- Modeling the technique: “I’ll focus on the first part of the story. I read it again. I close my eyes for a moment and imagine what I read. I think about a living room, a father and a son lying on the couch, and a mother doing housework. The mother is walking by, carrying the ironing board, and they’re watching the TV. Then something comes up on the TV. What is it? Ahhh, yes, it’s a commercial with a beach, where they can just relax. I got it. Now I’ll draw it on the blackboard. Done. The drawing doesn’t have to be a great piece of art. It’s enough if I can understand it, and it shouldn’t take long to make it.”
- Guided practice: “Well, now we’ll work together on the second part. We’ll read it together. Let’s close our eyes now and imagine what we read. What is happening? Who’s the main character in this part? Yes, it’s the mother. What does the mother say? What face do they make when they hear the news? Let’s draw it. Each one of you will do it while on your desks, and then we’ll do it together on the blackboard.”
Research strongly reject that the “you read first, then you follow” methodology, dividing the text in parts, improves the fluency of students who have a difficulty improving it.
To achieve an improvement in fluency, you need the students to imitate a model after they hear it.
- a) The teacher reads the text. It can also be played as a recording, stopping to repeat phrases or to point out words (this works especially well for students who are bad readers or dyslexic). While the model reading is being done, the unknown vocabulary is explained, and the adult can clarify things in the reading.
- b) The students read and repeat the phrases the teacher read. The teacher and the students can take turns reading different paragraphs. This technique is used a lot with students who have problems reading.
- c) They can also read in pairs. You ask the students to evaluate the fluency of the model or the fluency of their classmates. This makes them aware of the reading processes and motivates them to improve.
- d) Another technique is to use chorus reading. The adult reads, and the whole class reads with him.
- E) Sometimes, the models can be students who have trained in the reading of a text at home.
The following factors are involved with the learning of reading and writing:
- It refers to the phonologic and semantic code the student has. In other words, it’s their verbal language, vocabulary and ability to divide phrases into words, words into syllables, syllables into letters, associate and construct rhymes, say words that start with a specific letter, etc. With children, it’s necessary to work all of these aspects, because they reduce and prevent reading and writing difficulties. Speaking, vocabulary and metalinguistic abilities programs should be introduced to improve their skills, and their teaching should be the absolute priority.
- Motor skills. They affect writing, so when it comes to children, it’s good to do activities that improve them (cutting paper, coloring, etc.)
- The methodology used in teaching. You must carefully follow the steps to teach letters. In children with risk of problems on linguistic codes, attitude, motor skills, reasoning, etc., using the wrong methodology can cause important reading and writing problems.
Any reading and writing problem can be solved in due time. From 4th grade, the reeducation is difficult, and in following grades, the reading and writing problem could become irreversible.
- Verbal reproduction of the sound we’re trying to teach. Teaching the sound (phonologic code). The adult is the model.
- Production of the sound from the students.
- The adult teaches the grapheme. First he’s a model and shows how to start, follow and ends. This has to be repeated many times, and reviewing often (Motor skills)
- Guided learning of the grapheme by the students. Don’t move to the next step until you’re sure they acquired the right sound production and the phoneme’s motor skill.
- From this point on, we introduce activities where the students copy the phoneme.
- When they do those activities well, we go to dictation. Here, we check to see if they acquired the model.
- We go to synthesis exercises. We form syllables mixing the phoneme and the graph learned with the vowels. We review the phoneme’s motor skills, and teach where it starts, where it goes and how to connect it to the vowel.
- We do all the metalinguistic activities: verbal synthesis exercises about the learned phoneme, we switch the vowels, mix them, see the changes they produce in reading, etc. All of these exercises are oral.
- We go to a different phoneme and repeat the process. When doing the metalinguistic activities, we introduce other learned phonemes at the end.
- We do many review activities while the students learn more phonemes. It’s important to do metalinguistic verbal exercises with the letters learned.
- We form words with the categories we worked on, joining the reading and writing processes.
- We divide the words into syllables and corresponding graphemes.
- Form words from given syllables and letters
- Differentiation between words that vary because of a letter or syllable and the association with their corresponding meanings.
- Write phrases with increased complexity, from given words.
- It’s important to do the following oral language exercises at the same time, because they help the student improve his phonological skills: segmenting phrases into words, recognition of the number of words that compose the phrase, omission of a word at the end of a phrase, inversion of words in a phrase… Do the same exercise with words and syllables.
