I just started working with a first grade group that has been receiving phonics-based intervention. Despite intervention, the group is still about six months behind grade level (DRA Level 6/D). Yikes!
So what isn’t working?
Here is a small sample from a running record taken with Reece, one of the students in the group:
I have a few concerns. First, Reece doesn’t know the word your. Your is a sight word she should know. My second concern is more significant. Reece kept reading and did not check (monitor) when the sentences did not make sense or sound right. Another concern is how Reece, even after a lot of phonics instruction, is still having such difficulty taking apart a very simple word such as going.
Planning Next Steps for the Group
1. Prompt for self-monitoring: I need to get Reece and the other students to notice and take action when they make mistakes. If they don’t notice their mistakes, I can't expect the students to correct them! I will use the following prompts:
“Did that make sense? Check it!”
“Reread and make sure it makes sense and looks right!”
“I like how you stopped. What did you notice?” [when a student hesitates]
2. Teach sight words: The students need to firm up their sight words. They know some, but they are misreading them. I will teach a sight word each day and review several at the beginning of each lesson. I will also select books with care. I want the group to see sight words we are working on and I want stories that have natural language so the students can hear if they make sense and sound right. I will use guided writing and insist that the students correctly spell sight words we have worked on.
3. Teach word-solving skills: Reece and the other students show poor skills in decoding unfamiliar words, so I will use magnetic letters to demonstrate how words work. I find the manipulation of magnetic letters to be a powerful tool for helping students learn how to take words apart in their reading. Just a little warning – make sure the letters you use have good shapes (not funky, puffy ones). Here's a little plug for the new magnetic letters from Pioneer Valley Books. They are the perfect shape and size, plus I LOVE the extra strong magnets!
To give you an idea of how I use magnetic letters to demonstrate word solving, here is a video I captured last week of Jan Richardson working with a group at Level I. This is the kind of magnetic letter work I am starting with Reece’s group, only I am using easier examples (go-ing, look-ing, see-ing).
I hope to share more about Reece and the other students in her group this winter and spring – and hopefully we will see some improved processing.