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Stopping a new reader from guessing words?


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Ds (almost 6yo) has been slowly working through OPG for nearly a year now, along with ETC. I don't think he was quite ready to read when we started K last year, so we went really slow the first half of the year until things seemed to start "clicking" for him. (Long story, but we needed to put him in K last year instead of red-shirting, and he was ready for K in every other way, he even excels in math.)

 

We've continued to work on reading a couple days a week this summer and are about half way through OPG (our summer break is May and June). He has improved a lot, but he is often guessing at words. Usually he guesses based on the first letter, but sometimes what he says is just random. I printed off this phonics game to start using, but I doubt that it alone will solve the problem.

 

Any ideas or suggestions?

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What hubby did for our younger who loves to guess is to cover the pictures and practice reading with books that has a few lines per page. Both my boys do not like phonic readers so we use some of the Step Into Reading Level 2 books for them.

e.g

http://www.amazon.com/Platypus-Step-Reading-Ginjer-Clarke/dp/0375924175

you can see from the look inside what I meant by a few short sentences per page.

http://www.amazon.com/Statue-Liberty-Step-Into-Reading/dp/0679969284/

this one has more sentences per page but is a nice semi-non-fiction practice.we used.

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When they guessed, I just made them start over and sound it out anyway. After enough times being made to go back, they learned that the guessing was pointless. Just say, "Be sure to sound it out." Then direct your finger to the beginning of the word. For words with more than one syllable, I would sometimes cover up the later syllables to keep them from looking at the whole thing. Only had to do that a while though.

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This is actually a really good example of why it's important to teach sight words (or look-say) simultaneously with phonics. Comprehension comes from the free flow of quicker reading and a child will instinctively try to read as quickly as possible.

OTOH, if they have to slow down to sound out every word in a sentence, by the time they've hit the end, they've forgotten the beginning! And comprehension has gone out the window...

 

I would suggest getting some flash cards of the 100 most common sight words (or print some up yourself. That's what I did). I would bet that if he gets to the point that the high frequency words come immediately, he won't be as opposed to slowing down to sound out the difficult words.

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I happened to glance through today's email from Homeschool Giveaways today, and they have a free download from All About Learning Press entitled

"Break the 'Word Guessing' Habit...

It seems fairly extensive, and explains four different types of 'word guessers.'

 

I just thought of this post and thought you might find it useful...

http://homeschoolgiveaways.com/2013/05/break-the-word-guessing-habit-free-download/

 

 

 

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This is actually a really good example of why it's important to teach sight words (or look-say) simultaneously with phonics. Comprehension comes from the free flow of quicker reading and a child will instinctively try to read as quickly as possible.

OTOH, if they have to slow down to sound out every word in a sentence, by the time they've hit the end, they've forgotten the beginning! And comprehension has gone out the window...

 

I would suggest getting some flash cards of the 100 most common sight words (or print some up yourself. That's what I did). I would bet that if he gets to the point that the high frequency words come immediately, he won't be as opposed to slowing down to sound out the difficult words.

 

 

See, now, I think that chart is a really good example of why children shouldn't bother with most "sight words." :tongue_smilie: When my kids got to a true sight word, I just told them, "That word doesn't follow the rules, and it says ____." Then we just moved on. Honestly, comprehension has been a non-issue with my brand new readers in the sounding out stage because most sentences in early readers are sufficiently short to allow for comprehension even when sounding out the majority of words. As skill increases, so does sentence length, then paragraph length, etc.

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This is actually a really good example of why it's important to teach sight words (or look-say) simultaneously with phonics. Comprehension comes from the free flow of quicker reading and a child will instinctively try to read as quickly as possible.

OTOH, if they have to slow down to sound out every word in a sentence, by the time they've hit the end, they've forgotten the beginning! And comprehension has gone out the window...

 

I would suggest getting some flash cards of the 100 most common sight words (or print some up yourself. That's what I did). I would bet that if he gets to the point that the high frequency words come immediately, he won't be as opposed to slowing down to sound out the difficult words.

 

Those words aren't the problem. He guesses on other types of words, especially if it has blends or more than 1 vowel. For instance, if the word is "trace", he might say "track." Sometimes he will add a letter to make a blend when there is not one.

