reply from the first grader.
“Can you show me where you see the word ‘the’?”
“All of them?” she queried as she pointed to two examples.
“They aren’t the same,” she added. “These begin with upper case and these begin with lower case.”
“Tell me more.” (falling back on that favorite response)
“These line up in a row,” pointing to the The in a vertical column. “And these don’t.”
“What did you learn in this story?” I asked.
“”That cats and rats can sit together,” was the response.
What was the goal?
I saw that the student practiced the page three times as directed and then recorded it onto the iPad on a fourth reading. It was flawless. Every word was pronounced correctly. The student stopped appropriately for end punctuation (periods) and it sounded okay . . . just a bit “sing-songingly” with an attempt to have some rhythm/intonation in the reading.
Is this reading?
What role does this have in reading?
What happens if this becomes a “major portion of a steady diet” for a reader?
Valinda Kimmel had a great post about Guided Reading here last week, “Why Does Guided Reading Get Top Billing?”. Please go read it and consider “WHERE” you believe the above reading work fits in.
Phonics, Spelling and Word Work?
In this instance, the student self-reported that this reading was her fluency practice that she has to do before Independent Reading. Short passage with words she knew. Focus was on sight words “and”, “the”, and “on” according to the posted learning targets.
Fluency has many definitions that include:
reading like an author intended with phrasing, intonation, accuracy, rate, and expression
but all contain some reference to “fluency to support comprehension”.
Fluency – one of the “Five Pillars” of reading from the National Reading Panel report.
And I digress . . . Or do I?
Have I switched topics from Phonics (the title) to Fluency now?
In the classroom next door, the learning target was “practice /at/ phonograms in text and decoding cvc words with short vowel sound made by a.
How did the practice support word work?
37 words total
the – 11 repetitions
on -5 repetitions
and – 1 appearance
/at/- 20 (cat – 4, sat – 5, mat – 5, fat – 4, rat – 2)
This is an example of “decodable” text. Some might call this “barking at print” because the text can be read but there is no deep meaning attached to the words, phrases, sentences or passage. Worse yet, this might be something a student would be required to read multiple times, quickly, without hesitation in 30 seconds or less to meet some pre-determined correct words per minute goal. (Fluency, Automaticity, Word Work in “connected text” might be ways this text would be named._
Phonics – this post listed Faux Pas from the past
A need for Due Diligence and understanding Reading Research was the focus here
and yet . . . doubt remains
Check out Stephen Krashen’s response as well . . .
Comments on Morning Edition, January 2, 2019, What is Wrong with the APM report . . .
“There is no evidence that “Millions of kids can’t read …”. But there is
overwhelming evidence that low reading ability is related to poverty, contrary to
the claim in American Public Media’s report.”
and Basic Phonics.
What do we need?
Increased clarity of purpose by teachers?
A potpourri of effective strategies and methodologies?
I celebrate the questions that lead informed conversations and decisions about the best instruction possible for students!
Alfie Kohn – phonics added! Link
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.