3rd Grade Reading Transition

 

reading tutoringIf you were asked to name a pivotal year in school, one that influenced future academic success for years, what would you say? Junior high, senior year of high school, the first year of college? While these are all important landmarks in an individual’s education, I would argue one of the most critical years is third grade.

 

Yep, you heard that right, third grade. The third grade represents a major shift in what students learn and how they are taught, especially when it comes to reading. The focus shifts from learning to read – decoding text and sight words – to reading to learn. Instead of simple sentences and predictable spelling patterns, students are now being asked to read about a topic and learn from a text.

 

There is also a shift from reading primarily fiction text to reading mostly nonfiction. Students are asked to read, absorb, and use information. This is a pivot point for many readers, especially those who struggle. If children are not fluent readers by the time they enter third grade, they are likely to fall behind, and the gap will continue to grow if appropriate reading intervention is not implemented. This has major effects on a child’s academic future. A study conducted in 2011 by Donald J. Hernandez and released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who lacked proficiency in third-grade reading were four times as likely as their on grade level peers to drop out of high school.

 

Research shows that students with a range of reading disabilities who receive appropriate intervention focused on accuracy and fluency by the end of 2nd – 3rd grade will usually catch up (Torgesen et al., 2003). Unfortunately, students who get appropriate intervention after 3rd grade do not catch up in terms of reading fluency. This group of students may get close to their peers in accuracy; however, fluency, while it improves over time, remains behind peers and presents a significant reading impediment.

 

If your child is behind in reading as they approach or enter third grade, it is imperative that they get the reading intervention they need. Here are a few ways that you can help support your child with reading at home.

 

  1. Focus on reading a variety of texts. Even if your child hasn’t even started school yet, make sure that you are reading both fiction and non-fiction to them. Read functional texts as well, like the back of the cereal box, graphs, signs, and directions. Point out different text types and what their purpose is (to inform, to entertain, to teach how to do something).
  2. Work on phonological awareness skills. From preschool, children need to be working on manipulating the sounds in words and syllables. Ask your child to stretch out the sounds in words, blend them together, break words into syllables and generate rhyming words. For a more complete list of ways to practice phonological awareness skills, check out our blog dedicated to the subject.
  3. Make sure your child is still getting explicit phonics instruction. Children who struggle with reading need direct and explicit instruction in letter sounds. Check out our blog for some ideas to practice phonics skills. If your child shows significant deficits in phonics, you may want to think about signing them up for our online reading tutoring program.
  4. Have your child read out loud. Parents can often feel a bit blindsided because they think their child is doing fine. Starting in about third grade, we tend to stop asking students to read out loud. This makes it difficult to know if your child is struggling. You can make reading out loud fun and even trick your child into thinking it is a game. One activity to encourage reading out loud is to trade off. You start reading a text and point to your child when you want them to take over. Go back and forth until you finish the text. You can also have your child record themselves reading a story and play it back so they can hear how they sounded. Some children love to read to their pet. Particularly older children, as they are not self-conscious while reading to their furry friend. This may be the only time an older child will willingly read aloud. Encourage them to use appropriate expression and even voices for different characters. Also, like with other texts, make sure that you are reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction text.
  5. Ask your child about what they are reading. If your child is reading a fiction text, a few good go-to questions are: Who are the characters? What is the problem in the story? What is the solution? Would you have done anything differently? Why do you think he/she/they did that? How is the character feeling right now? Make sure to always ask for justification from the text. For example, if your child says a character is sad, make them prove it using examples from the story. If your child is reading a non-fiction text you can ask things like: What is the author’s purpose? What is the text mostly about? How do you know? What type of text is this? Why did the author write the text? Is there anything you would like to know more about?
  6. Encourage your child to monitor their own comprehension. Often, children who struggle don’t know when they don’t understand what they are reading. Encourage your child to identify when they are having difficulty and go back and reread. You can also have them take notes and ask questions as they read. Sticky notes or a reader’s notebook are a great way to get kids excited about this task.

 

reading interventionWhile these are all great ways to help your child who struggles to read, the best and most important thing you can do as a parent is getting your child the reading intervention they need. For children with reading difficulties, our online reading tutoring provides a Structured Literacy approach that has been proven time and time again to be effective.

 

Our reading clinicians are skilled at identifying areas for growth, and our program is tailored to fit your child. Plus, since it is all online there are no commutes or time wasted sitting in a waiting room. We also provide you will tools and skills to help your child at home.

 

If you suspect your child has trouble with reading, don’t wait for them to get further behind. Contact us today to get them the help they need.