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Honestly, I think that's normal at that stage. Both of my kids did that. I would just repeat what they said and then say, "what? that doesn't make sense, read it again. " That only works if the substituted word really doesn't make sense in context. Either way, I have them go back over the word sound by sound and then blend. BTW, if they are reading text with more than one line make sure you use an index card to block off the the lines below so that they aren't distracting.

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I agree, and the only word I can think of is "one".

 

On ElizabethB's page, she says one and once. I think that's her classifying the high frequency "sight words" that are found on lists and taught as such. I am thinking I've said that about other words like choir and other stuff (that I can't remember now) and I may not even be right sometimes... I know even now I will say oh, that word is French (or whatever) and it says ____. Can't think of an example now, of course, but that kind of tells you how infrequent truly non phonetic words are, I guess. The important thing for me is that most word can be sounded out and the more practice a child gets at it, the easier it is.

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Honestly, I think that's normal at that stage. Both of my kids did that. I would just repeat what they said and then say, "what? that doesn't make sense, read it again. " That only works if the substituted word really doesn't make sense in context. Either way, I have them go back over the word sound by sound and then blend. BTW, if they are reading text with more than one line make sure you use an index card to block off the the lines below so that they aren't distracting.

 

I agree with this. If I'm being honest, I would sometimes even make them go back and sound it out if I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were guessing and they lucked into guessing right. That helps stop the habit too, because they really knew not to bother guessing. :lol:

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When my kids got to a true sight word, I just told them, "That word doesn't follow the rules, and it says ____."

I think you misunderstand the term.

 

A sight-word is nothing more than a word recognized on sight.

As experienced readers, our sight-word vocabulary is enormous. We sound almost nothing out as we read. Consequently, reading is comfortable and smooth.

Young readers need to develop that sight-word vocabulary as well, and flash cards are often an easier way to do this than reading (which slows them down).

 

Those words aren't the problem. He guesses on other types of words, especially if it has blends or more than 1 vowel. For instance, if the word is "trace", he might say "track." Sometimes he will add a letter to make a blend when there is not one.

Did you read the link? There are about 400 words listed there...

This is normal development, that of adding, subtracting or substituting letters, but it's been my observation over the years that the larger a child's sight-word vocabulary, the less likely they are to do this.

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I think you misunderstand the term.

 

A sight-word is nothing more than a word recognized on sight. As experienced readers, our sight-word vocabulary is enormous. We sound almost nothing out as we read. Consequently, reading is comfortable and smooth.

Young readers need to develop that sight-word vocabulary as well, and flash cards are often an easier way to do this than reading (which slows them down).

 

No, I do not misunderstand the term. I just think time spent memorizing a list of words which can easily be sounded out is an excruciatingly boring waste of time. These words are so frequent that, for my three kids anyway, the time spent purposefully memorizing them with no context would have been longer than doing so through actual interesting, contextual reading. My kids developed a large "sight word" vocabulary, but through reading, not memorizing. To be fair, I taught my kids to read with "real" books of particular interest to them, using no programs and very few readers, so focusing on the inherent reward of reading is how I naturally lean anyway.

 

We simply disagree. No biggie.

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I think guessing is a normal phase for many young readers.

 

Bearing in mind that this is probably just a normal phase, I suggest patient corrections and reminders not to guess haphazardly.

 

I believe, however, that part of good reading comprehension involves predicting -- which is sort of a cousin of guessing. It's easier to read the words on the page when one has an idea of what it's likely to say.

 

I used to teach primary grades and find that guessing is a bit of a personality thing. Certain kids wouldn't guess if you paid them! They are completely wedded to Sounding-It-Out. Other kids are devoted guessers who cheerfully make random, wacky guesses and giggle at the results. Thankfully, few of them are still stuck in either style by the end of 2nd grade.

 

It's a big task, learning to read!

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No, I do not misunderstand the term. I just think time spent memorizing a list of words which can easily be sounded out is an excruciatingly boring waste of time. These words are so frequent that, for my three kids anyway, the time spent purposefully memorizing them with no context would have been longer than doing so through actual interesting, contextual reading.