A fluent reading is a reading with precision, rhythm and expressivity. Any program to improve reading fluency has to work on these three aspects. Up to the 4th grade, reading comprehension and fluency are positively correlated. This means that students with good fluency have a good understanding of what they’re reading. From 4th grade onwards, this correlation starts being less intense, and can even become negative in high school. So, starting from 4th grade, there are children whose reading fluency can be adequate and whose reading comprehension can be inadequate, and the other way around.
- REPEATED READING.
This procedure is similar to the one used by athletes. They train by repeating an exercise to improve their time or technique, and they repeat it over and over. It’s proven that reading the same text four or five times helps produce the basic effects of the improvement of reading fluency. This is tedious. To motivate them, it’s good to explain to the students what happens in their brain when they read, and how it can be improved. You teach them to evaluate reading (precision, rhythm, expressivity and comprehension), and the adult practices with them. Once this dominated, you introduce the repeated reading strategy. It’s really useful for the students to read something to their relatives, and to ask all of them to sign it.
- Selection and handing out of the text
- Repeated readings of the text in front of other people like relatives or friends, who sign after the reading.
- Another way is to hand out a text and a number of words per minute they need to read, and ask them to keep reading the text until they achieve that goal.
Usually, the tests used only evaluate about the reliability and validity. For school centers, it’s more useful to use “informal reading inventories” where we can evaluate the students’ precision, rhythm, expression and comprehension, so that we can improve it and create a program at the center. To manage this, we need the following:
1 Select several passages from texts organized by difficulty by grade (from 1st to 6th grade and then 7th to 10th grade). To accomplish this, we select some texts arranged by difficulty. A group of experts evaluates and comments on the selection. It’s better if the texts are narrations at first, and then from 4th grade onwards, they can be exposition texts too. The evaluation is more precise if we also include a list of 20 words. About half of them should be words of frequent use, and the other half should be uncommon words, and some pseudo-words.
2- You define the aspects to evaluate about fluency and comprehension, and you go through a registration procedure so the teacher finds it easier to register the students’ reading (omissions, additions, substitution, inversions, repetitions, syllabication, lack of intonation and pauses, speed and comprehension).
3- You establish the evaluation criteria to determine the students’ reading level. This is fundamental to improve it, because it lets you adapt the texts and activities according to the students’ level, and then it lets you evaluate their improvement and even create flexible groups or group work according to their levels. You can use three levels:
- a) Independent level: the student is capable of doing it alone and without help.
- b) Instructive level: the student needs help from the teacher.
- C) Frustration level: the student’s reading is inferior to what’s expected for his age.
As an example, a girl reads 100% of the words right, so she would be in the first level. If she fails in about two to five percent of words, she would be in the second level, etc. These percentages can be modified according to the teacher’s opinion.
Objective: Teaching the visualization strategy. It helps to visualize the text’s message. It helps to better understand what’s being read, and to remember what’s being studied. It’s really useful when used with students who have some kind of reading or writing disorder.
- Explanation of the strategy and what it’s good for
- Exemplification of the strategy by the adult. Practical demonstration on how to put it in practice.
- Guided practice with the students, directed by the adult.
- Independent practice by the students.
Duration: one hour.
- “Today, we’ll explain a strategy that helps you understand and remember the messages and texts. Have you ever heard that a picture is worth a thousand words? What does it mean? Effectively, we remember images better than we remember words. So, if we want to understand and remember something, it’ll be easier if we use images, drawings and colors. What methods do comics use? Have you ever seen the comics in the newspapers or magazines, where they criticize something with only one image?” Then, I show them a Forges’ caricature, and then a letter sent to the newspaper criticizing the same thing. “Which one of the two do you see first? Which one do you remember?”
- Previewing: “We’ll practice the technique with a text called ‘Who Helps at Home?’ This title makes me think that it’s about a family where some of the children help and some do nothing. Can anyone come up with anything else? We’ll write a hypothesis about the subject of the book, and then we’ll test it.” “This story reflects one of the biggest stress-causing problems… anxiety, depression and even separations. We’ll see what it is about.”
- Reading the story. The teachers serve as models by reading the text. Then, the students form groups of two and take turns reading parts of the text. They can evaluate their partners on their precision, rhythm and expressivity.
