Sunday, January 23, 2011

Teaching Reading

When I was in college I was required to take one class on teaching reading to elementary students. When I taught in the classroom I took one semester of teaching reading. There seemed to be thousands of strategies of teaching reading.
When I taught first and second grade in the classroom we started out using typical reading books. Then we had a little training and taught Writing Road to Reading. Especially in first grade, we spent so much time working on phonograms and learning HOW to read, that I didn't get to see the results in reading in first grade. Of course there were a few above average students that could read well in first and second grade. I know that my work in first grade with the students was necessary and worth the time. The second and especially the third grade teachers got to see the students reading more difficult words and putting it all together in stories with more of a plot, not just really basic readers.
I began Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading with Lamb 1 when he was about 4 1/2. He learned the sounds quickly and we went on to the next part of OPGtTR-learning simple words and simple sentences. We would do about 10 lessons at a time and then it was like he hit a brick wall and couldn't do one more lesson or read one more word beyond those lessons that we had done before. We did this cycle several times in the last 2 1/2 years. We would do about 10 lessons in OPGtTR, then take a long break and work on other pre-reading and reading activities, after a few months go back and do another 10 lessons in OPGtTR and start the cycle again. I'm not even sure the highest lesson number he got up to in OPGtTR because we would go back and review the lessons he had done before and then do about 10 more lessons. I would estimate he got to about lesson 65 in this cycle. I was careful not to force him to do OPGtTR because I didn't want him to hate reading. We attempted to do at least half a lesson a day on the days he was willing to work on it. I do like teaching with OPGtTR so the problem was not the book.
Last fall I tried a few new things. He was very interested in learning how to spell so I taught some more phonograms from WRTR (the letters of the alphabet phonograms are very similar in both OPGtTR and WRTR) and we did spelling every day this way. I would give him 10 words from the WRTR list to spell with his magnet alphabet letters. Then he could choose 3 or 4 words that he wanted to learn how to spell. At first he wanted to know fish, castle (in his fish tank). A few days ago we did the Bible story of the Good Shepherd so he wanted to know how to spell shepherd, lambs, etc. I also had him read Dick and Jane out of a big book we had. I also had him read Bob books.
We took a break for Ram to recover from surgery. I didn't pay very close attention to his reading while Ram was recovering. Lamb 1 will be 7 in March. I will never know if it is his age, the new things I tried for reading, if he taught himself to read while Ram was recovering, but I suspect it was a combination of all of those.
Last week was our first week working on reading again after Ram recovered. It is AMAZING to me. Lamb 1 wants to do about 5 lessons a day in OPGtTR and it seems too easy for him. Lamb 1 got some paperback Dick and Jane books after Christmas. He wants to read those to Lamb 2 and 3 several times a day (they don't always want to listen to him read). He likes that they aren't as heavy as the big Dick and Jane book that we had. He wants to do more than 10 spelling words daily out of WRTR. I don't think at this pace we will finish OPGtTR this year, but we will make more progress in the next few months than we did in the last 2 1/2 years. We should also make good progress on the WRTR spelling list.
I'm excited for Lamb 1 because reading will open up a whole new world for him. He will be my first student to get beyond second grade (not counting the sixth graders I student taught). I'm learning better how to teach Lamb 2 and 3 after teaching Lamb 1. Lamb 2 began OPGtTR last week. I think after he learns his sounds I'm going to take a break with him for a year or two until he really wants to learn to read. I learned with Lamb 1 that teaching reading is a lot like potty training. We tried reading with Lamb 1 at age 4 1/2 but he wasn't ready. I will still do a lot of pre-reading, practice phonograms, and of course read aloud to Lamb 2. But once he gets to that brick wall like Lamb 1 did, we are going to take a LONG break from OPGtTR. Perhaps he won't get to that brick wall and we will go faster than Lamb 1 did.
I read blogs where children younger than Lamb 2 are reading. I used to wonder what we were doing wrong when neither Lamb 1 or 2 were reading. I've learned that there are big differences between children and especially between boys and girls. We'll continue to plug along daily and I'll try to be patient until all 3 Lambs can read well. I bet that day will come faster than I think it will. I'll also continue to pray for patience and try to make school fun until we get to that point.

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