 

We simply disagree. No biggie.

 

 

Again, I think you're misunderstanding.

It should be a five minute exercise, tops, before the start of the day's reading.

 

I just think time spent memorizing a list of words which can easily be sounded out

This child isn't doing that, however.

More importantly, once most people become "readers" they sound out almost nothing of what they read. They are almost ALL sight-words.

Reading frustration eases as a child builds their sight-word vocabulary, no matter the process by which they get there.

 

 

It has nothing to do with agreeing with me.

This is the basic process of reading.

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Again, I think you're misunderstanding.

It should be a five minute exercise, tops, before the start of the day's reading.

 

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This child isn't doing that, however.

More importantly, once most people become "readers" they sound out almost nothing of what they read. They are almost ALL sight-words.

Reading frustration eases as a child builds their sight-word vocabulary, no matter the process by which they get there.

 

 

It has nothing to do with agreeing with me.

This is the basic process of reading.

 

 

Yeah, I understand all that. I actually went back and edited my post to add the part about my kids developing a sight word vocabulary from reading. Again, no I am not misunderstanding. At this point, I think you are misunderstanding (or simply incredulous, maybe?) that my position does not stem from ignorance but from disagreement. I do not see drilling and memorizing sight words as time well spent, even at five minutes a day. Many times, five minutes per day is the entire measure of a beginning reader's stamina, so I really super-duper, completely and wholeheartedly believe it is time better spent on phonics.

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Those words aren't the problem. He guesses on other types of words, especially if it has blends or more than 1 vowel. For instance, if the word is "trace", he might say "track." Sometimes he will add a letter to make a blend when there is not one.

And yet phonics alone don't seem to be working in this student's case...

(As is often true with new readers)

 

The OP says the words you linked weren't the problem.

 

I can believe that phonics alone does not always work for everyone. Nothing works for everyone. But guessing is common almost to the point of being expected and is not necessarily related to having explicitly covered sight word lists or not. If strict phonics instruction hadn't worked with one of my kids, obviously I would have taken a new approach. But guessing isn't a problem with phonics.

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Some kids guess more than others, and it doesn't mean a new teaching technique is needed; it may very well just mean the teacher needs to keep up with the practice and gentle reminders not to guess haphazardly.

 

If the teacher is teaching other ways to approach (attack/sound out/ decode/insert your preferred term) unknown words, I think she's probably doing fine.

 

It takes many kids a long time to become fluent readers.

 

If a child is guessing, or freezing up, or slooooow, or not stopping at ending punctuation, or not comprehending well, or reading with a robot voice, or making the same mistakes over and over and over it doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem. It can be a long process. Different kids stumble over different aspects of reading.

 

I think that most of the time the parent/teacher will do best to just patiently, calmly, gently carry on with the reminders, knowing that some day it will no longer be necessary.

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OP, not sure if this will be helpful to you, but fwiw, my DD6 is also doing OPG (we're on lesson 175), and we went through a period in which she did a lot of guessing of words that she could have easily sounded out if she tried, mainly based on the first letter. I could tell that she just didn't want to make the effort, or was trying to go too fast, etc. So, I simply said: "Don't guess - take your time and sound it out." And she did. I kept reinforcing that, and she almost never guesses now.

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I used to play a game occasionally with my boys when I’d see them doing a lot of guessing. It doesn’t work to do it every day but it always helped when they had been making a habit of guessing words instead of doing the work of sounding them out.

 

I would lay out 10 M&Ms (or jellybeans or something similar) on the table at the beginning of the reading lesson. For every word they guessed at, I ate a piece of candy. If they asked for help or sounded it out slowly or just said “I don’t know†I didn’t take a piece. I was trying to teach them that the purpose at that point wasn’t perfect fluid reading but being wiling to sound out or ask for help on the words they didn’t know. Whatever was left at the end of the lesson they got to eat.

 

Usually I only ate one or maybe two pieces before they stopped the guessing. :)

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Oh, I don't know if this applies at all, but I also wanted to add that when they are obviously tired of reading, it is OK to stop. Not just for the day either. For a week, a month...even until they express interest again. I could always tell when my kids started to check out of a lesson. Learning to read is hard work. Exhausting, really. When my kids started guessing too often or getting silly, I would just cheerfully say enough for that day. No problem, no stress. In the absence of particular challenges, there is no reason why it can't be fun. We didn't always have daily lessons either. At 5, you have plenty of time to roll with the natural ebb and flow of your child's interest.

