Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Aha moment!

Dr. Seuss Vs. Mercer Mayer

Yesterday, as I was pondering ducks, I was reading with my daughter that is ready to enter the first grade this year. Let me preface, SS#1 (my firstborn daughter) has always had phenomenal language skills. She began speaking at a very early age. Her ability to read however, has been a bit disappointing from a teacher's perspective. She is doing fine, but upon entering Kindergarten she had not mastered her letters/sounds. She showed no interest, and not wanting to make it a negative situation I didn't push her. I allowed the teacher to set the pace and then I pushed from her teacher's side. We all know the pull a K teacher has on their students, I used it to my advantage! Anyway, SS#1 is doing fine now, but I was a little apprehensive to say the least. Yesterday we were reading two different books. First we read Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, thinking it would be easy with all those phonetic rhyming parts. Wrong!!!! I became very frustrated. Why wasn't she getting all those words. They are the same on each page! I thought she knew CVC rules. Has she lost all of her strategies?

We switched books and decided to read Mercer Mayer's book Just For Yu-You! She did phenomenal!

What is different?
Here was my Aha! moment:
SS#1 reads for meaning! Isn't this what I want! Those language skills, they are what support her reading. She needs to have story for understanding. "What makes sense?" That is what drives her throughout the book. She knows her meager knowledge words, her fluency is great, her decoding does not come from breaking words down. Her approach is genius. She approaches text thinking, "What makes sense in the story for that beginning sound?" Duh!?!?!?!?!
While reading the Dr. Seuss book she had no support for meaning, it was all about decoding. I can actually see her skimming the pages looking for picture support and word strategy. She stops at meager knowledge words not because she doesn't know them but she is wondering how do they support the next hard word that is coming up. She is thinking, "how am I going to make that make sense?" Brilliant!
My classroom:
1. How often have I selected a book for a guided reading group because I wanted to teach a new decoding strategy? How often did it have meaning support?
2. Do I teach for strategy or for meaning?
3. Duh, why is this just occurring to me?

I have spent all summer reading all things Reading Workshop. I am gearing up for that purpose. I have been struggling with guided reading. How does it all fit? I think reading with my daughter yesterday solved this mystery for me. I still will have guided reading, I still will be teaching phonics strategies, BUT I am more focused on meaning...and then phonics.
What makes sense?


Stacey Shubitz said...

The first-ever picture book carnival is up on my blog, http://mentortexts.blogspot.com/2007/07/first-ever-picture-book-carnival.html. Thank you for participating! Please consider submitting a picture book for the next one I'm hosting on back-to-school books at: http://blogcarnival.com/bc/cprof_2189.html


Katie Dicesare said...

I think your aha moment is big...doesn't it take us looking at our own kids sometimes to really think and figure stuff out. Loved your insights...I happen to agree that meaning is big! Last year, I found myself using guided reading just for the kids that needed extra support. I am trying to fill readers hands with as many picture books as I can. Thanks for sharing.