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GROWING TULIPS AND OTHER READERS

For most of the year, third-grader Haylee had flitted around the reading room, skittish, looking up from her book every few seconds. She read as if a wildfire threatened the east wall of the classroom, looking up every few seconds as if checking to see if danger had broken through. She read as if she needed to know if now was the time to run.



A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON JUST-RIGHT READING


"I can't help it," she cried, flinging out her arms. "These books are so interesting! I just love them."


For some readers, the standard formula doesn't work. These readers need something different when deciding on just-right books.

My job is to stand back and see what they need. It's often a scary place to be - out on a limb without rules to guide me. It's easier to follow the formulas:
  • book readability level + student assessed reading level = just right book
  • six words missed on a page = put the book back.
But, sometimes, inexplicably, our readers bring a formula of their own:
  • desire + interest + need for challenge = success.

COLLECTING MULTISYLLABIC WORDS


The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds, is a joyous introduction to the charms of discovering, savoring and sharing new words.

This simple picture book is an ideal mentor text to start your students collecting delicious new words to use in both their writing and their reading lives.

In this blog post, we'll focus on helping your students collect new words for their reading. Today, we'll hone in on the delights of decoding gigantic, multisyllabic words that are MARVELOUS to SAY.

We'll design our strategy specifically to help struggling older readers. 

THERE ARE SOME CRAZY WORDS IN ENGLISH!

"THE HERESY OF ADVANCED PHONICS"


Some struggling intermediate-grade readers have difficulty believing us when we try to teach them advanced phonics rules. They learned the basic rules of one-to-one sound-symbol correspondence long ago.  They learned those rules easily, in the beginning, and now they're fiercely loyal to that learning. For these students, those rules are absolute.  They are unable to adjust to new, contradictory rules which give four sounds for the letter y (with a reasonable pattern for guessing which one to use) or the suffix “cious” (shus), which, by their rules, should be something like kih-ah-us.  

For many years I thought these students found it difficult to memorize more advanced rules.  I thought the problem was their capacity for memorization.  Memorization was the focus of my mostly futile efforts.  

MAKING SENSE OF COMPLEX SENTENCE STRUCTURES and UNUSUAL USES OF EVERYDAY VOCABULARY

“Sailing Through Sentences”




A crucial area of reading skill - one that trips up many intermediate readers - is the complex sentence structures that they begin to encounter in fourth, fifth and sixth-grade level books.  Many intermediate readers have mastered decoding, yet still experience difficulty reading.  These inexperienced readers have trouble moving from reading simple sentence construction that uses plain vocabulary to more complex sentence structures that employ more complex vocabulary.

My struggling students get caught on vocabulary usages like these: 

“Louie, gun in hand, came sailing through, his drawn pistol in his hand.” (Chocolate Fever, by Robert Kimmel Smith - page 77.) 
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