 

Anyway, disregard if it doesn't apply. It was a really relaxing path for us here though, so I wanted to share in case it helped.

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I think it's normal for that age/stage. However, to help, I found using a notched card (index card with a corner rectangle cut from it) really helped. Now that he reads without the card, if he guesses I just have him try again. If it's truly a word he can't get i tell him and we move on. His comprehension is excellent, so sounding out isn't a problem for him.

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If my DD guesses I check quickly what part of the word she is guessing - very often the first syllable will be right and only much later letters or syllables will be incorrect. If she is getting the middle of the word right and guessing a prefix or suffix then I praise what she has got right and then say lets cover up the word and uncover it slowly. For a word like c-a-t I would uncover c and she'd say " c" then a - she'd say "a" and then immediately blend them ("ca") and then t - say "t" and then "cat". This way it prevented having to remember many letters before blending.

 

You cannot stop all guessing - children will guess because that is what is easier to do especially if you say the correct word after they have guessed - why should they bother then. You have to make it more of an effort for them to guess than to just do it correctly which means every single mistake has to be fixed slowly with sounding out. I do agree however that then your child should know some sight words. If comprehension is lost then do the sentence as mentioned above slowly then get the child to read the sentence again faster and if necessary another time til almost fluent or if it is a very difficult sentence you just read it back for comprehension and work on fluency and comprehension with easier readers.

 

If you want to prevent guessing right from the start in a list of words then you must cover up all the words and uncover each one slowly but I do not think this is the best way to handle things as then he will never have to try for himself when seeing a whole word. You need to let him guess first and then show him how to do it right.

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Those words aren't the problem. He guesses on other types of words, especially if it has blends or more than 1 vowel. For instance, if the word is "trace", he might say "track." Sometimes he will add a letter to make a blend when there is not one.

 

We've had guessing problems with one of our readers too - it has been YEARS of gentle reminders and just when I was giving up hope it seems to be getting better.

 

FWIW, trace to track could be a phonics mistake (missing the silent e). But I'm sure that is just one example you were pulling out.

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I make guessing harder than sounding out the word. So, you guess on a short vowel word, you get to do all the short vowel sounds and then the word again, or all the syllables with that sound and then the sound again. Or, you guess, you sound out every single sound in every single word for that word and the next few words. Or, you spell it and then say each sound and then get to say the full word.

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I think you misunderstand the term.

 

A sight-word is nothing more than a word recognized on sight.

As experienced readers, our sight-word vocabulary is enormous. We sound almost nothing out as we read. Consequently, reading is comfortable and smooth.

Young readers need to develop that sight-word vocabulary as well, and flash cards are often an easier way to do this than reading (which slows them down).

 

 

Did you read the link? There are about 400 words listed there...

This is normal development, that of adding, subtracting or substituting letters, but it's been my observation over the years that the larger a child's sight-word vocabulary, the less likely they are to do this.

 

Actually, if you look at the brain research, while no one is 100% sure exactly what is going on in the brain while reading, the indicators from fMRI studies and other research points to the fact that good readers are actually sounding out every single word sound by sound, just super fast, so fast that they think they are reading it as a whole. Remediation for problem readers shows a shift from the side of the brain that processes wholes and pictures to the side of the brain that processes sounds and things in a linear manner. I have a 10 minute YouTube video that explains this:

 

 

I also have a movie that I just completed that looks at the Dolch words (220 high frequency words similar to the list you link) and explain the positives behind teaching them phonetically based on a study of the most common 17,000 words in English.

 

 

With my remedial students, I have timed them with a group of words for sounds they are learning, then a group that was and was not included in that group. For example, I will teach "mat cat rat man tan pat cam bam sad" (and 20 other words with this pattern) and then test a list that includes all the words taught and then a list that includes similar words not taught like fat. I expected the speed of words taught to be faster than words not taught, but the speeds were identical. I varied the placement of the words (either immediately after the teaching or the 2nd list) and made sure both lists were of equal difficulty, for example one list would have bend and mat, the other would have mend and bat.

