Friday, May 1, 2009

Teaching Students to Decode Text

As an elementary school reading teacher, one of your main jobs will be to help many primary students (K-2) to decode basic words and text. Even the simplest words can be a challenge to the struggling reader and your job is to give them the best tools and strategies so that harder and harder words will start to flow off their tongues naturally. In my room, I introduce my young readers to six straightforward strategies that they must memorize and use when they come across a word that they just can't seem to get past. It really works to post these strategies in your room where they will become familiar and helpful friends to your struggling readers as they move towards competency:

Think About the Meaning of the Story - This is key. Students must learn to rely on the context and meaning of the story in order to forge meaning of unfamiliar words. As adults, we sometimes have to do this in our own reading, so this is an extremely important skill that you must help your students to master.
Chunk It - Teach your students to break the word up into more "know-able" parts. For example, the word "unbelieveable" looks quite daunting. But, when chunked up in to "un-be-lieve-able," it will almost certainly be more manageable.
Get Your Mouth Ready to Say the Sound - If a student has reached a total stumbling block, they might need to take it letter by letter.
Reread - Sometimes the students will have to read, read, and read again in order to get the intended meaning of the text. Teach your students to be persistent and they will reap the rewards of reading comprehension.
Skip, then go back. - If the student is totally lost, they might want to try skipping a little bit of the text and perhaps the meaning will become more clear as they move ahead. Then, they can go back and fill in the blanks, using the added information they gained from moving ahead.
Look at the picture. - Usually, this is the students' favorite strategy because it's relatively easy, effective, and fun. Don't let them get stuck on this single strategy. It's definitely a good one, but sometimes it can be the easy way out at the expense of students learning the more in-depth strategies.
Give these strategies a try with your young readers. They need to live them, love them, and learn them. Comprehension and reading enjoyment are right at their fingertips, but they do have to work at it until it comes more naturally. Have fun with the excitement of reading with these enthusiastic young minds!

Article By: Beth Lewis

1 comment:

    I claim the stuff on this site heelps slow decoders. Take a look, you won't like it, but you don't need it.
    Put the site in front of some struggling readers, 4th grade up, and observe them for 15 minutes. Their reaction will be vastly different from yours.
    Chris Bogardus, 828-406-9580