Bruce Murray, College of Education The Reading Genie



Phoneme Awareness

Tammy Feely: One thing that worked well was today, my student and I were working on the short a sound, a = /a/, and we were using the crying baby motion every time we heard the word.  I decided to expand that notion and for the sentences, I said, “The crying baby needs a nap.  Can you make it stop crying and spell nap so that it can go to sleep?”  She would spell the word, slowly pronounce it, and then say, “Yep, I think I got it!”

Tammy Feely: Another great thing that worked well this week was when I gave my student a comparable list of words, she would have to repeat back the two words that I said, and create our motion in the one she heard.  That way, I am making sure that she knows what two words I am saying, and I can see that she understands/hears the correct phoneme.  For example, o = /o/ :  Pan or Pot.  She would repeat both words, and make the gesture on pot.

The Letterbox Lesson

Jenn Miranda:  I used something that I learned from Beck’s Making Sense of Phonics.  S— was having trouble distinguishing between men and man as well as wage and wag.  I spelled out both words and stacked them on top of one another.  I asked S— which word said man.  She pointed to the correct word.  I asked her why that said man.  She replied that the one she pointed to said man because a = /a/.

Jenny Duvall: “I was very excited during one part of our LBL.  R— had struggled with the word brain while I was spelling the words for him to read.  I removed the ai from the word, and he instantly pronounced it correctly. Next, I added the br and he put the entire word together to say brain.  I was so amazed at how well that strategy worked—like magic!  Also, I found that pronouncing what he spelled in the box (when it is incorrect) really helps him to see where or what he missed.  As soon as I would say what he spelled, he knew what to change (vowel first body-coda blending!).

Jenny Duvall: One of the most helpful strategies that I have showed R— has been to isolate the correspondence and then “build” the word.  The strategy really forces him to concentrate on what is making up the word and he has excelled in doing this.  Also, R— has been a big fan of the gestures we used to introduce the new correspondences.  Although he was shy about doing them at first, he loves to show out now!  Today was perhaps the best strategy of all—a harder and more interesting book.  R— pointed out that The Hungry Toad was his favorite book so far and certainly funnier.  While reading, he even made up voiced for the different characters.

Lizzie Fain: One of the things that seemed to work well this semester with Mackenzie was vowel first, body, coda blending.  She struggled with blending her words.  I would help her by letting her make the sound of just the vowel first.  Then I would add the body(first part of word before the vowel) and get her to sound out that much.  Then I would add the coda(letters after the vowel).  This seemed to help her when sounding out the words. If she misspelled a word, I would not immediately correct her but read aloud the word she had spelled and then tell her the word I wanted her to spell. She almost always was able to correctly spell the word after this.

Amy Whitcomb: K— really liked the sound and motion for the i_e = /I/ correspondence. I had a hard time getting him to stop making the sailor sound “Aye, Aye”. I have been amazed at how well he remembers all of the cues for the phonemes. When we review, he always knows the motion and sound and loves to do it! It is a fun way to review! It also helped to cover up the pictures until K— was done reading that page. We also did a picture walk before he read it, he really enjoyed that, and it made him more excited to read the story.

Heather Lewis: Typically, when T__ misses a word, she loses focus and motivation, making the rest of the lesson less beneficial. By giving her simpler words that still helped her practice the new correspondence, the lesson went more smoothly, and I genuinely feel she took more away from the lesson. Over the course of the semester, I can definitely tell that T__ has improved. Her errors in the books we read have decreased because she has realized how to use the strategies I have shown her: decoding, cover-ups, and crosschecking. Any time she comes to a word she is unfamiliar with, she can, and does, utilize each of these strategies to help her.

Jessie Wiggins: Having M__ read a word list was much more efficient today then spelling each word for him to read.  It took up about a minute compared to the 4-5 minutes it normally takes.  Throughout the semester, M__ had greatly improved his reading.  With the help of his teacher working with him, and my tutoring, M__ is slowly but surely creeping up towards fluency.  One strategy that M__ gained from my lessons that has helped him was the cover-ups.  Anytime he struggled, we referred to cover-ups, which always helped so much!  I also always referred to the gesture, which he could always remember.  These two strategies were implemented throughout the semester and seemed to have worked the best.