 

Reading speed went up after teaching, but an equal amount for words that were taught and not taught, just teaching the phonics pattern was sufficient. This was true of both my remedial students who were just suffering from problems with guessing and incomplete phonics teaching and those I suspected of having dyslexia.

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I just compared the lists...85% of the words on the 100 High Frequency word list are on the Dolch word list.

 

These are the words on the 100 list but not on the Dolch list:

 

mum, dad, it's, looked (but look was on the Dolch list) back, children, Mr, oh, people, house, day (but today is on the Dolch list), I'm, Mrs, called, asked

 

Of these 15, children, dad, house, and day are on the Dolch noun list, a list of 95 nouns commonly taught by sight in schools in the United States. (They teach mother instead of mum, BTW.)

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Actually, if you look at the brain research, while no one is 100% sure exactly what is going on in the brain while reading, the indicators from fMRI studies and other research points to the fact that good readers are actually sounding out every single word sound by sound, just super fast, so fast that they think they are reading it as a whole.

I don't buy it. Otherwise, those puzzles where they show a word, mixed up but starting and ending the same with the same number of letters, wouldn't work.

 

And using flash cards for a few minutes, to speed up high frequency words for early readers, has nothing to do with the use or absence of phonics.

This is not an either/or issue.

 

Much like teaching a child multiplication. You teach them the process of why it works first. You might even encourage them to do repeated addition when they're working problems. But a few minutes each day with flashcards can be another perfectly good way of increasing fluency.

 

Grammar-aged students like/need to memorize, afterall...

 

Maybe it's just too many years in a classroom, but I just can't imagine leaving a tool in the box if I thought it might be something that clicks with a student that's struggling.

Though I see it now. There's an apparent backlash here that people seem incapable of getting past. "Sight-word" is a BAD word...

 

Not a problem. Carry on. :)

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Those words aren't the problem. He guesses on other types of words, especially if it has blends or more than 1 vowel. For instance, if the word is "trace", he might say "track." Sometimes he will add a letter to make a blend when there is not one.

 

c does make "k" sound so he is not entirely guess. You sure he is not just confused about some rules?? there are whole lot rules....

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Though I see it now. There's an apparent backlash here that people seem incapable of getting past. "Sight-word" is a BAD word...

 

Not a problem. Carry on. :)

 

Well, I'll explain why I think sight words is a BAD word. (And I have an explanation about the mixed up word puzzles, but it is long and I will explain that later.)

 

(The explanation about why I think sight words are bad is also long, but I can cut and paste from a variety of old posts.)

 

We move often, and I give out reading grade level tests to practically every parent I meet, and give the test myself if they do not wish to give it themselves but want to see what grade level their children are reading at. I have seen the results of hundreds of grade level tests over the years and have tutored scores of children. When I first started tutoring, many schools used 100% whole language methods, and the failure rates were 60 to 70%. Most schools now use some degree of balanced literacy, their failure rates range between 30 to 40%. We have lived near a few schools in a few different states that taught with a good phonics program with few sight words, and I have not yet found a failure from any of these schools (I still run into people from these schools, even though I no longer live near them, my friends move often, too!) Once, I thought I found a failure from these schools, but I later found out when I started tutoring the child that they had moved later than I thought and the child had learned with sight words and had just transferred into this school.

 

While the people I meet and their children are not a random sample, statistics from hundreds of studies bear out these percentages.

 

For example, here is a quote from Sally Shaywitz's "Overcoming Dyslexia, A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level" p. 261:

 

"In one Tallahassee, Florida, elementary school where such a program [explicit phonics] was implemented, the percentage of struggling readers dropped eightfold--from 31.8 percent to 3.7 percent."

