Reading Instruction Rabbit Hole #SOL23 8/31

Consider listening to this song as you start reading this post. With apologies to Joni Mitchell…

🎜Help me, I think I’m falling
Down the reading instruction rabbit hole again
When I get that crazy feelin’, I know I’m in trouble again…🎜

I may or may not have quite a few (ahem, a very large number of) tabs open on (more than one window on) my computer. They may or may not be largely (ok, almost entirely) about teaching reading to adolescents. I may or may not be trying to teach myself how to teach reading by consuming as much information as possible in the (already full) hours after work and before (ok, often well after) bedtime while the course is already in session. It may or may not be true that this is part of the reason that I’m writing this at 8:30pm rather than, well, any earlier hour.

I know the title of this blog is “Persistence and Pedagogy” but I’m usually at least a little more balanced. These days, I feel like I’m all persistence in search of pedagogy. So far, all the podcasts and books and articles have taught me one thing for sure: teaching reading is something that someone should take an actual class in, ideally before they are given a class which requires them to teach reading. But here I am.

On February 5, I turned to Twitter. I tweeted: 
Have successfully lobbied for a hs #reading class for rdrs who need extra support.  Now not sure where to start. 10 kids every day. Have done screeners for phonics & vocab. Everyone’s needs are different. Ideas/best practices for this class? Help? 

I got lots of good ideas. Y’all – there are LOTS of good ideas. So. Many. Ideas. The good news is that there are a lot of other teachers out there (I see you Anne-Marie!) doing all sorts of good work with this, and plenty of them are willing to share. My Knit Night crew has lots of ideas to offer, too. There is a lot to read about reading, let me tell you.

Today, I realized that our class may have found our rhythm: we open with a bit of phonics, practice with prefixes and suffixes, create words and brainstorm word families, echo read, choral read, read aloud independently, then take a break. Whew. Next comes vocabulary, then some work with sentence structure, maybe a word game & then the bell rings and, exhausted, we leave. Mostly, the cell phones stay away. Mostly, the students will at least whisper-read the words out loud.

I’m keeping documentation of student learning, and I really really hope this course has some positive outcomes for these students because reading well feels so desperately important. If you’re a reading teacher & you have ideas, feel free to send them my way.

🎜Help me, I think I’m fallin’ in the science of reading abyss 
It’s got me hopin’ for the future and worryin’ about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot, hot theories come down to smoke and ash…🎜

12 thoughts on “Reading Instruction Rabbit Hole #SOL23 8/31

    1. Ok, so your job is to explain word ladders to me. Do you create them or do you find them? And do you use target vocabulary? or is it mostly word patterning? (See? I need all the help!)


  1. I can share some folders with materials for teaching syllable types and syllable division rules… if decoding is what they need. Sometimes it’s an aha for older students to understand these concepts. Just a thought! But I love that you’re trying shared reading in high school! Always happy to chat and brainstorm together!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would love that! I’ve done enough assessment now to know that most of my students (mostly 9th grade) can decode but get quickly stuck on multisyllabic words. Today we looked at the doubling rule for vc+ -ed or -ing. What a revelation! They also learned that -es follows s/ss/x/ch/sh – another ah-ha. It’s like they didn’t quite get all the rules when they were first learning to read & they’ve just been sort of filling in the gaps willy-nilly.


  2. One good rabbit hole deserves another… Have you seen this commercial: I appreciate this slice highlighting key reading precursors like decoding, fluency, and vocabulary that are integral to readers of all ages. On the comprehension front, I have a soft spot for signposts described by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst – (They’ve cooked up ones for nonfiction patterns, too.)


  3. This is tough! I’ve taken reading classes—a few, but that was decades ago. I do remember when my son was in first grade he had a clunky oral reading habit, a stop and go manner of reading. I sat w/ him and we read aloud together so I could model pacing and he could get a feel for cadence. That did the trick after only a few days. I also think performance activities can help adolescents who are still finding their reading g chops. This allows them to begin hearing voices in their head rather than simply saying words, so consider some fun drama skits that they practice over time. It may show them how could they can be w/ words. Hope this helps a smidgen.


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