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Archive for September, 2009

Don’t Use Round Robin and Popcorn Reading

Don't Use Round Robin Reading Instruction

Don’t Use Round Robin Reading

Every day in thousands of classrooms, students are called upon to  read out loud. Some teachers use round robin reading, in which every student takes a turn reading a section. Other teachers use popcorn reading, in which students call upon each other to read. For many teachers, these strategies are the primary means of working through a reading text with students.

Teachers who use round robin or popcorn reading stress the importance of reading out loud. They frequently bolster their support of these instructional practices with these claims:

  1. Reading out loud builds comprehension because listening comprehension is generally at a higher level than silent reading comprehension.
  2. Reading out loud is important fluency and decoding practice.
  3. Reading out loud also helps the teacher formatively assess student pronunciation, attention to punctuation, projection, modulation, and inflection.
  4. Reading out loud holds students accountable for reading along with the class, unlike silent reading.

    Popcorn Reading is Poor Instructional Practice

    Don’t Use Popcorn Reading

  5. Reading out loud is a necessary social skill. Students need to be prepared for public speaking. Adults will be called upon to read in front of audiences in meetings, business, church, etc.
  6. Reading out loud can be used to address Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards.
  7. Student love to read out loud and much prefer reading a story out loud together as a class than reading the story silently and independently.
  8. Reading out loud is as American as apple pie. Your teachers did it and look how well you turned out!

But, upon closer analysis, round robin and popcorn reading are not effective means of reading instruction. Instead, having students read out loud with these strategies can actually be counterproductive.

First of all, let’s establish a few caveats regarding reading out loud:

  • For beginning readers, reading out loud an listening to reading are essential reading practices. This article nicely summarizes the importance of read alouds for early readers.
  • In guided reading settings, student reading out loud is necessary for the teacher to complete running records and inform instruction.
  • When allotted practice time and assistance, reading out loud in class plays, readers theater, etc. can be positive learning experiences.
  • My criticisms regarding round robin and popcorn reading refer to individual, not choral reading. Choral reading certainly has its place in reading instruction.
  • Individual read alouds in whole class fluency practice can certainly be helpful. The late Dr. John Shefelbine, a mentor of mine at the California State University, Sacramento, advocated non-choral, individual reading out loud as a guided reading group or even as a whole class. In this approach, students read in “six-inch” voices at their own reading paces as the teacher walks the table or room, listening in and completing 30 second fluency timings.
  • Reading one’s own writing out loud is useful. “Reading aloud helps you cultivate your internal listening skills, which in turn assists you in discovering your unique writing voice.” Reading one’s own writing out loud “sharpens your ear so that you are able to detect authentic dialogue and flowing narrative” and “is the best barometer to tell if your writing is active, flows, has good movement and is working. If you stumble over your own words, you can trust that something needs to be edited or changed” (Shakthawatt). Hearing one’s own words will inform the writer about sentence variety, punctuation, and word choice.
  • In sum, reading out loud is essential in some instructional contexts, but not in round robin or popcorn style practice.

However, the following criticisms of round robin reading and popcorn reading apply to all age levels and levels of reading. Plus, teachers have such effective alternatives:

