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Maddie's Story: Lesson Progress

Michele Dufresne

This was my last session with Maddie before I left town. Maddie’s mom and baby sister observed the lesson, so you will hear baby sounds in the background of the video! After this final lesson, my lessons will be given using Skype. Tune in next time to see the successes and challenges this brings to the teaching of Maddie.

I am pleased with Maddie’s progress. She has already gained a lot of confidence. She is noticing errors and often rereading difficult parts. I am encouraging her to make the first sound of new words as she rereads. The combination of hearing the sound and observing the language structure can often help a student anticipate what the new word is. I model this for her as I encourage her to reread.

I believe the reason that Maddie has made rapid progress is because she is working with continuous text. Too often, struggling readers are given problems to do in isolation, such as phonics worksheets where you have to put down a missing letter sound or fill in a blank. Struggling readers are also asked to practice new words using word cards. Reading a random list of unknown words off of a word card is difficult because there is no context to reinforce those words. I do some work with word cards, but it is not as powerful as many other ways of learning new words. I do very little work in isolation. Occasionally, I ask Maddie to find a new word in a book and make it with magnetic letters and/or write it a few times, but I always make sure that the word I select shows up frequently in her books.

Marie Clay in Literacy Lessons: Designed for Individuals, Part 2, says, “The teacher must create opportunities to link new features, letters, and words that occur in many activities but not overdo it. There should be echoes from one part of the lesson to another part.” She says, “ New words will be acquired through reading books, and others will come from daily writing.” (p. 40). 

I am focused on expanding Maddie’s vocabulary, but I also need to attend to her fluency. Her reading is still somewhat slow and choppy.  See what you think here in a few videos from our session together.

In the first video, I introduce Maddie to a new level D/6 book called Blackberries. Maddie reads the book nicely with very little help.


In this second video, I introduce Maddie to the new level D/6 book, The Missing Earrings.


In this third and final video for this entry, you can see that I am working with the new word they. Maddie has just read Where is Santa? for the first time. They is a new word in this book. First, I asked her to find the word they in the book and then I asked her to do a few things with the word in isolation. They is a tricky word, but it is important to learn because it shows up in many stories for beginning readers. Hopefully, Maddie will soon be able to read this new word in other new books.

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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