 

I've seen hundreds of older children and adults harmed so much by whole language and sight words. I remediate all of them that I can and refer those I can't to my online lessons and other good books. But, it is so much more work to remediate than to teach correctly in the first place. Until you have seen it, you cannot image how hard it is to undo years of guessing habits. It's easier with younger student, they often surpass their older siblings once they get the hang of phonics and learn all the sound spelling correspondences and syllable division rules. I now warn my students of this up front. My last class of children from inner city schools in the Los Angeles area had two 3rd grade students who were reading at the 12th grade level after just 8 tutoring sessions, but several motivated 5th graders who did homework on their own (they begged for homework!) were only able to progress to somewhere around the 8th grade level. The older the student, the more nonsense words it takes and the more work it is to overcome these guessing habits.

 

It was actually easier and faster to remediate these inner city LA students than inner city Little Rock students or my middle class students, they responded much faster because they did not have years of sight word teaching to overcome. They knew almost nothing to start with--some of them didn't even know all the consonant sounds, which is quite rare in my tutoring experience. But, it was quicker and easer to start from scratch than to have to un-train guessing habits and learn new left to right sounding out habits. The students who had spend the least time in school were the easiest to teach. As a whole, my LA students took 1/4 the time to get to the same point that my Little Rock students did, and it varied by how much time the students had spent in school.

 

ETA: The LA students were in a program for formerly homeless moms, so most of them had been on and off the streets and in and out of inner-city LA schools. They were socio-economically the lowest group of students I have ever worked with, and yet they learned the fastest!!

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Again, you're trying to divide this into either/or.

 

Just like flashcards can be useful in memorizing multiplication facts, they can also be good for memorizing high frequency words.

Neither is used to actually teach the concept, though...

 

Do you have the same objection to using flash cards for math facts??

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Again, you're trying to divide this into either/or.

 

Just like flashcards can be useful in memorizing multiplication facts, they can also be good for memorizing high frequency words.

Neither is used to actually teach the concept, though...

 

If you're using them based on phonics, I don't think it is as likely to cause problems. (But I personally don't because of the troubles my remedial students have had and how much they have suffered, my remedial tutoring has made me a bit paranoid about sight words.) Many students can learn sight words as wholes and some phonics and do fine. But, my experience with my remedial students has shown me that there are problems from teaching sight words as wholes.

 

When schools first started mixing the Dolch words with phonics, I used to think it a few hundred words wouldn't matter that much. Then, I started testing hundreds of children from a mix of schools that used the Dolch words and schools that didn't, and found the differences to be striking. The majority of the students in the schools that taught phonics without the sight words were reading at least a grade level above norms by upper elementary and I have still not found a single remedial student from one of these schools. I would expect that if I test a few hundred more I will eventually find a remedial student from one of these schools. The schools that teach the Dolch words, I find students needing remediation to vary between 30 to 40% depending on socio-economics and the degree to which sight words are emphasized.

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Here are some links and thoughts about the word scramble puzzles:

 

Cambridge Word Scramble Study: It's Fake Already!

 

Word Salad

 

There are specific rules about which letters they can switch and how far they can switch them before you can't read them anymore, it's actually a very limited switching algorithm that will work. A random switching of letters will not produce a readable text.

 

I used to have a good link that I found on a linguistics site to why it works and why it didn't really prove that we were reading words by sight, but I can't find it, this was all I could come up with, it has been a while since that was making the rounds. (The link also explained why it would only work in some languages, and would not work in languages like Hebrew or German.)

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A random switching of letters will not produce a readable text.

But the theory that we're sounding out everything we read, rapidly, would mean that there can be NO switching of letters.

Interestingly, both of those links support the point that we memorize most of the short, common words that we read. :)

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But the theory that we're sounding out everything we read, rapidly, would mean that there can be NO switching of letters.

Interestingly, both of those links support the point that we memorize most of the short, common words that we read. :)

 

I would bet that good readers are actually descrambling super fast and then sounding out. But, I would need an fMRI machine and a bunch of good and poor readers to volunteer to find out.

 

Speaking of fMRI studies, I would love to have access to thousands of volunteers and access to a fMRI to compare the following in a longitudinal study:

 

1. Spanish first with syllables in Pre-K and K, English phonics with syllables in 1st, 2nd and 3rd

 

2. Latin first with syllables in Pre-K and K, English phonics with syllables in 1st, 2nd and 3rd

 

3. Standard Spanish phonics first in Pre-K and K, Regular good phonics program with no Dolch words 1 - 3rd

 

4. Syllabic phonics from Pre-K - 3rd

 

5. Regular good phonics program with no Dolch words Pre-K - 3rd

 

6. Standard reading progression from Pre-K- 3rd including Dolch words

 

I think it would be very interesting to compare fMRI reading brain patterns and reading grade level and spelling level scores when these 6 groups were 4th grade and higher.

