Guest Bloggin'

I'm thrilled to say that I am a Guest Blogger over at Teaching in High Heels today.  Click here to hop on over and check out Gladys' fabulous blog or you can find a link to her blog on my sidebar.  Below is my guest post...

Hi Everyone

My name is Sandra Farrell and I teach Grade 2 in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  My blog is Sandra's Savvy Teaching Tips.  Click here to go and take a look.  I just love to read comments, and when I have the time, I love to comment on other blogs too!  Please tell me what you think.  I've only been a teacher blogger for a few months.  Although, I have a papercrafting blog which I've been doing for almost 4 years now.

 I have been teaching for almost 20 years (gasp!)  I started my teaching in half-day Kindergarten.  I moved on to ESL full-day Kindergarten in an enormous inner city school for 8 years.  I've been at my current school for almost 10 years and I have taught Grade 1 and 2 since I arrived here.  I love, love, love teaching Grade 2!!!

In the year 2000 I spent a year teaching in New Zealand. At that time, New Zealand was at the forefront of developing early literacy education.   If you are a young teacher, you may not realize that Reading Recovery was developed in New Zealand.   All of those little leveled books that we use now, come out of this program.  PM readers was the original New Zealand prgram, but now many other publishers have developed great programs as well.  Before that, children learned to read with Basal Readers.  But I digress...  My point is that when I was in New Zealand I leard a lot about teaching reading from some very experienced and successful teachers.   The most important thing to do when teaching reading is to make sure that your children READ EVERY DAY, and that your low readers also READ TO YOU.

 I know that all of you realize that your students need to read EVERY DAY.  What you may not realize is that each student should read TO YOU every day.  Of course, that happens only in a class of 8 students right?  And who has that these days?  Your readers who are below expectations should definitely read to you every day.  Even if it's just part of a story.

So what do you actually do when your students are sitting in front of you reading?

What I want to show you are a seet of specific strategies.  You can download these little posters for FREE at the bottom of this post.  These are presented in no particular order as each child is a unique learner.

LOOK AT THE PICTURE - Ah yes, look at the picture.  Seems obvious right?  You would be amazed at how many children need to be taught this.  Doing a picture walk is a great way to model this.  Discuss the picture and what clues the children might find from it.

LOOK AT THE FIRST LETTER   - Again, looking at the first letter seems obvious, but many children will look at the whole word, and then say what they think it says instead of sounding it out.  Focusing on the first letter draws the childrens eyes directly to the text.  Sometimes the illustrations are not very clear either and so looking at the text helps a lot.
STRETCH OUT THE WORD - this strategy helps a child find all the sounds in a word.  Also, stretching it helps them blend the sounds together and helps them with meaning.  Using a rubber band and stretching it when saying the word can help too.

SKIP AND RETURN  -  This strategy words well when building fluency.  Sometimes the meaning of the sentence comes out with the other words in the sentence.

LOOK TO THE END  -  I am always amazed at the number of children who simply drop the endings of their words.  Now I teach in a highly ESL environment, so that probably contributes, but every year I have a number of students who need to focus on the endings of their words.

FIND A CHUNK THAT YOU KNOW - or Chunking as it is commonly called.  This is where studying word families really helps.  When children learn part of a word, they can sometimes apply that when trying to work out tricky vowel combinations or silent letters.
GO BACK AND READ IT AGAIN - I was fascinated to watch this skill develop in my own son.  He is a natural reader and had beginning sight words and sounds before his fourth birthday.  (just a little Mommy braggin here)  But you know how you NEVER have the time to read with your strong readers every day, one-on-one.  This was my first opportunity to watch closely a child who was developing all these skills by himself.  And this particular skill was one that he uses EVERY TIME he finds a word he doesn't know.  He figures out the difficult word, and then goes back and reads the sentence again to get the full meaning.  You can hear in his intonation once he understands the meaning.

DOES IT SOUND RIGHT - This skill doesn't work for every child, especially your ESL learners, but I use it when it's pretty obvious that the sentence doesn't sound right.  

This is very similar to finding a chunk that you know.  When reading with some children I will use my fingers to cover part of the word and ask the children to say the sounds that they can see.  It's amazing when they suddenly 'get it'

So there you have it.  I hope you enjoy these reading strategy posters.  When I taught Grade One I taught all these strategies at the start of the year and then referred to each strategy over the year.  With Grade Twos I tend to go over them all at the start as a review, and then refer to them as I need them during the year.  It's amazing to see the little ones look up and try to decide on a strategy, or for me to point out a strategy poster in order to remind them of something they could do when they get stuck on a word.

So if you would like to download this FREEBIE

Please drop by my blog and let me know what you think of these posters!




  1. Thanks for these! I think I am going to make small, personal flash cards for my kiddos to use during read to self.


  2. Love this! I've linked to you on my blog and given an award!

  3. Flashcards are a fabulous idea - I hadn't thought of that one. And thanks Margaret for the award. I need some time to set up my reply thanks!

  4. I loved your post! Thanks for sharing! I am a new follower. I found your blog from Teaching In High Heels.