  1. Reading out loud builds comprehension because listening comprehension is generally at a higher level than silent reading comprehensionThis is certainly true; however, the level of reading comprehension significantly increases when listening to good reading, not poor reading. You, the teacher, are the best reader in the class. Teachers, audio CDs, and videos provide much better modeled reading than jumping from one student to the next, interrupting the flow of the reading. Reading comprehension depends upon the connection of ideas. Imagine watching a twenty-two minute episode of your favorite sitcom with thirty different five-second commercials interrupting the show. Comprehension would obviously decrease. Plus, you probably remember from your own student experience with round robin reading that students tend to skip ahead to silently practice their reading section, rather than listening to the student currently reading. 
  2. Reading out loud is important fluency and decoding practice. Except as noted above in my caveats, round robin and popcorn reading provide minimal fluency and decoding practice. With either method, in a class of 30 students each student will only receive 30 seconds of individual practice in a 15-minute reading. Plus, for fluent readers the non-fluent readers may reinforce poor reading habits, such as inattention to punctuation; for non-fluent readers, the fluent readers read at rates which the struggling readers cannot match. Furthermore, any decoding practice is certainly adhoc and text-dependent. Students need multiple examples, not isolated corrections, to improve decoding. Plus, what may be one child’s decoding need, is not necessarily that of others in the class. So much better to diagnostically assess the individual phonics strengths and deficits and teach to the results of the assessment in small group and individualized instruction with phonics workshops and with decodable readers, such as my Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. See below for FREE diagnostic assessments.
  3. Reading out loud also helps the teacher formatively assess student pronunciation, attention to punctuation, projection, modulation, and inflection. Given, but how inefficient! For example, in my Teaching Reading Strategies reading intervention program, students practice reading out loud along with YouTube modeled readings at their individual challenge levels. Teachers can easily formatively assess and teach these reading skills as they walk the room.
  4. Reading out loud holds students accountable for reading along with the class, unlike silent reading. As previously mentioned with respect to round robin reading, students tend to be more concerned with their own reading, rather than that of other students. Admittedly, popcorn reading does tend to force most students to monitor where students are reading (except for Johnny who always loses his place), but knowing where another student is reading is certainly not necessarily reading for meaning.
  5. Reading out loud is a necessary social skill. Students need to be prepared for public speaking. Adults will be called upon to read in front of audiences in meetings, business, church, etc. While I think this is over-stated, I will re-iterate that learning to read out loud well is important, but not necessarily for the purpose of public speaking.
  6. Reading out loud can be used to address Common Core Speaking and Listening StandardsThis is only incidentally true; read the Standards carefully and the explicit examples provided as to how to address them.
  7. Student love to read out loud and much prefer reading a story out loud together as a class than reading the story silently and independently. Some students do ask for round robin or popcorn reading; some because they enjoy the individual attention of reading out loud; others because (except for their individual turn) round robin or popcorn are passive instructional practices, requiring minimal student effort and accountability. Ask any group of students whether they want to be called on to read in front of their peers. I do so on the first day of school each year. A few students (usually the fluent readers) raise their hand to signal “Yes”; the vast majority do not want to read publicly. For some, reading out loud is the single most-feared classroom activity. Poor readers lose self-esteem when required to read out loud. Peers can be heartless and cruel. Too often, teachers use round robin or popcorn reading to “catch” students who are inattentive, which further disrupts fluency and comprehension and only serves to humiliate students. My take is that round robin and popcorn reading actually traumatize some students and adversely affect their desire to read in school and thereafter. 
  8. Reading out loud is as American as apple pie. Your teachers did it and look how well you turned out! Yes, round robin and popcorn reading are long-established instructional practices, but so was making a child stand in a corner while wearing a dunce cap. We know better now. Yes, many of your colleagues still employ round robin and popcorn reading. Some of them were taught to do so in reading methods classes as part of their teaching credential programs. To be honest, many of you who are reading this article have not considered alternative instructional strategies. That’s okay, but it’s time to do so. Re-read some of the alternative strategies I suggested above and explore more. Believe me, round robin and popcorn reading are not the only ways to get through and teach a story.

*****

FREE DOWNLOAD TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

Get the Diagnostic ELA and Reading Assessments FREE Resource:

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Teach Reading Comprehension

SCRIP Comprehension Strategies

SCRIP Comprehension Strategy Questions

Teachers struggle with how to teach reading comprehension. The implicit-instruction teachers hope that reading a lot really will teach comprehension through some form of reading osmosis. The explicit-instruction teachers teach the skills that can be quantified, but ignore meaning-making as the true purpose of reading.

The die-hard implicit-instruction teachers want to believe that reading comprehension is something caught, and not taught. They want to believe this “feel-good” saying because it assuages guilt and legitimizes pedagogical laziness. These same teachers spend tremendous amounts of time reading out loud and enjoying literature with their students. Occasionally, these “sages on their stages” may drop pearls of literary wisdom to their enraptured audiences. Of course, students enjoy this implicit, spoon-fed “instruction” because it keeps them from having to read challenging text on their own.

