Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fluency Part 3 Words within words

One way to develop fluency is to look for words within words.. For example, the word 'updated' has 'date' as its base word with the 'up-' as a prefix and 'ed' as a suffix. The word 'updated' can be made easier to read when the word within-the-word (date) is recognised automatically and the affixes are tacked on.

The more information that readers have to process the slower the reading will become and the less fluent it will sound. However, reading is made easier when information is processed in larger chunks. The larger the chunk the more efficient the reading will become.

Good readers look for cues while they are reading. They sample the text for the best cues that will enable them to work out the word by touching the fewest possible bases.  Α good  reader may apply a number of sampling strategies. They may predict words by sampling the first letter and/or consider the overall shape of the word to confirm to correct their predictions. Sometimes they will see a word within a word and recognise it automatically. This process minimises the amount of information that needs to be processed and enables fluent reading to take place.

One useful method to help children do this is to use the 'L' plates or two 'L' shapes pieces of plastic to focus attention on a word within a word. Often, the other letters in the word will interfere with the identification of the root word so this masking technique is used initially to enable focal attention. To make the 'L' plates take an ice-cream container lid and cut out two small 'L' shapes. Invert one of the 'L's to form a rectangle so that they can be adjusted in relation to one another to fit neatly around the root word and mask the affixes. In the example below the word 'flapping' was masked to show the root word 'flap'.

Initially, this process should be modelled by the adult. The child should then use it to do the same independently. Eventually there will be no need to keep using the 'L' plates and the reader will recognise the root words automatically.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sleep time (really ground breaking stuff!)

In the last Blog (last night) I discussed using routines and bedtime stories and how effective this was for a couple of our grand children (Now you know, no good keeping secrets on cyber-space!). It just so happens that a couple of our other grand kids were sleeping over for the night tonight. Now the bed time reading routines can work well to a point, but when  they are so excited about sleeping over you need to pull out the big guns. I mean the 'Fair Dinkum' really big guns like Ernest Borgnine reading a story online. Now, if what I said last night doesn't work then follow-up with this.

So, after reading some bedtime stories and they still won't go to sleep then drag out the laptop and goto storyonline online and let the kids listen to top actors reading interesting books. This works much better than valium and they can hear what good fluent reading sounds like. Now we are really getting back on to the fluency topic!

I just had to be a bit spontaneous - this stuff is literacy as it happens! A sort of literacy news flash! Something really ground breaking!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Benefits of Bed Time Reading

So you want your children to have a good night's sleep?

The main thing is to set up some strict routines of an evening. Make sure that you have set times for watching TV, play time, bath time, dinner time, reading together, and reading quietly in bed. The reading silently time should follow a reading together session where there is some quality time for sharing. Children are often quite  happy to read silently after having a shared reading time.

Fluency part 2

It is important for the child to know what sort of thinking processes go on during reading. The reading guide should model the thinking process by verbalising the thoughts as they happen.  This is referred to as  'thinking-aloud' and it seeks to make the thinking processes more explicit. For example, the reading guide may stop at the end of a sentence and talk about what he or she has imagined or pictured while reading the passage.

At other times the reading guide may come to a difficult word and tell how he/she arrived at the correct response. As we have discussed before it is often a good idea to model using compensatory strategies to restore meaning. For example, "This, word does not sound right, I'll read the beginning of the sentence to gain more clues. Oh, yes, and he first letter of the word helped me to work it out. Oh, yes it now makes more sense and it looks right."

The guide should demonstrate that reading is not just word calling. It is an active meaning making process. The reader negotiates with the text by connecting text ideas with his/her experiences and understandings. Reading fluently helps but not at the expense of engaging deeply with the text. Reading is not a perfect activity and when children make errors they realise that mistakes are part of the learning process.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fluency Part 1

Fluency is important for comprehension because words are more meaningful when read in relation to other words.

One way to increase fluency is to use the repeated reading strategy. This strategy is often used to help make texts sympathetic to the reader. What is required is that a more expert reader will read the passage first to the child. Expert reader modelling will expose the child as to how a particular text should be read. The first reading should demonstrate speed of reading, expression, and intonation.

Before the initial reading of the passage the reading guide/expert should ask the child if he/she can see any difficult or unfamiliar words in the passage. If the child places a finger on each unfamiliar word and all the fingers on one hand are used (assuming that there are at least 100 words on the page) then the passage may be too difficult for the child. However, the technique of repeated readings can overcome this problem to some degree because the child can hear and see the word as it is being read aloud. However, each unfamiliar word should be discussed and put into context by giving examples of how it is used. It is important to browse through the passage and talk about the pictures in order to link the text ideas to the child's background knowledge or experiences. This is made more effective when the parent or caregiver strategically uses the new word while relating the text to the pictures. These strategies will enhance the child's ability to construct meaning during the reading.

 When it is the child's turn to read he/she has already processed the meaning and developed a feel for the language of the book. The child will be more able to predict and speed up the reading because to some degree he/she knows what is coming up in the story. This makes decoding easier because it is easier to decode a word that you expect to see. This process reduces the load on working memory and allows the child space to think about the story at the ghist or global level.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How do we know that our efforts are becoming fruitful?

The burning question that all parents/caregivers want to know is, "How do we know that our efforts are becoming fruitful?"

Is the answer that my child can now read bigger words and longer sentences?  Or is it that now my child can read fluently and with expression? These are certainly important indicators but there are many children that can read bigger words, longer sentences fluently and with expression. These are not the only considerations because there is now a great deal of evidence that many children can do this but without clearly comprehending what they have read. Therefore, those of us who are seeking to assist children in their reading need to focus on reading for understanding.

Clearly, children who understand what they are reading should be able to answer some basic questions that go beyond the mere recall of facts from a story or passage (more about this in a later blog). Another indicator is that the child is being quite strategic when he/she reads. Being strategic means that your child should be able choose from a repertoire of reading behaviours that go beyond the mere decoding of print. They should be sampling the text, predicting, confirming, or correcting as they monitor their meaning-making while reading. What is certain is that when your child self-corrects he/she is actively demonstrating that this vital process is in operation. The fact that a reader can self-correct is an indicator that he/she is sampling the text, predicting, and correcting - as opposed to confirming.

On the other hand, an example of the confirmation process becomes obvious when your child miscues a word but the meaning does not change. In terms of comprehension, the child has sampled the text and predicted but the word may be a synonym and not the actual word in the text. This is a strong indicator that your child is processing the text at a much deeper level and has confirmed that the meaning fits the context of the passage. This is why I have suggested that the reading should not be interrupted because good readers do this naturally and quite frequently. The guiding principle is that meaning always dominates perception and that we should purposefully read for meaning.