Who would think that a series of lessons on syllables and word parts would be a happy success story for 4th graders? I have a group of ESOL students who have been stuck for a while in their reading progress. They were referred to me as the Reading Specialist because our ESOL teachers were stretched too thin. I did some assessment and found that they all had weaknesses in decoding multiple syllable words. Further instruction revealed that they were not secure in knowing vowels or vowel sounds and were confused by the terms “consonants” and “continents.” That’s an important distinction.
It was a hard decision about whether to go full throttle on word study or continue to try to work word study into guided reading lessons. Since I am their intervention teacher, I see them outside their Reading Workshop time. Knowing that they still have reading time in their classrooms, I decided to give intervening with word study a try. It has been a slow, sometimes painful process. But today it seemed like something clicked for all 5 students. They were able to identify syllables, name the syllable types in words, and try different strategies for breaking words. Knowing this discrete information may seem unnecessary to some teachers, but I think it might be giving them access to more options for word solving. At least that is my intention.
I’m so excited by this breakthrough and hope that in noticing words more closely, they will have more confidence in attacking words in continuous text. Next, I’m planning to reveal “The Mystery of the SCHWA!”
This process is challenging my notions of reading and writing and I do believe that you get better at reading and writing by reading and writing. However, I’m trying to trust that filling in some gaps in word knowledge will have a positive effect on their success as readers and writers. If today was any indication, I may have made a good decision!