The die-hard explicit-instruction teachers believe that every instructional moment  must be planned as part of the teachers’ instructional objectives. If the reading skill cannot be measured and put on a progress monitoring chart, then it is simply not worth teaching. Unfortunately, these teachers focus on the appetizers of reading and not the main course. The appetizers of discreet reading skills are easily diagnosed and are frequently easy to teach. The main course of reading comprehension is difficult to diagnose, even more difficult to teach, and just cannot be quantified on traditional recording matrices.

Perhaps we need to shift our focus: from teaching reading comprehension to practicing reading comprehension. This paradigm shift will help teachers strike the balance between implicit and explicit instruction and turn their students into capable independent readers. If fact, I would advise teachers: Don’t Teach Reading Comprehension. Here’s why and how to help students improve reading comprehension through assessment-based practice.

1. The explicit direct instruction advocates are right: the appetizers are necessary to enjoy the meal. But the appetizers are not the meal; reading comprehension is the meal. So, as efficiently as possible, teach the pre-requisite reading skills and help students unlearn their bad reading habits.

How? Know your readers. Each comes to your class with different skill-sets and deficits. Each needs mastery of phonemic awareness, phonics, syllabication, sight words, and grade-level fluency to master the reading automaticity that will allow them to attend to meaning-making.

Effective whole-class diagnostic assessments that won’t take up all of your teaching time and differentiated reading skills instruction are crucial to setting the main course. However, students need to understand the purpose behind the appetizers. Teachers accomplish this by helping all students “catch up” in their areas of reading skill deficits, while they concurrently “keep up” with challenging reading comprehension strategies instruction and practice. Read about the value and purpose of reading assessments and get the free diagnostic reading assessments that will inform your instruction. Learn about the importance and role of phonemic awareness, phonics, syllabication, sight words, and fluency in shaping reading comprehension for you readers.

2. Use shared reading to model the synthesized process of reading. Shared reading means that the teacher reads stories, articles, poetry, songs, etc. out loud to students to model the whole reading process. Students need to see and hear modeled reading that integrates all of the reading skills with a focus on meaning-making. Without this “whole to part” modeling, isolated reading skills instruction will fail to develop readers who read well on their own. The teacher shares the reading strategies as she reads that help her understand, interpret, and enjoy the text. She models self-questioning strategies and problem solving. Learn how to do a reading think-aloud and teach self-questioning skills.

3. Use guided reading to teach discreet reading comprehension strategies. Guided reading means that the teacher reads or plays an audio book and stops to help students practice a pre-selected reading comprehension strategy. At stops, students share whole group, pair share, or write responses to the comprehension strategies. Students do not read out loud as they are generally poor models. Learn how to teach the following SCRIP reading comprehension strategies: Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict.

4. Teach independent reading by getting students to practice guided reading strategies on their own. Teach students to make personal connections with the text. This does not mean that students relate aspects of the reading to their own experience. Instead, readers access their prior knowledge and experiences to understand and interpret the reading. The focus is on the author-reader relationship. Learn how to teach students to visualize and connect their lives and knowledge to the text to increase reading comprehension.

Assign reading homework with required parental discussion, even at the middle school level. We have to get students practicing reading for at least two hours weekly at 5% unknown word recognition with accountability. SSR in the classroom won’t get this done, even with response journals. Immediate discussion at the summary and analytical levels builds comprehension. Parents can quite capably supervise this independent activity. Learn how to develop a successful independent reading homework component.

5. Teach the reading and writing connection. Reinforce the reading/writing connection by showing how expository and narrative texts are organized and how each should be read according to their own characteristics. Wide experience across many reading genres will help build comprehension and writing ability. Learn the reading-writing strategies that “kill two birds with one stone”  and learn how to teach an effective read-study method for expository text.

6. Teach vocabulary explicitly and in context. Vocabulary acquisition is essential to reading comprehension. Teachers need to expose students to challenging text, teach context clues, teach the common Greek and Latin word parts, teach vocabulary strategies such as semantic spectrums, and practice “word play” and memory tricks to increase vocabulary proficiency.

7. Teach content. Teaching content is teaching reading comprehension. Good readers bring content, prior knowledge, and experience to their side of the author-reader relationship. Content-deficient readers can’t make relevant personal, literary, or academic connections to the text and comprehension suffers. Pre-teaching story background is essential to build comprehension. For example, why not show the movie first, once in awhile, before reading the novel? Pull aside a group of struggling readers and pre-teach key concepts to scaffold meaning.

