As your child learns how to read, you’ll hear about things like sight words, leveled reading, and possibly reading intervention. Here are resources to get you up to speed and questions to ask your child’s teacher for information about how these topics relate to your reader.
Kids in school today will take a variety of assessments, from annual End of Grade (EOG) tests starting in 3rdgrade to ongoing assessments about what they’re learning in the curriculum. There are a range of reading assessments that teachers will use to make sure kids are on track with their reading skills. Some include DIBELS, STAR, AimsWeb, and NWEA MAP.
Balanced literacy is an approach to organizing reading instruction that includes reading aloud, guided reading, shared reading, interactive writing, and shared writing, as well as word study and reading and writing workshop.
Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. When children have strong comprehension skills they can make sense of what they read, identify the main idea and details, retell a story or summarize and article, and know when they are not understanding and take steps, like rereading, to fix their comprehension.
Children read fluently when they read words at apace that is fast enough to be understood and are not stopping often to sound out words. Fluent readers also add expression to what they read, by reading punctuation (for example, when their voice rises to indicate a question mark)and dialogue. The key to developing fluency is by reading…a lot.
Teachers group students into small group based on the skills they’re working on to focus instruction on what students need to be taught.
Children are given a reading level based on an assessment of their reading skill. Then, they are given books to read that are on and around their reading level.
A Lexile level is a way to understand how difficult a text is. It considers the words used, how complex sentences are.
Resource: This video from Lexile explains how Lexile levels are calculated and what parents need to know.
Ask the teacher: What is my child’s Lexile level? What skills is he working on at that level? What skills does he need to master to reach the next level? How do you use Lexile levels?
Phonemic awareness is a child’s ability to hear the individual sounds in words. For example, knowing that the word /cat/ has three sounds /c/ /a/ and /t/. When a child has strong phonemic awareness, he can pull apart words into individual sounds and substitute new sounds into a word, changing “cat” to “mat” and “sat.”
Knowledge of phonics means that students understand the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent. This means recognizing letter combinations and sounds as well as word parts (prefixes, root words, and suffixes). A child with strong phonics knowledge will be able to sound out words, such as “chain” by reading the individual sounds “ch” “ai” “n” and pull apart longer words into word parts, reading “unopened” by breaking it into “un” “open” “ed.”
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a process that helps schools ensure that children who need additional help are getting it. When a child is not developing reading skills at the rate teachers expect, they may receive reading intervention or extra help. This help can come in the form of a small group in their regular classroom, one-on-one tutoring outside of class, or another arrangement. For more information, see Response to Intervention.
Ask the teacher: What skills does my child need to focus on? What interventions are being provided? Why were those interventions chosen? How long will the interventions be in place? How will I be involved in this process? How can I support the intervention at home?
Sight words are words that children learn to read as whole words, like “is” “it” “was” and “there.” Children do not typically learn the spelling patterns for these words but memorize them.
Vocabulary refers to the number of words that a child knows. This includes common words (often called Tier 1 words) that are used in everyday language, as well as less common (Tier 2) words that are often found in picture books and text, and content-specific words (Tier 3), such as words related to biology (cell, ecosystem, etc) are less common.
The Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy has an explanation of Tier 1, 2, and 3 words and an example of how they are incorporated into a lesson.
This lesson from Teaching Channel shows how one teacher uses pictures to teach students new words and practice phonemic awareness.
This article from Colorin Colorado explains how to select words to teach English language learners.
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