- Inferring: Ask questions about what was read, especially the words in bold. “When the author talks about the firefly, is he talking only about the animal, or could he be talking about human beings? Are there human beings who lose their light? How can they lose it? What did the firefly do to gain it back? What can humans do? Do we have to just lie on a couch and wait? What does it mean? Can we cut memory with a scalpel? Well, with a scalpel and anesthesia. What is the author trying to say? Are all humans glowworms? Do we have light and darkness? Why?”
- Connections:”¿Do you know anyone who has lost his light because he’s sad? What did he or she do to feel better? Have you ever lost your light? What does the author say we need to do when this happens?”
- Conclusion: “This is the perfect time for each and every one to write, in two lines at the most, what’s the message the author is trying to transmit with the story. We have the paragraphs’ messages; we can read them and think about everything we’ve discussed about them. What is the author trying to say? Once you have it written down, hand it in so I can correct it.”
- Finish the class by making a brief reference to the strategy learned and its importance.
The following is a list of great teaching strategies:
- The teacher serves as a model and summarizes in few words the first and second paragraph in the text. “We’ll find the most important parts in the first paragraph. Here, we’re CSI agents, and we’re investigating because we want to find the most important clues the book’s author has given us. How do cops solve crimes? They ask questions, think and find important clues and other useless clues. The same thing happens when reading. Some of the things the author says are important, and others are not useful to us. We have to discover who’s the main character in the paragraph, what happens to him, what he does to solve the problem, etc. Well, the main character in the story is a firefly that can’t produce light and asks for help. In this case, it asks an electrician for help. And that’s it, this paragraph says that the firefly can’t produce light anymore and asks for help to solve its problem. Then we see the second paragraph, who’s the main character? What happens to him? What does he do? What’s the reply? Here, the firefly asks help from a vet, and he says the problem is that the firefly is tired, and it needs to see a doctor. We’ve finally found out what happened. The firefly lost its light because it’s sad and tired, and it asks for help. This is the main message of everything we read.”
- Guided practice. With the help of the entire classroom, we extract the main ideas from all the paragraphs but the last. To help them, we write in the blackboard: Who? What? Why? What for? The children answer the questions, which leads them to the main idea. You can also use the visualization technique, imagining a scene of what was read in the paragraph, and drawing it on the blackboard, completing the drawings.
- Independent practice. They have to briefly summarize the last paragraph by themselves. You ask them to imagine the scene, and give them an incomplete drawing of it. They must complete it and write the main idea. The drawing helps them understand it and discovering the important parts in the paragraph.
- You say the cop has almost solved the mystery and discovered the end of the message. It’s just a matter of joining all the clues in the paragraphs, and to do that, we need to think a little bit more.
They are nine:
- Consists of :
- Prediction. It motivates students to read, and it teaches them to make predictions based on the title of the text or the illustrations on it. I.e. The text is titled “Wings Are Used for Flying”. You write hypotheses about what you think the book is about, like eagles flying, how birds learn to fly, etc.
- Previous information: The teacher gives a preview on what the text is about without talking about the whole plot. For example, “We’re going to read about injustice or abuse…”
- QUESTIONING. Asking questions.
To understand what they read, the readers need to ask themselves questions about what they’re reading. For example, “What happened to the man?”, “Why was he sad?”…
- CONNECTIONS. Connect the reader’s previous knowledge with what’s in the text, context, etc. For example, “Has anyone read a similar book?”, “Do you know anyone who has been through similar experiences?”
4 VISUALIZING. It’s good to visualize the message in the text. Drawing the main message works well with children under 4th grade.
- VOCABULARY. You have to decide what vocabulary you want to teach to the students, and then design a learning strategy. The students can have a small notepad where they write down the words they learn. This notepad has to be checked often, and the teacher can even ask about the words every once in a while. During each reading, the vocabulary that the teacher wants the students to learn is written in bold letters, outlined, etc. Everyone collaborates to explain what it means, and then they add it to their new vocabulary notepad. Keep making many references about the acquired vocabulary.
6- MONITORING. Teach the students to ask themselves whether they understand what they read or not. They started reading with a hypothesis about the text, worked on the first strategy. They have to see if the hypothesis was correct or not, if it needs to be modified, etc. This strategy is really useful to improve focusing on a task.
7- SUMMARIZING. Summarize the main ideas. The students learn to extract main ideas from every paragraph.
8- INFERRING. They are taught how to identify inferences. Inferences are things said explicitly in the text.
9-EVALUATING. Critical evaluation of the process.