Here are eight ways you can become a better reading teacher.
One. Evaluate four- and five-year-olds to see if they are ready to learn to read. If a student is not ready, delay.
Two. Teach your beginning readers to encode more and to decode less. Offer daily time to orally create words from sounds that the students already know. Show a picture of a pig. Ask students to sound out pig, not using letters, but using the sounds in the word.
Three. Start with words whose sounds have a one-to-one correspondence to consonant and short vowel letter sounds—no digraphs, no silent letters, no exceptions to the rules.
Four. Refer to letters by their sounds for beginning readers. Explain that letters are pictures of sounds, and that it is the sounds which are important for reading.
Five. Teach children to pay attention to their lips and mouths when they sound out words. Each time their mouth opens or closes, or their lips change shape, their mouth is saying a different sound. When we join together the sounds, we form words.When you introduce the ABC’s, start with a one-to-one correspondence between the sounds of English and a letter or letter pair. This is easy if a consonant makes only one sound, such as “b.” But when a sound can be represented multiple ways (for example, “oi” and “oy”) pick one “default” way for starts and stick to it. Avoid words which are not spelled with the default letters. You might teach boy, toy and coy, but for now avoid teaching boil, toil, and coil. On the other hand, if a child writes, “Mom spoyls me,” ignore the misspelling. But when children repeatedly write a word wrong (“wuz,” for example), tell them the correct spelling so the phonetic spelling does not become embedded in their brains.
Six. Don’t teach concepts such as digraphs, blends, and diphthongs to beginning readers. Teach sounds. If there are fancy academic words to call these sounds, don’t use them. You will only confuse beginning readers.
Seven. Don’t become a speller for your students. Once they are writing and using ABC’s, write difficult words on the board. Otherwise, tell students to sound words out. Also don’t mark misspelled words wrong.
Eight. When you introduce ABC’s, use typefaces which show the versions of letters which children will use when they handwrite. For example, use this type of “a” and “g.” Also, typefaces which slightly enlarge half-space letters like “a,” “c” and “e” are easier for kids to read. (The typeface you are reading is such a typeface.)
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