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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy

More How to Teach Reading Through Conferring in Writing Arlyne LeSchack

It is a generally accepted theory that in reading we take in information from three major sources: print, meaning and syntax. Print is the letters and the sounds they represent. Meaning for young readers is very often represented by picture. And syntax is whether or not the text sounds right. We can help our student writers by applying this same information to their writing. When they have trouble reading their own print we can remind them in our conferences to let the pictures help them with the meaning of their stories; later they can reread to see if their stories sound right.

Another important reading strategy is using parts from known words to read unknown words. You may already use this when you work with word study, but you can also use it during writing workshop conferences. As students are composing their writing you can coach them by reminding them of words they know and how to use that knowledge to expand to words they don't know how to read or spell as yet. Word families are very handy in this situation. Many children know “at” and can be prompted for words that contain “at” such as “that.” You can do a small group mini-lesson for students who have similar needs in this area.

As I mentioned above, we use at least three sources of information when we read: print, meaning, and syntax. Sometimes students depend on one source more than the others. Students who are always "sounding out" when they read are depending on the visual (the print). They can be encouraged to focus on the meaning and the syntax. Again, they know the meaning of their stories and that can help them write the stories. Hopefully they can then apply this knowledge when they are reading other people's writing as well. Knowing when things sound right (syntax) can be learned through re-reading for fluency. Meaning is served here as well.

Reading and writing are interconnected. When we teach children to show rather than tell in their writing, they become better writers. They also become better readers because they realize that other authors are showing rather than telling and this helps students learn to infer. As teachers we can connect any strategy that we are using in reading workshop to writing workshop. That way when we come around to confer with our young students writers we can use individual or small group mini-lessons to reinforce both our reading and writing teaching points. This doubles our chances of creating literate students.

If you have comments or questions, please contact me at aleschack@aol.com.

 

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