Wednesday, August 31, 2011

10 Principles for Assisting Reading. 6. Scaffolding appropriately

In the last blog we looked at the 'pause, prompt, and praise' (positive feedback) method of assisting during a guided reading session. The question is, what sort of prompts should we provide during the supported reading?

Before we can answer this very important question we need to understand that readers sample from three cueing systems while reading. Readers look for; graphophonic cues ( look and sound of words), the syntax (word order), and the semantic content (meaning context). Information sampled from these three systems gives the reader clues to decode words and build meaning while reading. The more the reader knows about the topic the less they need to sample. In contrast, the less the reader knows about the topic the more the reader has to sample from the surface features of the text. In other words, reading is a two way process that involves the consideration of the surface features of print and the knowledge that the reader brings to the task.

If the reader makes an error and the meaning is lost the reading guide should prompt at the end of the sentence after a three second pause with a question or two. The first question might be, "Does that sound right?" This question is quite strategic as it focuses on the syntax or word order. In other words, "Does that sound like English?" the reading guide should pause again to give the novice or young reader time to process the information and to transfer the responsibility to the reader. If the child cannot correct the miscue then give another hint by saying, "Does that make sense?" This hint directs the reader to consider other clues provided by the context. This could come from the context of the sentence or from the picture, if one is provided. Then pause again. If the reader still cannot correct the error then tell him or her the word, there is no point in labouring the process, there will be plenty more opportunities to practise on other errors when they arise.

In the next blog we will look at another type of error that can be made and how to respond.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

10 Principles for Assisting Reading. 5. Pause, Prompt, Positive Feeding-back

The next stage of the guided reading session is supported reading. Supported reading implies that the reading is scaffolded, in other words, the supports are meant to be temporary and gradually faded out. The main idea is that the reading guide should gradually release responsibility to the reader as the reader gains in confidence and competence.

The most effective method to promote this self-supported reading is the pause, promp, and praise method. This provides a scaffolding that transfers responsibility to the young or novice reader and overcomes the tendency to rely too much on the reading guide for help. It also overcomes the frustration, and even anger, that can develop when using other methods that focus on accuracy rather than on meaning and enjoyment.

The pause aspect relates to the notion that the reader needs time to process the language and meaning of the text so that they can use compensatory strategies when meaning breaks down. Thus, when the reader makes an error the reading guide should pause and wait until the reader finishes the sentence (a sentence is a complete thought). At the end of the sentence the guide should give a prompt and wait for about three seconds to give the impression that it is the reader's responsibility to self-correct.

The second aspect is the prompt scaffold. This implies that the guide will assist the reader without undermining the reader's responsibility during the reading. However, it must be emphasised that some prompts are better than others. In the next blog I will show which prompts are most effective and why.

The third aspect is a variation of the praise principle.  Readers should be given praise as much as possible for their efforts, particularly since reading is an enormously complex process. Praise should be in the form of positive but accurate feedback. For readers to become strategic, they should be made aware of their reading progress. The main idea is that after some modeling by the reading guide the reader should be encouraged to use self-praise rather than merely looking for external rewards.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

10 Principles for Assisting Reading. 4. Patterning & Fluency Building

For many reluctant readers the task of reading can be quite challeging and can produce a great deal of anxiety, particularly when it is a constant reminder of past failures. Consequently, their response may often be one of avoidance of anything to do with reading. Thus, a situation can develop in which the child would prefer to avoid reading rather than to read and fail at the task. This condition is commonly referred to as learned helplessness. What is needed is an environment whereby readers are encouraged to experiment and to risk-take, to find what strategies work for them without having their weaknesses highlighted.

One very effective strategy that can promote a more collaborative and supportive atmosphere is the reading together technique. The idea is that the reading guide and the reader read orally in unison. The reading guide sets the pace and models the reading by using expression and fluency. The young reader reads along but is instructed to ignor any errors and to keep pace with the reading flow. This works more effectively when the reading follows on from a discussion of the story, hearing the story, and familiarisation of the new vocabulary in the story.

This technique enhances motivation because it builds upon the trusting relationship that has been developed. It fosters competence, particularly with fluency, expression, and using the context beyond the word level. The third motivational element that is promoted is reader autonomy. This later element is enhanced when the reader is expected monitor their own meaning-making while compensating for reading glitches. Autonomy can be encouraged further when the reader is instructed to tap the reading guide on the arm when he/she feels confident enough to read independently.