 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.
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Do Spelling Skills Matter? In A Word, YES

Do Spelling Skills Matter? In A Word, YES

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayWhen students struggle with reading and literacy, it is imperative that their reading intervention go hand in hand with writing and explicit spelling instruction. Often, in the classroom, it is the case that spelling instruction is an after-thought and is confined to spelling drills and memorization (Birsh, 2005). However, for students who struggle with dyslexia or other reading difficulties, memorization and drills are not enough and engaging in traditional spelling activities does them a disservice. Read on to learn how spelling and writing are integrated into a Structured Literacy program and how it can help students who struggle with reading.

I will admit it, when I was a first and second-year teacher, I struggled with integrating spelling into my instruction in a meaningful way. If I am being completely honest, it took me a few years to understand the relationship between reading and spelling.

learn-921255__340-cc0_pixabayI cringe thinking about some of my first parent/teacher conferences when I told parents “there is always spelling check.” I adopted the common classroom philosophy that if students were immersed in print, and taught to read, they would somehow magically learn to spell (Birsch, 2005).

After specialized training in how language is developed, I became a more proficient teacher and focused on direct literacy instruction. I found that spelling and writing are absolutely essential parts of the reading process. Students need explicit spelling and writing instruction in order to become proficient readers. In fact, research conducted by Brady and Moats in the mid to late 90’s indicated that learning to spell is a more complicated process than learning to read and requires explicit instruction (Birsch, 2005).

beach starfish printed over white caribbean sand such a summer vacation symbol

Without direct spelling instruction, many children will struggle to spell and ultimately to write even after their reading struggle has been remediated. Written expression is a necessary skill and needs to be explicitly taught in conjunction with reading skills. Students need to be taught about language and structure in order to learn to effectively spell and read words.

When engaging in spelling activities, the teacher or reading clinician must be an active participant and must be able to accurately impart knowledge about the rules of the English language. These include a deep knowledge of phonetics and phonics. Additionally, knowledge of orthography (conventional spelling rules and the representation of sounds as written symbols), morphology (prefixes, suffixes, and base word analysis), and vocabulary must be addressed during spelling instruction. These activities engage the student in a process that deciphers the reason for the spelling pattern rather than rote memory.

Many spelling difficulties arise when students are not able to accurately segment and blend the sounds in words. For example, if students do not understand that the word has three distinct sounds they cannot accurately spell it. An essential component of effective spelling instruction is the explicit teaching of phonemic awareness. When our reading clinicians at RW&C work with students, there is a phonemic awareness component to every single lesson whether students are working on letter sounds or advanced reading comprehension.

dyslexia

By ensuring that students can hear and manipulate sounds in syllables and words, our effective reading clinicians are making sure that students have and continue to develop the skills necessary to spell words correctly and express ideas in writing.

In addition, students need to understand the relationship between the sounds in words (phonemes) and the written symbols (graphemes). Our structured literacy lessons focus on this relationship with both reading and writing, helping students learn and internalize basic spelling patterns to complicated patterns.

Equally important, there should be a focus on morphology which is a critical component of any spelling program. Understanding root words and rules for prefixes and suffixes helps students understand spelling patterns. For example, looking at the word business, many people may wonder where the  comes from since it is silent. Understanding that the root word is and knowing that changes to a when adding a suffix (with the exception of a few orthographic rules) means that students will understand why the word is spelled the way it is and will help them internalize the spelling pattern.

By introducing, modeling, and practicing these skills explicitly, it helps students learn how to spell words correctly which improves and reinforces all literacy skills.

online tutoringOur reading clinicians also have extensive knowledge of child development and know when to correct spelling and when to allow children to rely on inventive spelling that is based on their own internalized understanding of phonemes and graphemes. This allows us to teach more than memorization because we teach the skills that students are developmentally ready for and not skills that are above their level. Just like in reading, in spelling it is “not the age, it’s the stage.” Students should not be pushed to memorize spelling patterns they are not ready for because it will ultimately do more harm than good.

Our online tutoring program integrates a multi-sensory approach to spelling according to the Structured Literacy framework. Students are engaged in looking, listening, repeating, segmenting, naming, and writing spelling patterns. Words are also integrated into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to promote and develop further understanding. Research has shown this to be the most effective way to teach spelling and to integrate it into reading and overall literacy development (Birsch, 2005).

Spelling and writing are integral parts of literacy instruction and must be included systematically and explicitly in all literacy programs, especially those designed for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. While one may think direct and explicit spelling instruction is a distraction from content writing, it actually enhances it by empowering students to use a wider and more sophisticated vocabulary to describe their story rather than choose words that are easier to spell.  If your child struggles with spelling, it is not a problem that will simply fix itself and will likely lead to other literacy difficulties down the road.

The important take away is that our English language spelling system is logical, makes sense, and is critical to reading and writing. Approximately 87% of English words are reliable to read and spell (Hanna et al., 1966) once the orthographic patterns have been mastered. However, for the novice or struggling speller, in order for the system to make sense it may take a Structured Literacy expert to help your child navigate the nuances of the English language.