Remedial readers often practice reading skills ad nauseum, but grow more deficient in content. For example, a seventh grade student who is removed from an English-language arts class for remedial reading will probably lose the content of reading two novels, learning grade level grammar and vocabulary, missing the speech and poetry units… you get the idea. Not to mention, the possibility of losing social science or science instruction if placed in a remedial reading class… Both content and reading strategies are critical for reading development.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , ,

Top Twelve Spelling Trends and Fads

Spelling instruction certainly has had its share of crazy instructional trends and fads. As an author of two spelling books, a reading specialist, and a teacher of elementary school, middle school, high school, and community college students, I have seen my fair share of them over the last thirty years.

For example, during the height of the whole language movement of the 1980s, California stopped adopting spelling programs and refused to fund the purchase of spelling workbooks. Principals were even encouraged to confiscate spelling workbooks from veteran teachers.

In the spirit of factcheck.org, I have listed and rated a dozen of the most popular instructional spelling trends and fads over the last thirty years as “TRUE” or “FALSE,” in terms of recent spelling research.

Don't Teach Visual Spelling

Spelling Is Not a Visual Skill

1. Tracing letters in sand helps students remember how to spell words. Advocates feel that this practice stimulates the visual memory.

FALSE Spelling is not a visual or graphic skill that relies upon visual memory.

2. Spelling can be improved via neuro-linguistic programming in which pictures and letters of words are impressed in one’s head and the student learns words by spelling them backwards.

FALSE While picturing whole words may provide short term benefit, such as memorizing for the weekly spelling test, it is not an efficient strategy for long term conventional spelling acquisition.

3. Spelling is a natural skill that improves with wide exposure to and practice in reading.

Good Spellers Aren't Good Always Good Readers

Good Readers Aren’t Always Good Spellers

FALSE Although there is a positive correlation between high reading comprehension scores and conventional spelling ability (Stanovich and Cunningham 1992), there is no established causal connection.

4. Spelling is hereditary.

HALF-TRUE “The relatedness of reading and spelling may be understood in terms of differences in underlying underlying verbal ability, which in turn may be partly determined by hereditary factors (Pennington 1991).”

5. Spelling ability is related to phonics ability.

TRUE Once students have sufficient practice in how words work at the phoneme level and are able to blend and segment words verbally, they can apply this knowledge at the symbolic level for both reading and spelling.

6. Inventive spelling helps students learn how to spell.

TRUE Good spellers problem-solve which letters and combinations best represent sounds. Spellers who practice application of the sound-spelling connections and the rules of spelling become less teacher, dictionary, and spell-check dependent. Too much focus on spelling correctness on rough drafts may inhibit word choice. Spelling correctness on final drafts is a must.

7. Spelling instruction should be differentiated according to learning styles or modalities.

FALSE Such instructional strategies as recording spelling words for auditory learners, practicing with magnetic letters for kinesthetic learners, and rehearsing with flash cards for visual learners do not enhance spelling acquisition more for some learners than others.

Alternatives to Words Their Way

The Problem with Words Their Way

8. Spelling is a developmental skill that can be categorized into cognitive spelling stages. Advocates feel that students can be challenged to progress through these spelling stages with differentiated instruction and word play.

TRUE Popularized by the authors of the popular Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (Bear et al, 2000) and the widely distributed Qualitative Spelling Inventory, the authors advocate spelling sorts, word study and games and de-emphasized the traditional pretest-study-posttest form of spelling instruction.

9. Studying the shapes of letters and grouping letters for memorization by letter shape aids long-term memory. Advocates claim that this instructional approach is beneficial for students with visual processing challenges.

FALSE Because spelling is primarily an auditory skill of matching letters to sounds, the shapes of the letters are irrelevant to spelling acquisition.

10. Left-right brain strategies help spelling. Advocates feel that the right hemisphere can be stimulated and spelling improved by using wrist bands or looking up and left to memorize spellings.

FALSE There is no evidence that cueing the brain will improve spelling or linguistic ability.

11. What works for one student to develop conventional spelling ability does not work for every student. Not all students learn how to spell in the same way.

