Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Practice Reading In Drag

Yes it is Tuesday again. My mom, Karen Montgomery is guest posting. Enjoy!
No, no, no…I am not talking about cross-dressing. I’m talking about something else, read on. A long time ago a professor taught me this strategy. It has worked incredibly well for so many children that I have taught and I wanted to share it with you. A great way to teach children to read is to model text that is above their grade level. That’s the drag. Wikipedia explains drag to a swimmer like this: “Drag suits are used for increasing the resistance against the swimmer in order to help adjust the swimmer to drag. This way, when swimmers switch back to normal practice suits they swim faster as a result of feeling less resistance.” I have proven time and time again that the same resistance works for reading comprehension and fluency. Here are the steps to take for success:
  • Choose a book that is about 1 year above the actual grade level of reading. If you’re reading with a second grader, pull a third grade book.
  • You will begin reading with the child in small portions. For a first grader, that might be two to three sentences and for a third grader, that might be a paragraph or two. Read with fluency and intonation (expression). Track (follow under each word with your finger) as you read it and have the child follow with their eyes. Make sure the passage is small enough for the child to see and memorize what you are saying.
  • Have the child read the passage back to you. Since this is not a decoding (sound-it-out) strategy, if your child comes to a word they do not know, simply tell them the word. They too, need to track as they read.
  • Do this “my turn, your turn” procedure for as long as you would normally have a practice reading session.
  • To begin the next session, go back in the text a bit (a page or two) and remind them of what they read in a brief discussion. In the discussion, hit some of the key words that were in the text. Something like this…”Remember yesterday we read about a humpback whale singing a different song each season.” Have the child read the familiar text independently.
  • Switch back to “my turn, your turn” when the child comes to new text. And, as the words become more and more familiar, make the “turns” larger and larger pieces of text.
Practice this strategy a few weeks and you’ll see a confident reader emerge. When your child practices above grade level (the drag), they will read “with less resistance” at their independent level. Remember, this is a site word, vocabulary building strategy. It is not a structure, decoding (phonics, spelling patterns, etc.) strategy. I’ll share some of those at a later time.
I’d love to hear how it’s going with this idea! It’s your turn, have fun!

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