The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 16


Resourceful Research


Moreover, reading aloud to teenagers can stimulate their imagination and emotions, enrich their vocabulary and understanding of sophisticated language patterns, make difficult text understandable, and encourage a lifelong enjoyment of reading (Anderson, 2007)


write for. They do enjoy sharing the books they create with the younger readers. It is a real win/win kind of activity.

Try Alternatives When Students Do Not Make Adequate Gains Using a Synthetic Phonics Approach

We have indicated that a systematic phonics curriculum should include direct systematic instruction in the major letter-sound correspondences, including short and long vowels and digraphs. However, not every student can learn phonics in that way. Practices rooted in analytic phonics can provide an excellent alternative for such students. Here are some things to try:

● Prompting near point of error while scaffolding the student’s letter knowledge using an alphabet chart with pictures. When a student is unsure of a sound (e.g., the sound of s), then ask the student to look at the picture for the s (sun) and say the name of the picture. Ask them to say it again. Then ask them to start to say it. In this manner they are learning the sound for the letter s using a form of analytic phonics. Such prompting can be employed using the “staggered start” methodology described earlier.

● Prompting near point of error in a manner that encourages cross-checking, e.g. what word would start with that sound and make sense in the story. If the meaning clue is that it is in the sky and the starting sound is the st digraph, the word is likely to be star. By contrast if meaning clue was that it is in the sky, but the starting sound is s then the word is likely to be sun. Such prompting can be employed using the “staggered start” methodology described earlier.

● Developing a personal “sound dictionary”, where students add words to the dictionary using known letters. Often times the first letters included in this dictionary include the letters in their name.

● Writing stories using words limited to letters the student already know and can use. Have the student read those stories.

We envision that instructional choices would be made based on current research and knowledge of student needs. Programs could focus on synthetic phonics, with support by analytic phonics as needed by individual students. Alternately, programs could focus on analytic with synthetic when needed by individual students. Student-generated stories, onset and rime games, word sorts, word walls all can help students develop skills in this area. Teachers should be trained in both synthetic and analytic approaches to phonics instruction and allowed to use them within district curricula. Optimally, a workshop approach allows teachers to differentiate for students. Neither approach is shown to have a clear-cut advantage in helping young children make meaning of texts (Ehri, 2001).

Help Students Become Independent Learners

Over the years, one of our biggest takeaways about workshop teaching is that when preparing lessons and strategies for carrying out instruction teachers should ask themselves, “What work am I leaving for the student and why?” In our opinion, teachers who can answer that question about their plan tend to have a much better plan

In their book, Who’s Doing the Work?, Burkins and Yarkis(2016) explored how teachers can talk less in order to teach more. A word of caution. After reading comments made by teachers on the Reading Recovery Facebook site about Burkins and Yarkis' suggestions, we realized there are times and situations where applying methods suggested in their book could be inappropriate. For instance, the “and why” part of our question about what work teachers are leaving for the students could lead selected teachers to conclude that at their present stage of development in reading skills their particular group of young students might need a greater than normal amount of scaffolding.

However, scaffolding implies that the help given will be gradually removed. The final goal is for students to be able to use the various strategies independently. Overall Burkins and Yarkis' vision of leaving more work for the students is essential in the process of creating lifelong readers.