It is time for me to lighten things up a bit after my emotional post last week. One of the things I love about working with kids is that they always manage to teach me. Prior to this past week, I had already known that there are an incredible amount of words that don’t follow the reading rules in the English language. What I didn’t know is how much this would be thrown in my face in the middle of my lessons with one particular small group of students that tend to ask questions (which is fantastic, BTW). It was a week of hilarity on the reading front proving to me, once again, that ONLY teaching phonetic rules and phonics is NOT enough to develop a reader.
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As I stated earlier, one of the groups I read with tends to question things (which I love!) I had already taught the general overview of rules such as the silent e, when a vowel should or shouldn’t say its name, and other long vowels/short vowels rules like that. Giving mini-lessons followed by authentic reading is what works for me. I’m not boring the students and they immediately get to practice what’s just been explained.
We had covered a number of examples. Then, when reading a book together, the word ‘onion’ came up. Hmmm. A hand went up. “Why does the word ‘onion’ not either start with
I tend to put words that don’t follow the rules in ‘word jail.’ Readers simply have to learn them even though they break the rules. The fact that it is being questioned shows me that these kids are paying attention and starting to transfer their knowledge. This is awesome! ‘Onion’ is a jail word.
Vocabulary and Reading
More reading together brings us to some new vocabulary. The sentence in the book we were reading together was, “The moose waded in the water.”
A hand goes up. “What is the moose waiting for?” I eat up the opportunity to go through a mini-vocabulary lesson. Although each of the students knew what a wading pool is when it came to extending knowledge and using examples they would already be familiar with, they hadn’t come across using the root word ‘wade’ in other ways. We go through the definitions of ‘wade’ and ‘wait’. Both ‘wade’ and ‘wait’ DO follow the rules. They are just following different rules from each other.
BTW, if you are particularly great at annunciating the difference between ‘waited’ and ‘waded’ in your everyday talking, I commend you. I am not and neither are any of the students in this group apparently.
One side note here is that readers need to be taught what a root word is and the common suffixes that will be added onto them. I would argue this is especially true for the suffixes ‘ing’ and ‘ed.’ This helps tremendously in both reading and writing.
One Last Lesson for Me
Another reading rule covered this week when reading was when we see two o’s together as in the words ‘cool,’ ‘pool,’ and ‘soon.’ I tend to call these o’s “ooey o’s” simply because they tend to make the oo sound (like a long u sound, but without the quick y sound in front of it). Wouldn’t you know it? The word ‘wool’ was in the same story that I went over that rule in! Yep, you guessed it! There was a question about this also.
As you can see, ONLY teaching phonetic rules and phonics is NOT enough to develop a reader. Although it is important to go over the many rules of reading, it is equally important to go over words that break the rules during authentic reading time. Having kids that question these rules is fantastic as this truly does demonstrate that a rule is understood and starting to be transferred into everyday reading. This is when those exceptions to the rules become memorable! Don’t forget to have fun with it and see the humor in these moments. 😉
I know I’ve recommended this resource in previous posts, but I will recommend it again. My absolute favorite resource to use when teaching reading is The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. What I LOVE about this resource is that each and every page is a one-page lesson with exemplars. Each page also states the reading level that the lesson is ideal for. Units are divided into sections such as comprehension and fluency, then filled with those one-page lessons. It truly is awesome for anyone in a teaching role.
If you are looking for reading strategies to go over with individuals, definitely check out some of my other posts like The Best Reading Comprehension Strategies, Five Quick Tips for Fostering a Reading Environment, Tips for Helping Readers Make Inferences, Introducing Tone and Mood to Young Readers, and Things Watching TV and Reading Should Have in Common.
How About You?
Are there any words that you or your child have come across that seem to break all of the rules? What are your favorite strategies for teaching kids to read? Have you had any hilarious moments on the reading front? Let me know in the comments below.