Catching Readers Before They Fall: teaching reading

chatper 7: I Thought I Knew How to Teach Reading - but Whoa!

I was really hoping that this chapter would give me the magic ticket to teach reading. 

A list of to dos: turn three times clockwise under a silver moon, clap 3 syllable words twice a week, read a Dr Seuss book once a month,  use deliciously descriptive language, always keep the printing pencils sharp, sprinkle with fairy dust - and ta da - they read!

Well, yes.  And no.

Johnson and Keier definitely have a list of things to do.  

But the ta da - how they fit everything together to make meaning from lines on a page -  moment for each child is different - and that is where teaching is an art.

I love what they said about expectations. High expectations.  Of myself as a teacher, and of my students' learning. (p. 110)
• Expect that the lowest-achieving students can learn to read and write. 
• Support children as they learn how to learn
• Believe that you are the one who will teach this child to read and write. 

If I don't expect it, it is very unlikely to happen.  

I need to define my expectation. 

I expect that all my students will enjoy looking at books for pleasure and for information.  I expect that  all my students will look forward to and enjoy story time.  I expect that all my students will develop the skills and strategies necessary to become fluent and comprehending readers.  

Then it becomes an intention.  Teaching with intention is powerful.   
Love this book.
I loved all the ideas using the kids' names to help them learn to read.  On a post that Kimberly wrote about her classroom decor, a reader commented that names are the first gift that a parent gives their child.  Their name is usually the first word that a child learns to recognize.  Let's use that natural connection to build reader confidence and connection to print. 

One of the songs that we sing (phonemic awareness) at the beginning of the year is Willoughby Walloby Woo.  It's fun, it uses the kids' names, and teaches rhyming.   

I made a class book page to go with the song.  The plan is to take a picture of each child lying on their stomach with an-elephant-is-sitting-on-me face.  Click on the elephant to download a copy. 

no pain
Last week I learned about physical literacy at a kindergarten summer institute.  One of the things the instructor kept reiterating was "no pain, no pain".  If kids learn to flinch when a ball is coming their way, they will likely never unlearn it. 

The same is true for reading.  

Johnson and Keier write: Make learning to read easy. (p. 129)

They quote Frank Smith: The main thing we learn when we struggle to learn is that learning is a struggle. (p. 129) 

I guess that is when we use our magic fairy dust.  The art of teaching. 

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1 comment

  1. This one got me: I guess that is when we use our magic fairy dust. The art of teaching. So beautiful. I love how you think. Every. single. time.

    First in Maine


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