FALSE     Effective spelling instructional strategies work for every student. Differentiated instruction should derive from diagnostic assessment data.

12. Spelling is basic memorization. Using pictures can help students memorize spelling words.

HALF-TRUE Although some words must be mastered as “sight spellings” because they are phonetically irregular, and although many words do not follow the conventional spelling rules, it is still beneficial to apply the alphabetic code to spelling. At least 50% of spellings directly match their sounds.

A Model Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

Differentiated Spelling Instruction

Preview the Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. The instructional scope and sequence includes grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Why reinvent the wheel? Also check out my articles on Grammar Scope and Sequence, Mechanics Scope and Sequence, and Vocabulary Scope and Sequence.

FREE DOWNLOAD TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING SPELLING RESOURCES. Administer my FREE comprehensive Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with audio file and recording matrix. It has 102 words (I did say comprehensive) and covers all common spelling patterns and conventional spelling rules. It only takes 22 minutes and includes an audio file with test administration instructions. Once you see the gaps in your middle school students spelling patterns, you’re going to want to fill those gaps.

Get the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment, Mastery Matrix, and Sample Lessons FREE Resource:

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Programs

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has compiled the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  BUNDLES to teach each of the Common Core Language Strand Standards. The full-year grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs provide 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has

weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the author’s program.

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , ,

How to Teach Proofreading Strategies

Proofreading Strategies

How to Teach Proofreading

Before sharing these proofreading strategies, let’s place proofreading in its proper place within the writing process. Although writing process purists would always relegate proofreading to the last step in the process: the editing step, many fine writers choose to proofread throughout the composition process. Especially with the advent of effective spelling and grammar tools on Microsoft Word® and other word processing programs, features such as “Auto Correct” may make the “proofread-continuously-and-throughout” approach preferable for some writers.

Proofreading should certainly be treated differently from writing revision. Proofreading focuses on conventional correctness, while revision works with the writer’s meaning-making, that is, ideas and how these ideas are expressed in exposition or how the story is told in narration. Although the divisions between the two processes are not always neat and tidy, most would agree that spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, proper use of quotes, paragraphs, usage, and some word choice issues belong to the proofreading process, while sentence variety, coherence, unity, transitions, and other word choice issues would belong to the revision process.

The Proofreading Process

The subject of proofreading having been better defined, let’s move on to the proofreading process. Up to 50 percent of all spelling and grammatical errors can be corrected by applying proofreading strategies. Many might question that percentage and ask, “How can writers find their own mistakes? If they knew how to write something correctly, wouldn’t they do so in the first place? No one intentionally makes mistakes.”

Writers make errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, proper use of quotes, paragraphs, usage, and word choice for a variety of reasons. Of course, ignorance is certainly a chief reason. However, writers also make mistakes due to carelessness or distractions. Writers may make mistakes when reflecting back on what they just wrote or thinking ahead to what they will write next. All writers have had the experience of thinking they are saying one thing, but actually saying another.

Although word processors have helpful tools, the human element of proofreading is still essential. There is no substitute for carefully re-reading one’s own work. Even if someone else has looked for mistakes, the writer best knows what is being said.

Proofreading Strategies

1. Proofread one paragraph at a time. Paragraphs are the writer’s divisions of meaning. A new paragraph means a new topic or a new voice. Thus, the writer must deal with the old completely, before moving on to the new. Complete all of the following proofreading strategies before moving on to the next paragraph. The corrections appear at the end of the article.

Practice

Silently read the three paragraphs all the way through. Then, re-read one paragraph at a time, consciously looking for errors. Most writers will find more errors when focused on one paragraph at a time.

“Come look at whats going on, but hurry, I said. I was certain the that admonition was exaggerated as, usual. But, I obediently want outside in to the darkness.

Amanda pointed up to the darkening sky “and said, this is very strange indeed.”

I found it hard too except what I saw in that sky. The the old familar moon was partially covered by a eclipse and had turned blood read.

2. Read the paragraph out loud. Pronunciation informs spelling and will provide an auditory check with the writer’s own oral language skills read for grammar, usage, and word choice.

