Saturday, June 18, 2011

10 Principles for assisting reading 3c.Word awareness

The bulk of recent research indicates that there is a vast difference in the amount of vocabulary knowledge that children bring to school. Those that have a wide vocabulary tend to advance quickly in reading while those with limited vocabularies are at a distinct disadvantage. This situation is compounded by the fact that children who do well in reading learn more new vocabulary than the delayed readers with poor vocabularies. In other words, the children rich in vocabulary get even richer while the poor readers grow poorer in comparison because they have less willingness to read and a lack of opportunity to lean more words. This is often referred to as the "Matthew effect".

What is needed in guided reading sessions is the development of word awareness and the modelling of new word learning during reading. There are two aspects of word learning: depth and breadth of word learning. The depth refers to the encoding and the connections to what is already known about words in the mind of the reader. It is the linking of the new to the known. Does it look like other words? Does it sound like other words? "Do you know other words that sound the same?' "what do you think it means?" These observations questions can come before the reader begins to read. Obviously, if the reader is familiar with the words then the reading will be much easier to negotiate.

The reading guide could model the learning of new words during the initial reading to the child by stopping at what would seem to be an unfamiliar word (most parents and interested others are usually able to predict what words will be unfamiliar - if unsure - just ask the child). Say, "I wonder what this word means?" Read back in the text (or read forward) and also look at the picture and mention what clues are available to help work out the meaning.
Now say, "I think it means ..."
Then say, "Yes, that makes sense because..."
This develops the breadth of word learning because it shows that words are connected to other words and it also develops child's predictive ability.

One of the exciting things about the guided reading session is - "What new words did I discover today?"

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