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Daily Lit Bit

June 20. 2017

Teacher Tip: Use Games to Help Struggling Readers

Children need explicit teaching, prompting, and reinforcing during reading in order to learn how words work. Adding the engaging activity of a game can help struggling readers practice searching for the visual features of words and develop automaticity in word solving.

Here are some guidelines for using games as part of your instruction:

  • Have children play games with words that are known or that they can very easily solve. The idea is to develop automatic rapid recognition.
  • Be sure that the materials (word cards, for example) used in the game are very clear, standardized print so that children can recognize word features easily.
  • Play a game after directly teaching children how to play it.
  • Make sure that there is a cooperative spirit among the players (it’s only a game).
Some examples of word games you might recognize include:
  • Snap!
  • Concentration
  • Word Ladders
  • Lotto
  • Follow the Path

To learn more about games to play with struggling readers, see When Readers Struggle by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

June 13. 2017

Teacher Tip: Write Letters Between You and Your Students

Your goal in using a reader’s notebook is to help students extend and express their thinking about reading. Being expected to write about their thinking places an extra layer of consciousness on readers. They are more likely to remember details and to store up responses they feel deeply about and want to include in their writing.

Letters between you and your students are a collection of thoughts over time as they develop as readers. Think of them as a written conversation about books. You can help children better communicate their thinking in several ways:

  1. You can model and demonstrate ways of expressing thinking through minilessons. Write a series of letters yourself and share them, letting students notice places where you have written about your thinking in various ways—noticing the language of the text, critiquing the text, making personal connections, comparing and connecting texts, and so on.
  2. You can talk with students about their letters during conferences, providing specific feedback.
  3. Students can bring their notebooks to the community meeting, finding places in their letters where they demonstrated their thinking and sharing selected paragraphs from their journals with partners or in small groups.
  4. You can lift or scaffold student’s thinking through your ongoing written exchanges with them.

Once you begin using reader’s notebooks, you’ll find that responding to students is fascinating rather than arduous If you enter into a genuine conversation, keeping strategic actions in mind, you will inevitably stretch your students’ thinking.

From Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2006 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.