Practice

Read the following silently at a normal reading pace. Then, read it out loud. Most will find that pronunciation helps the reader identify the correct meanings of the words from the spelling errors. The corrections appear at the end of the article.

Wunts ah pawn ah tyem, dare wur deez tree leddel peegz zat lift en dah zaym playz. Eggsulee, day lift en dare owen homz en dah viludg. Wun uv deez howez s wuz mayd uv ster aw, uhnudder ov stah ix, weth dah vest wun billt owd uv ber ix.

Wun mornen, de viludg wulf kaym dew balow dez peegz howz s dowen. De furest wunz kaym dowen eze, bud de ber ik howz wud ant fahel. De dum wulf klhimd uhp awn de ruf ant juppd dowen dah cha emne. Dah tree leddel peegz hadah boyleenk pahot uv wahder waytink en de fierplaz. Da wulf fel en de pahot ant de peegz ade im fer lahunj.

VN

Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.108

3. If typed on a word processor, try increasing the font size or changing the font to see the words in a new way. Print it out to proofread. Different formats help us see things differently.

4. Focus on one specific proofreading issue at a time. For example, proofread the paragraph out loud for grammar mistakes. Then, proofread the same paragraph out loud for capitalization mistakes, etc.

5. Over-emphasize punctuation when you proofread out loud. Errors in commas and question marks are better identified with this strategy.

6. Use a 3 x 5 card with one corner cut out in order to isolate individual words. Then, proofread the paragraph by reading it backwards with the card, isolating one word at a time. Proofreading by isolating words helps because we often “read through” spelling or word choice errors because we know what we mean to say and because we read for meaning, instead of focusing on individual words.

Practice

Read the following silently at a normal reading pace. Then, read it out loud and backwards, using your finger to isolate each word. Most will find that isolation helps the reader identify spelling and word choice errors. The corrections appear at the end of the article.

Of corse, you were probally more suprised then I to here about the difficulties they where haveing.

7. Teach students and parents the common proofreading symbols and have both practice on each other’s papers.

8. Teach the commonly confused homonyms such as hear-here and there-their-they’re and tell students to be especially alert for these words when proofreading.

9. Waiting a few days allows a writer to edit with fresh eyes-so does having someone else proofread your paper.

10. Use spell check and grammar check on the word processor, but use them judiciously. Spell check misses homophones (words sounding the same, but spelled differently) and omitted words.

Practice

Read the following, noticing the homophones (sounds the same-spelled differently). None of these errors would be caught by word processing tools.

Eye no sum won named Spell Check.

He lives in my Pea See.

He’s  awl weighs their to try and help

When I hit a wrong key.

but when I rite an e-male,

On him I can’t depend.

I kneed two also proof reed

Bee four I push the SEND

Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.113

The E-Mail I wish I Hadn’t Sent

Dear Martha,

I’m so sad about what has happened to you! I’ve never seen such a huge waist, but their loss will be your gain. at least now I’ll get to see more of you. Remember, good things come to those who weight.

Your Friend, Through Thick and Tin,

John

P.S. Cheer up. You’ll find another job soon.

Used by kind permission of Random House from Better Spelling in 5 Minutes a Day, Mark Pennington, ©2001 Prima Publishing, p.114

Answers

“Come look at what’s going on, but hurry, I said. I was certain that the admonition was exaggerated, as usual. But, I obediently went outside into the darkness.

Amanda pointed up to the darkening sky and said, “This is very strange, indeed.”

I found it hard to accept what I saw in that sky. The the old familiar moon was partially covered by an eclipse and had turned blood red.

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Once upon a time, there were these three little pigs that lived in the same place. Actually, they lived in their own homes in the village. One of these houses was made of straw, another of sticks, with the best one built out of bricks.

One morning, the village wolf came to blow these pigs’ houses down. The first ones came down easy, but the brick house wouldn’t fall. The dumb wolf climbed up on the roof and jumped down the chimney. The three little pigs had a boiling pot of water waiting in the fireplace. The wolf fell in the pot and the pigs ate him for lunch.

The End

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Of course, you were probably more surprised than I to hear about the difficulties they were having.

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Check out this complete writing process essay to see a sample of the resources provided in Teaching Essay StrategiesThe download includes writing prompt, paired reading resource, brainstorm activity, prewriting graphic organizer, rough draft directions, response-editing activity, and analytical rubric.

