Welcome back to the last and final post of our Science of Reading Summer Book Study, Shifting the Balance with Mr.Greg (from Kindergarten Smorgasboard) and me, Abbie! This week is Shift 6 and is Reconsidering Texts from Beginning Readers. And just in case you have missed out on the previous shifts, here they are.
- Shift 1: Rethinking How Reading Comprehension Begins
- Shift 2: Recommitting to Phonemic Awareness Instruction
- Shift 3: Reimagining the Way We Teach Phonics
- Shift 4: Revising High-Frequency Word Instruction
- Shift 5: Reinventing the Ways We Use MSV (3 Cueing Systems)
As I read this shift, I was jumping for joy!! All of my thoughts and observations from working with little learners has been validated in this shift! So my first year of teaching full-day Kindergarten, the literacy specialist at our school ‘introduced’ me to the literacy room and all of the leveled readers. She recommended that I use these to help teach my students to read. I chose a few titles and took them back to my room. I pulled my first group and brought them to my teacher table. We looked at the front cover and the VERY FIRST THING I NOTICED is that they couldn’t read the title. I read it to them and we opened the first page. While there were a few ‘sight words’, the book had several words that had spelling patterns that we had never covered. It was here that I started recognizing that leveled readers are not always the answer to guided reading and small groups. Then I spent the next few years using decodables with predictable patterns. Much like the example in this shift, I always had some kids that just looked at the picture and guessed or just made something up. So what does a little learner teacher do in this case?
Review & Evaluate the Texts from Beginning Readers Use to Practice Reading
Honestly, I think this is the hardest part of the whole process!! Many times schools already have a curriculum or specified leveled readers that teachers are ‘required’ to use. Take the time to review the beginning readers for these key factors.
- Do the texts have a mix of sound-spelling patterns that they have already learned and what they are currently learning?
- Do they include the high-frequency words , especially the first 13 that are found the most frequently, that they have learned or are currently learning?
- Are the illustrations inclusive and connect to the words? Or do the illustrations give away too much?
Tips for Creating Independent Readers
- The primary purpose of beginning readers is not to focus on comprehension…but to focus on orthographic learning!
- Expose little learners to lots of books! Make sure to READ, READ, READ to your students. This is where you can have whole-group discussions focusing on comprehension and provide multiple oral language opportunities!
- Allow students to have a selection of ‘Read-All-The-Words’ texts and ‘Read-in-Other-Ways’ texts.
- Small groups/Guided Reading groups should be flexible and focus on phonics instruction, orthographic mapping and then making meaning
I loved this shift and it confirmed a lot of the feelings and thoughts I had on ‘prescribed’ leveled readers. I also gained some new perspective on the differences and reasonings behind leveled readers, decodables and predictable texts. I love the comparisons of them all and how aligned texts should be used as much as possible.
We’ve come to the end of this Summer Book Study, using the the book, Shifting the Balance and I’m so glad that you have joined. I hope you have enjoyed my perspective on each shift and that you have grown your brain and extended your thinking on these shifts. And just as the book says, start small. Make the shift in the areas that you can and extend grace to your self and students if some things are just out of your control.
Happy Summer and I hope your Back to School 2021 goes amazingly!