As a strategy group I always start by asking why we read. Each time I try to discuss places, types of books, strategies they know, or times we read. I try a different discussion point each time. The point is to have these struggling readers see value and ownership in the reading process.
Today I asked them if they knew any good reading strategies for big words, especially big words that I don't know. One student brought up sounding the whole thing out, while another thought that it took too long on big words. They all went on to agree that sounding it out might take too long.
Students went on to talk about breaking it into pieces, that there are sometimes parts to words they think. One student confirmed that words can be in pieces. I asked if their was another name for word pieces. As soon as I said this, a student shouted out with excitement, "CHUNKS!"
This is when I am so excited to begin the lesson. Students also feel very confident and more open to participating. They listen and try harder when it start off this positive.
To model I explain that the strategy I am about to teach them is like a magic trick. If you do it amazing things happen while you read. This only works if you try and stop and o it right. Just like any magic trick you have to do all the steps or the trick falls apart.
I begin by handing them out a leveled reader that is below their reading level, closer to second grade. I give them all a different book so that when we share they all have something different to tell.
I show them using my book, I explain that I know its too easy, but it could be just right to practice strategies in. It's also important that students realize that what I am about to do aloud, I really do in my head. So I start by showing them how I would read a page. Today I purposefully messed up a sentence so that I would have to go back and reread it to fix it. I ask them right away to tell me what they saw me do.
I then model the "Slap Check" strategy. When I come to the end of the page I slap my hand down like Slap Jack. Then in my head I check to see if I can recall what I read. I model out loud how I recall the information and think it through to understand what I read.
Students are now asked to model, on the first page of their book, reading the page and "Slap Checking" at the end. Each of them are going to get a chance to share their understanding of the first page. I help them out if needed. This is one of the reasons I hand out such an easy book, they have more success and less need for guidance.
Next, students are going to read the whole book (can be a few pages depending on the book) and on each page demonstrate the "Slap Check." When everyone has finished I ask them to go abck and find one page that they would like to model for the group the strategy. This is fun and they become interested in each others book.
After their modeling we do a quick debriefing of how it went. Students get the chance to tell me what worked and what didn't. In this lesson, my students only had positive things to say and no one expressed trouble understanding the strategy.
In this discussion we also talk about why this strategy would be important, and when we should be using it. We make predictions on what will happen if we did this every time we read. I then ask students to show me the strategy next week so I can see how well its working. When I do this check in I try to do it individually.