Get the Writing Process Essay FREE Resource:

Find essay strategy worksheets, on-demand writing fluencies, sentence revision and rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, posters, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in the comprehensive writing curriculum, Teaching Essay Strategies
The author’s Teaching Essay Strategies, includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” remedial writing lessons, writing posters, and editing resources to differentiate essay writing instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

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How to Teach Syllabication: The Syllable Rules

As beginning readers begin to recognize the connection between speech sounds and letters (phonemic awareness), use the alphabetic code to begin sounding out and blending letter sounds (phonics), and write down the letters to represent those sounds (spelling), they also begin to recognize certain patterns in single-syllable words.

Precocious Paula notices that some sounds are used more than others: long and short vowels more than consonants. In fact, Paula observes that the teacher always writes the letters representing these sounds in different colors than the consonants.  She also sees that the charts on the walls have these same colors. Bonus-year Bobby notices that every word that his teacher writes has at least one of those vowel spellings. Already-reading Alma may even ask why one vowel sound can have more than one spelling. Conforming Carl may be upset that you won’t let him sound out the teacher’s list of Outlaw Words (non-phonetic sight words).

In other words, through implicit or explicit instruction/practice, children will begin to develop recognition of syllable patterns. As more complex stories and advanced instruction layer in multi-syllabic words, most students identify these syllable patterns and apply this knowledge in their reading and writing. About 80% of students at the end of third grade can readily identify syllables and use this knowledge to guide their reading and writing (of course a higher percentage in some schools and a lower percentage in others).

Multi-syllabic decoding (phonics) and encoding (spelling) are the keys to the kingdoms of reading fluency and academic vocabulary. Reading multi-syllabic words is also a fundamental skill required for the new genres of reading that most students begin in 4th grade: their expository history and science texts.

The 80% require practice and refinement of skills to develop automaticity in reading and writing. The 20% require differentiated instruction: some on basic phonemic awareness, some on the decoding, some on the encoding, some on common sight words. Following is an instructional strategy that will scratch both the 80% and 20% itches. The scratch will provide permanent relief to the former, but only temporary relief to the latter; however, instructional strategies that accomplish both at the same time and certainly worth using.

Spelling Transformers Syllabication Strategy Sample Attachment

Time: The Spelling Transformers whole-class activity takes only three minutes of concentrated, whole class practice, twice per week.

Who Benefits: The instructional activity is beneficial for remedial, grade-level, and accelerated readers and spellers  ages seven and older.

Instructional Objectives: Over the year, students will learn to apply each of the Syllable Rules and all of the phonetic patterns in their reading and spelling.

Tactics: Rather than an inductive “Here are the rules-with examples-now apply them” approach, students practice many examples of each syllable pattern to achieve mastery of that pattern. The syllable patterns are taught, using nonsense syllables  because students ages seven and older have extensive sight word vocabularies, which can interfere with learning how changes in spelling affect pronunciation and syllabication.

Materials/Preparation: The Spelling Transformers activity is designed to use the display projector. Make a card with one corner cut off as a rectangle to isolate each word part (see Sample Attachment) and cut a bottom flap to more easily slide the card on the transparency. Develop nonsense word lists that correspond to the Syllable Rules and follow the instructional phonetic pattern of short vowels, consonants, long vowels, consonant blends, silent final “e,” vowel digraphs, and vowel diphthongs (see Sample Attachment). Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary has 17 such lists ready for your projector.

Directions: Teach students to respond out loud, whole class, as soon as the nonsense syllable is isolated on the projector. Tell students that they must pronounce each syllable out loud, and not just whisper. Continue at a rapid pace for three minutes. Formatively assess student progress and repeat difficult transformers. When students have universally mastered the syllable pattern, explain the relevant rule and then move on to the next syllable rule.

For the Spelling Transformers syllabication activity and more, check out… Teaching Reading Strategies.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

Syllabication is for all ages. Download these FREE instructional resources for your students:

Get the Syllable Awareness Assessment FREE Resource:

Get the Syllable Rules FREE Resource:

Get the Accent Rules FREE Resource:

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