Wednesday, June 1, 2005

June 2005: Frances Hardy, Tackling Big, Unfamiliar Words


 America Learns Strategy of the Month    

June's strategy was submitted by Frances Hardy, a member of the NC LiteracyCorps, an AmeriCorps program managed by the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

University of North Carolina
Frances had to help her second grade student learn to pronounce "big unfamiliar words" the student came across while reading.  We hope the strategy becomes useful to the children you serve.

The Strategy

(Tackling Tricky Words)

Created by: Frances Hardy, NC LiteracyCorps
(America Learns Network member since 2004)
Topic: Decoding & Sounding Out Words
Grade Levels: First & Second
Arrangements: One-on-One
Materials: - Slips of paper 
- Pen/pencil

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Situation: One of my second grade students has trouble pronouncing big words. These words often have smaller words or chunks in them that may help her understand and pronounce the word. However, big unfamiliar words intimidate her and instead of trying to understand the word, she often gives up.

Following are a few strategies I use to help my student out in this area.

Step 1: In order to help my student understand that words can be broken apart, I often write tricky words on little slips of paper and then cut the word into two separate parts (these parts are often words themselves, like rain and bow for rainbow). I then ask my student to read the word on each slip of paper. Once she does that (proving to herself that she can read both parts of a word), I put the slips of paper next to each other and ask my student to read the entire word.
Step 2: Sometimes, I will say the word out loud and then ask her to tell me the two parts that form the word.

(Note for America Learns Network members: If the word cannot be easily broken into two distinct words, look for common word endings. Here's how to introduce this: "ack!" (Learning Common Word Endings).

Step 3: Other times, when she comes across a challenging word while reading, she must identify and combine the chunks of words all by herself without me telling her what she is looking for.
Step 4: To apply this to her reading, I always keep a piece of paper on hand that can be used to split apart a tricky word into smaller parts. After viewing the word as two or three manageable parts, she has more confidence to solve unknown words.
Additional Resource for America Learns Network Members: Here are two additional strategies that may help your student tackle new words:

Find a plethora of other strategies here.

How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Frances below.

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