Ya’ll! I am so excited to join my friend Abby from Kindergarten Chaos for our annual summer book study. This summer we’re reading the book, Shifting The Balance.
We have all been hearing about the “science of reading” or “SOR” lately. We’ve all heard about balanced literacy. And probably, we’ve heard about “the reading wars.” Guess what? I don’t believe any of these are the singular magic bullet for teaching reading. I believe in using the best approaches and combining the tools to make teaching the best it can be. Can I learn from all approaches? Absolutely. And that is the purpose of this summer book study! We’re going to learn and grow and add more tools to our toolbox! Also, what you won’t find is Mr. Greg saying you did it wrong or you should never do this or that. I know we see that on social media but I know we’re all doing what is best and we’re all learning and improving and we’re all on this journey together!
We chose this book because “SOR” is the buzzword in education right now and we wanted to dive in and learn how to improve our reading instruction. As we complete our book study this summer, we will be sharing our takeaways, our questions, and changes we’re making in our own instruction!
Shift 5: 3 Cueing System (MSV)
Overall, for me, this shift is yet another reassurance of what we’ve been doing in our classroom and reassurance of the validity of how we have moved from the 3 cueing system to more of a decoding approach.
This quote from the book really struck a chord with me. When I first started teaching (2nd grade and then moved to kindergarten) my school was doing the Reading First grant. Basically we got a lot of money each year for literacy instruction. The approach was very much a phonics/decoding approach to reading, much like the current push with the science of reading. However, there was little to no comprehension or language involved. Reading First was basically word calling. My kids could decode words and meet the weekly goal of a certain number of words a minute but when you asked what they read, they couldn’t tell you much. So, I am glad that the authors of the book are constantly reminding us that reading is about meaning and that we have to teach all parts of the reading puzzle. My hope/fear is that we all continue to learn and grow as reading teachers and that we don’t sacrifice comprehension and meaning for the sake of decoding.
Here are my takeaways from Shift 5:
A Smaller Impact
So in complete transparency, this shift has been the least impactful for me. This is for a couple of reasons. First, because of my background in Reading First, I have always tried to keep decoding and yes, sounding out words, as our first step in reading. Second, we really started moving away from MSV a couple of years ago because of that focus on decoding.
More Wait Time
This one is hard, am I right? It’s so hard not to just jump in. I need to do better at practicing patience so my students don’t rely on me and are more confident to problem solve and work through the text on their own.
Ya’ll, this happens so much. A kid is reading along and comes to a tricky word. They stop and immedialy look at me. I usually say: “Try it.” or “Use your sounds.” But I like the idea of just pointing or touching the text as a gentle reminder for them to attempt the word on their own. Again, we’re creating less dependency on us and more confidence in their own ability. One thing I will do before we start reading is to remind them of what to do. I will ask them what to do if they don’t know a word. They will say “use our sounds” so we’ve already verablized the step to take so adding in the pointing or touching of the word will be a little easier.
Write It Down
This is something I will do sporadically during small group instruction. We come to a word and we’re struggling to decode the word. I grab my whiteboard and marker and write the word down. We blend the word together then go back to the text to read the sentence. My takeaway from this shift is to be more intentional with this idea. I will write the word on the board and we will study it together. We will look for letters and combinations we know and use those to help us decode the word using orthographic mapping and guided decoding.
Now I want to hear your thoughts! Leave your thoughts in the comments and make sure to join us on Facebook for our discussions about the book and what we’ve learned!