Don’t wait for your child to struggle. Get them the help they need to be successful. Contact us today to discuss your child’s needs and find out if our online reading program is a good fit for you.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

 

Reading Comprehension: Putting It All Together

girl-277719__340, CC0_pixabayIn previous blogs, we’ve discussed the importance of phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary (morphology), and fluency. Today, we’re going to examine how these components work together to develop the most important reading skill of all, comprehension. The ability to read words and sentences is a critical step to comprehension. However, years of research have demonstrated that accurately reading words and sentences does not automatically transfer to understanding the material read.

Reading comprehension, simply put, is the ability to understand and gain information from what you read. It is an important step in the reading process as children move beyond learning to read and start the invaluable skill of reading to learn.

As children reach about the third grade, they should have a solid reading foundation. The focus of their instruction will no longer be on sounding out words but rather on gaining meaning from text. Putting the pieces together to develop a deeper understanding of literature and non-fiction text. Some key elements for strong reading comprehension involve vocabulary development, both oral and written, inference, and text structure. These higher order thinking skills along with decoding are imperative in order to gain meaning from reading the text.

favicon_starfishAs a side note, but a very important one, if your child is still struggling with phonological awareness, phonics, or fluency in the third grade, it is essential that you get them help from trained reading clinicians. Without these skills, it is unlikely that they will be successful and will fall further behind in school.

Although comprehension becomes the main focus of reading instruction in the third grade, it is an important component beginning in preschool. Comprehension difficulties usually fall in one of two categories. The first category of inaccurate word decoding skills will limit a student’s ability to understand the meaning of what was read. The second category for poor comprehension is demonstrated by weak language skills, understanding our spoken language and its subtleties. A student may encounter challenges with word reading, understanding the vocabulary and subtleties of our spoken language, or a combination of both.

Here are a few ways that you can help support and enhance your child’s reading comprehension skills.

  1. Always ask your child about what they are reading. Ask who the characters are, what the setting is, what problem the characters face, and what the solution is in fiction text. If your child is reading nonfiction, ask them what the topic of the text is, what the main idea is, and have them prove it to you by showing you examples in the text. These skills are perhaps the simplest and most foundational reading comprehension skills. If your child struggles with these even as young as kindergarten and first grade, it is not too early to get them online reading tutoring. Intervention from a trained reading clinician can help them stay on track and ensure they do not struggle later. If your child is older, say second grade or higher and cannot answer these types of questions, you should absolutely contact a reading clinician to have their comprehension assessed.
  1. Help your child create mental images, when appropriate. One of the most important comprehension skills is the ability to create pictures while you read. When you read with your child, ask them about what they are picturing in their mind as you read. Always ground their mental images in the text by asking why they picture what they do. Have them point out specific words or lines of text that informed their mental imaging.
  1. Encourage your child to ask questions. Before, during, and after reading you can encourage your child to ask questions about the text. For example, if they are reading a fiction text, you could ask what they think will happen, why a character is behaving the way they are, or what the characters could have done differently. In nonfiction text, you can ask them what they may know about the topic, what information is the author focusing on, or about any unanswered questions they have about the topic. This can be a great way to encourage further research on a topic that interests them.

bef6b-mosaic2bbooks2bto2bideasAs your child gets older and moves into upper elementary and middle school, you can encourage them to use post it notes as they read to ask questions, record unknown vocabulary words, and note any surprising information. This can be a great way for them to interact with the text and for you to monitor their understanding. Plus almost all kids love getting to use post it notes so it may even motivate them to read more.

These are a few ways that you can encourage your child to use comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading. They are essential for helping students understand what they read and gain information from text.

As students get older, this is the most important and most emphasized skill in school. Nearly all standardized text reading questions directly related to reading comprehension. It is also the most important skill that adults use regularly to function in society.

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayOur online tutoring program at RW&C incorporates reading comprehension as soon as our students are reading. Each and every lesson includes a time for reading a passage and applying a clinician selected and modeled reading strategy. Students who need comprehension instruction are given explicit instruction in that strategy, and their practice is monitored.

We also employ comprehension strategies at the sentence level if students are not developmentally ready to read an entire passage. When your child works with one of our reading clinicians, they will get the comprehension instruction that they need.

Unlike a box program or pre-recorded program, our clinicians respond to your child in real time, clearing up any misunderstandings and ensuring that your child understands their passage as they are reading it. We also work with you to practice these skills at home in a meaningful way.

If your child struggles with reading comprehension, get them the help they need today. Contact us for a screening to determine if your child needs intervention.

Becky Welsch

RW&C, LLC

www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy.
Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.