Reading Recovery: The Power of Collaboration

When working with the most struggling readers it is not uncommon for us to come across a student that is a bit puzzling.  I currently have a student who plateaued in his progress a few weeks after roaming.  During roaming and our first few weeks of lessons, I observed some exciting learning happening from my modeling and shared experiences.

  • He learned a few words (with some lapses).
  • His known letters increased from 8 to 36.
  • His known sounds increased from 2 to 10.
  • He understood the difference between a letter and word.
  • He could show me the first letter and last letter of a word.
  • He could sort letters quickly by features.
  • He could record some dominant sounds when writing.
  • He read patterned text with ease.

I struggled greatly when attempting to have him read less patterned text.  For support, searched through Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals and thought that it might help to follow the procedure for repeated readings (p.  116).  I thought that he might have been in patterned text so long that he did not have a sense of story.  By the third reading my student was able to read less patterned text with mostly accurate reading.  If he came to an unknown word he would usually rely on meaning.  I supported him with cross-checking using visual information.   During the running record, on the following day, my student would completely fall apart.  He invented, took his eyes off text, and looked frustrated.  He started to complain that he couldn’t remember the books.  I knew that I was doing something that was getting in the way.  I needed another set of eyes to help me adjust my teaching.

Gen and I spent about forty minutes looking through my student’s running records and my plan for his lesson.  We made some tentative changes and additions to my lesson plan.  During his lesson, Gen scripted my teaching moves and my student’s responses to them.  She also supported me by providing suggestions of language that I might want to use.  After the lesson, we spent an hour debriefing about our observations, planning next steps and pulling books that might best support future teaching.  The following questions helped me with planning where to go next.

  • Was I requiring him to look at print in detail?
  • Was I providing an explicit demonstration of how he could use the first letter to start or check a word?
  • Was I calling on him to use his newly discovered letters and sounds while reading?

I seemed that although my student had grown in his item knowledge I may not have given him enough support to use this knowledge when interacting with print.  I wanted to keep the emphasis on making meaning, but I was forgetting about the delicate balance of the cueing systems.  In future lessons, I want to make sure that my student is effectively using meaning, structure, and visual information.  I needed to keep in mind that the cueing systems are all equally important.

Gen and I also discussed how to use writing to support this work.  Sound boxes would be helpful in requiring him to slow down and pay more attention to the details of a word as he records it letter by letter.  We noticed that I was spending a lot of time on letters and not as much with extending words on his practice pages.  I wanted to be more consistent with extending words to help expand and strengthen his known writing and reading vocabulary.

Sometimes we need a second set of eyes to notice things we might be missing when we are in the thick of things.  Do you have a student who is puzzling you?  I encourage you to reach out to somebody who can be a second set of eyes to help you work out a plan going forward.

In case you have not heard yet the Reading Recovery Council of North America has recently started their own blog.  The most recent post was very timely for me:  The Balancing Act:  Integrating Sources of Information in Text Reading written by MaryAnn McBride.  It is a thought-provoking post and well worth reading.   I am very excited to continue following their blog!

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One thought on “Reading Recovery: The Power of Collaboration

  1. Pingback: Predictions of Progress: Do They Make a Difference? – Literacy Pages

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