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If y'all are really interested in this topic from a scientific point of view, here are a few good books:

 

Reading in the Brain, by Dr. Stanilaus Dehaene

 

My favorite relevant bits:

 

"Reading acquisition has three major phases: the pictorial stage, a brief period where children "photograph" a few words; the phonological stage, where they learn to decode graphemes into phonemes; and the orthographic stage, where word recognition becomes fast and automatic. Brain imaging shows that several brain circuits are altered during this process, notably those of the left occipito-temporal letterbox area."

 

"...in the first year of life, however, the two main faculties that will later be recycled for reading are already being put into place: speech comprehension and invariant visual reception."

 

"...at around the age of five or six, when a child begins to learn to read, the key invariant visual recognition process is in place, although it is still maximally plastic. This period is thus particularly conducive to the acquisition of novel shapes like letters and words."

 

"...the first reading stage, which occurs around the age of five or six, is "logographic" or "pictorial." The child has not yet grasped the logic of writing. The visual system attempts to recognize words as though they were objects and faces. It relies on all the available visual features: shape, color, letter orientation, curvature...At this stage, which often predates formal teaching, the child typically recognizes his name and perhaps a few other striking words such as brand names."

 

"In order to move beyond the pictorial stage, the child must learn to decode words into their component letters and link them to speech sounds. ... Somestimes, the child knows the names of letters (ay, bee, see, dee ...). Unfortunately, this knowledge, far from being helpful, may even delay the acquisition of reading. To know that "s" is pronounced ess, "k" kay, and "i" is useless when we try to read the word "ski." ... A true mental revolution will have to take place where the child finds otu that speech can be broken down into phonemes... "phonemic awareness." It requires explicit teaching of an alphabetic code. Even adults, if not literate, can fail to detect phonemes in words."

 

"When a child attains a certain level of expertise, he reaches Uta Frith's third, orthographic stage. ... At this stage, reading time is no longer determined primarily by word length or by grapheme complexity. Rather, it becomes increasingly influenced by how often a word has been encountered...reflecting[ing] a gradual establishment of a second reading pathway, the lexical route, which progressively supplements letter-to-sound decoding."

 

"..in expert adults---we all read words using a parallel procedure that takes in all letters at once, at least in short words (eight letters or fewer)."

 

Essentially, we memorize certain combinations of parts of words, like suffixes and prefixes, as their own "sight" words.

 

"Prior to reading, when a child sees a written word, there is no trace of the quick convergence towards the left hemisphere that occurs in adults at around 170-200 milliseconds and reflects invariant recognition of letter strings...[instead] the right occipito-temporal region appears to differentiate words from consonant strings....When a clearly lateralized response from the left letterbox area first appears, at around the age of eight, specialization is far from complete. ... The letterbox area only reaches full maturity at the beginning of adolescence--provided, of course, that the child reads regularly enough to become an expert."

 

"...the goal of reading instruction becomes very clear. It must aim to lay down an efficient neuronal hierarchy, so that a child can recognize letters and graphemes and easily turn them into speech sounds. All other essential aspects of the literate mind--the mastery of spelling, the richness of vocabulary, the nuances of meaning, and the pleasures of literature--depend on this crucial step ... without phonological decoding of written words their chances [of getting to the delights of reading] are significantly reduced. ... Reading via the direct route, which leads straight from letter strings to their meaning, only works after many years of practice using the phonological decoding route."

 

Proust and the Squid by Dr. Maryanne Wolf (particularly good when thinking about potential dyslexia)

 

These aren't on reading specifically, but support points in the prior two books:

 

When You Can Trust the Experts by Dr. Willingham

Why Students Don't Like School by Dr. Willingham

The Scientist in the Crib by Dr. Alison Gopnik

What's Going on In There by Dr. Eliot

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