Scaffolding Oral Reading

Lauren Rockwell: At first my student was very insecure about her reading skills.  Now we have begun to cover up the pictures on the page while she reads, which greatly improves her reading.  After she reads the page, she gets to look at the picture.  She has really expressed a joy for reading.  I was so excited to see this transformation from insecurity to confidence in reading.

Allison Nall: We practiced the “talk before you turn” rule. I think this definitely slowed him down and he began to think more about what was going on in the story.

Amy Berger: One thing that I did that worked really well was repeated reading.  The first time she read, it was very choppy and she really couldn’t get the full meaning of the text.  T— read it again, this time with more expression.  Then she read it for a third time and it was full of expression and she improved by leaps and bounds on her fluency. One of the most helpful strategies that I taught her was cross checking and rereading.  At the beginning of tutoring, T— would miss a word or not be able to pronounce it and just move on without thinking anything of it.  She was not able to gain any meaning from the text.  Over the course of the semester, she quickly caught on to the concept of cross checking and rereading; she is not able to understand and better comprehend what she has read.

Trinity Dyess: When looking back over the semester K– seemed to learn a lot from the different tongue twisters and hand gestures.  The best strategy that I taught K– this semester was cross checking.  I taught him how to finish the sentence when he came to an unfamiliar word and see if what he read made since.

Barret Freeman: J— really liked the cover-up method.  She thought it was fun and loved to use it to help her decode her words. She loved moving the basketball on her board.  She also loved adding the books that she read to our “books I have read” section of the board.  The hand gestures and funny vocals really helped her to remember her new correspondences (she really like chuga, chuga, chuga, chuga, choo choo..for ch = /ch/).  J— finally learned to use crosschecking on her own (with no reminders!).

Liz Hooper
:  Over this semester, B__ has really made progress. I have seen him really begin to develop into a more fluent reader. One of the strategies B__ still uses is the cover-ups method. In the beginning B__ was using the cover-up method for almost every word and I have only seen him use it a few times with unfamiliar words recently. Another thing we used throughout the semester was the vowel first blending. A few times B__ had trouble reading words, so we would work on sounding out the vowel first. I witnessed him actually do that a few times himself when trying to read the challenger words in the LBL.

Message Writing

Elizabeth Bush: I think that if I were meeting with him again, I would have a couple of different message topics and my student would get to draw one out of a bag. This way it would make it a little more fun, more like a game.

Elizabeth Zorn: My message topic this week was “What did you do for the fourth of July?” I talked with my student about his weekend and what he did before I let him read his message. This worked really well because it gave him a lot of ideas about what to write.

Meredith Willis: J— has always enjoyed completing the message writing portion of our lesson.  I have tried to come up with topics that pertain to the book or events happening in her life.  I would often ask her to put herself into the position of a character in our books.  She would have to tell me how she would handle situations the character faced in the story.  I also asked her about her birthday plans for one of the lessons.  I thought the book talks went well also.  I felt like I really got her excited about reading a new book.  By giving her clues and asking her to make predictions about the book helped to keep her engaged with the story.

Vocabulary Instruction

Leslie Downer: I am incorporating new vocabulary words such as dine, mane, and roam into our walks out to the car.  I use it in a sentence, then he does. This really helps him remember what they mean and he likes to tell his mom and brother.

Behavior  Management

Abby Smith: One thing that worked well today was that last week I was strict about not letting my student move his football when he was not cooperating, and this week I had no problems getting him to cooperate and pay attention throughout the lesson.  (Note: Enforcing a mild consequence encourages long term cooperation.)

Maggie Saye: “One thing that worked well this week was emphasizing her token system. She was much more enthusiastic about completing each task when I began the task by explaining that at the completion of it she could add to her flower. For example, before reading the familiar book, I said, “Now we are going to reread the book we read last week. When we finish, you will be able to put up the first petal of your flower!” and so on for each step. This seemed to really motivate her. We also had enough time to play memory for review and she loved it. She didn’t realize she was reviewing and just thought of it as a fun reward.”

