As a teacher I find I get myself into certain language habits. Some of them work, and some need fixed. Everyone remembers the "good reader" language which we replaced with "smart reader" to which we decided maybe it was just better to use the word "reader." Then there was "I like the way you….". This was a tough one for me to break. It got results! However, after reading Peter Johnston's book, Opening Minds, I knew I had to get away from it. I've tried to replace "I like the way you…" with "I noticed…," but I'd be telling a tale if I told you I didn't slip back into old habits now and again.
Reading Strategies to Sustain Reading
There are many reading strategies and prompts we use for beginning readers depending upon their need. Do they use meaning? Do they think about what sounds right? Are they using visual cues as they read? Most importantly, do they keep these three things in balance. To help, we go through a progression of reading strategies which help students sustain reading.
- Think about what makes sense.
- Look at the picture.
- Use the beginning letter. (Or as I hear some say, "get your mouth ready." Which progresses into greater sampling of visual information: first part, chunks, check the end, etc.)
Skip itTry it and read on.
A phrase I'm trying to help my students grow past is "skip it" in their reading. This was a strategy we often taught students who needed to use a little more meaning to attempt unknown words. Often skipping a word and reading on gives a reader more context to help solve. Then readers can go back to reread and correct the error when they know which word makes sense in that space. It's a little like what we do when we have students practice with cloze reading texts we have prepared.
Years ago, while training for Reading Recovery, our trainer suggested it might be better for us to replace our "skip it" language with "try it and read on." At first I was a bit skeptical, but quickly discovered she was absolutely right. First of all, trying something and reading on keeps the pace of the reading which helps meaning. Secondly, it helps readers maintain fluency as they read. Additionally, it causes readers to think about what they do know in this place and gives them something to try. Honestly, when readers attempt they are most always right the first time. If they are not, reading on usually gives them the additional information they need to return quickly to self-correct.
Consistent language matters for readers, and matters especially for those needing the most support. "Try it and read on" is one way readers can move past those tricky parts where they are uncertain to develop confidence in solving.