Joey continues to impress us with his strong visual memory. It seems as though I can introduce a sight word to him once, and he will soon be able to find it from a field of six. His ability to receptively identify these words in isolation continues to impress me. So we know he is able to recognize words. How do we get him from reading these words to reading and understanding what he reads? How do we measure that? How do we know when he is achieving it and it is time to increase the level of the work we give him?
One way I am working to make leveled guided reading books available to him is to use the on-line books offered from Pioneer Valley press. These books allow me to put Joey’s name into the book (giving him an anchor word on each page), and to print the books out at home. Although Joey and I can take turns reading each page of these books, using his device is laborious when matching each word, and he often makes mistakes, not because of his ability to recognize the word, but in his ability to maintain the motor control of his neck and to select the correct word. In short, it’s exhausting and no fun.
To work with his receptive strength, I began taking the repetitive line from the book, laminating and cutting out each word so that it becomes a sentence puzzle. From there, Joey can use the laminated and velcro words to match what is in the book we are reading together. When the author of the book changes the pattern between “the” and “a”, Joey must check what the author says and then find the matching word. It encourages him to look at the whole word – not just the first letter, and put the words in sequential order – using one to one correspondence – on the page.
This technique allows Joey to practice many of the reading skills all beginning readers are developing, while letting me see how he is progressing in these concepts of print. The greatest problem here, is that Joey has not bought into the idea of the pattern texts within the leveled books. After he’s matched a sentence once or twice, he sees no need to do it again, even if the sentence is changing slightly each time. And I don’t blame him. It is boring, especially when he is used to reading more exciting books with me.
His kindergarten teacher has begun to give him sentences to read to himself and then asking him to match the sentence with a picture to access if he is actually able to comprehend what he is reading. This is brilliant, and a simple way to assess his comprehension without forcing him to painstakingly identify each word in a text on his device.
We know he’s making progress in reading and everyone on his team is dedicated to developing his ability to read. We’re just watching him to determine the best way. Stay tuned as Joey shows us how we can teach him to read!