Allison Nall
: Today B— was tired and he was being lazy. He was all slouched over, holding his book far away from him, and his reading definitely showed his lack of attention. I made him stop reading, sit up straight, and hold his book properly. It was amazing at how his reading improved just by having him sit like a reader should. I told him he was doing such a good job after he corrected the way he was sitting. His behavior is very good. He didn’t whine or complain when I got him to sit up straight.

Cassie Simpson: One thing that I think has gone really well this semester with Q— is really encouraging her each step of the way.  She is very shy and the first couple of weeks, she seemed very uninterested and got discouraged easily.  I’ve found that if I praise her when she does something right or even try to find something positive in a mistake that she has made, she is more excited and enthusiastic about learning.  Another strategy that has worked well has been the vowel first, body, coda blending.  I still usually have to scaffold that technique but when Q— uses it, she is able to figure out the word without me telling her most of the time.  That gives her a sense of accomplishment that she needs, too.

Maggie Saye: Over the course of the semester, K__ responded very well to our token system. I feel that this was a great motivator in the beginning and continued to be. She constantly got excited about being able to add petals to complete her flower by the end. When K__ had trouble, cover-ups and crosschecking worked the best. We had a bookmark that she used for cover-ups and it worked wonders in helping her decode words. I also feel that the pictures and motions I made for the correspondences that we worked with were very helpful to her. She often would review the motions she had learned for previous correspondences when we learned new ones (without being asked to do so). When we read books, discussing the story before turning the page was very effective for her. This strategy kept K__ involved in the story and she often didn’t even realize she was reading words with a new correspondence, but that she was finding out what was happening with our characters. She has shown so much progress over the semester and I am very pleased.

Review Games

Heather Lewis: For a review game for my ea = /E/ lesson I would like to play a version of “Go Fish,” using fish shaped cards with words matching the correspondence for the lesson. For example, T— might ask, “Do you have any “clean’s?”

Chelsi Simmons: One thing that has worked really well is telling L— that if he works hard and finished the lesson, then we could play a game or read a book of his choice.  L— really likes playing concentration and reading baseball books, so he tries really hard during the lessons so that he can do something fun in the end.  I have even adapted concentration to work on L—’s confusion of the letters b and d.  This has really helped him to stop mixing up the two letters.

Audrey Stockdale: One way that I really kept S– motivated to try his hardest during our lesson was our review game. S– really enjoyed the Go Fish for Words review game. He was reviewing correspondences while having fun and playing a game. This helped keep S– motivated to spell all of his words and read his book each week. He knew the only way to play the review game was to behave well and finish our lesson. He continued to succeed every week, and almost each week we made it to the fish game. Another thing that worked really for S– was having a tongue twister, a mouth movement, and a hand gesture to illustrate the correspondences each week. When I modeled how to use our mouth moves and hand gestures to really stretch out the correspondence sounds in the words each week. If the correspondence was a_e=/A/, our tongue twister might be Amy’s ape ate the acorns. I would sound out the ape like this AAAAAA-pppppppppppp so S– would know exactly how to sound out the long A sound. Then, I would give S– a hand gesture, such as Fonzie’s thumb up A to give him a fun way to remember this strategy. This helped when it was time for the letterbox lesson. S– used the mouth moves and hand gestures to really help him spell and sound out his words. S– became really successful with the letterbox lesson by using these techniques.

Emily Young: Over the course of the semester, B__ has made progress during our tutoring sessions. One thing that worked very well, was the implementation of the review activity as a reward for working hard during our lesson. This helped B__ to focus on the lesson, put effort into the activities and to move at a faster pace. The vowel body coda blending strategy was also a great success with B__. After observing me read a word during the letterbox lesson, B__ caught onto the strategy and started to use it himself. When I noticed this, I took the time at the beginning of a lesson to explain how exactly it was done.

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Last modified: January 8, 2018