Learning to read and write should involve real reading and writing. My experience has shown me it is easier to learn letters, sounds, and words when they are connected to reading and writing real stories. I am against any program that starts with letters and sounds before spending any time reading and writing. It is important to work with letters, sounds, and words. But how can you do this, keep it easy to learn, and keep the focus on real reading and writing?
- Make sure the time students spend on isolated tasks is SIGNIFICANTLY less than the time spent on reading and writing stories.
- Make sure students know how and where to use the isolated task you just taught (return to the book or the story they are writing after teaching the letter or word).
- Use multiple modalities to teach letters and words.
- Read read, read! Write, write, write!
- Read some more! Write some more!
Here is a video example of how I might approach teaching a word using several different modalities. The book is a story Maddie has read before. She has a limited number of words she knows. I have selected the word went to do some extra work with because it shows up in many Level D books. Notice how we make the word went with magnetic letters. We write it on the water wizard and chalkboard and then we read it again in the book.
Keep up the good work you are doing. Keep thinking: How can I make reading easy for my students to learn?
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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