Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reading Strategies

I had 2 good teaching ideas for E's reading lessons this week. One of them actually worked.

I mentioned that he was finding it hard to distinguish "b" and "d". So on Monday morning, having gleaned this idea from the Sonlight forums, I wrote the word "bed" in large lowercase letters. Then, I drew a stick figure lying horizontally on top of the word: "bed" looks a bit like a bed, with bedposts on either end. However, if you write "deb", there's no space for your stick figure to stretch out to sleep. So to figure out the difference, you find out if your letter would leave space for your stick figure to sleep if it was at the "B"eginning or at the en"D" of "bed". This seemed to work pretty well, and E started reading the first of his readers that contained both "b" and "d". After a few successful efforts at sounding out words, he looked up at me and said, "Do you know how I tell the difference?" I anticipated hearing something about how well my careful, clever explanation was working for him, but what he said was, "The 'b' doesn't have a tag at the bottom, and the 'd' does." In the font used in his readers, this is true. So it works reliably for him - he's had ZERO struggles since Monday morning when it comes to sounding out "b" and "d". I'm amused that he came up with something that didn't even occur to me, and it works great for him. Hopefully by the time he moves on to reading material that doesn't have that feature, he'll have internalized the other differences between the two letters.

The other great idea I had, which actually is working, was for helping E recognize and remember the word "the". Sounding it out each time was driving him nuts, and he really hated that he just had to remember that it didn't work that way. I'd just been telling him what the word was for over a week, when I had an idea. A while back, I heard a blonde joke (most of which I think are really stupid). A blonde is sitting on a bench with a book, and looking concerned, and saying, "ta-hee! ta-hee!" A brunette comes along, takes a look, and tells her, "'The', airhead!" Well, I didn't need to encumber E with the setup of the joke (both his siblings being blonde), but I told him, "When you sound out 'the', it sounds a bit like laughing: 'ta-hee!'." So now, whenever he encounters the word in his reader, he says "ta-hee...(giggle)...the!" What had been a roadblock for him is now something he finds amusing.

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