Friday, November 13, 2009

Recess: Give Them Your Word

I started my volunteer work at the school in a program called Wonder of Reading, a non-profit organization with a mandate to refurbish public school libraries and recruit reading mentors for children.

I had to take a three-hour training session where I learned to put aside old techniques many of us grew up with. For example, no more sounding out words. Studies show that simply telling the child the word has them learning it faster without the tension of a pop quiz.

I met my reading buddy, Charley, when he was in first grade, and we read together until he left the school after fifth grade. We worked our way through Curious George and the Berenstain Bears and all the way up to Captain Underpants without a single sounding-out.

If he had trouble with a word, he asked and I told him. The next time that word showed up, usually on the next page, he knew it.

I found this same system worked when Luis needed spelling help with his journal writing. He asked, I spelled the word and, when encouraged to use it again, he remembered.

I wish someone had taught me math that way and eliminated the painful humiliation of, "What do you think the answer is, Mel?" in that cloying, know-it-all voice.

I think the answer is, "GRRRRR!" And I would have been correct.

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