Saturday, December 13, 2014

thoughts on transfer

I've been working with my Tier 3 kiddo for over a year. I see him for 30 minutes a day for a Tier 2 intervention (either 1:1 or in a group of three depending on his schedule) and then for an additional 15 minutes 1:1. In our small group, he gets Leveled Literacy Intervention - reading fluency, comprehension, and word study. During his Tier 3 intervention, he gets Intensive Phonics.

In our Intensive Phonics, we've finally gotten to sight words. I've been teaching those explicitly in conjunction with guided writing. This week, transfer was highlighed to perfectly clear to me!

We all hope to teach our students strategies and skills that will transfer to their independent work. For example, when I was teaching middle school, I taught the reading strategies, hoping my students would begin to use them always when they read independently to better understand whatever they were reading. But transfer doesn't just happen because you teach something.

Case in point:

The way I've been doing sight words is by beginning with a review. I have my kiddo write the ones I've explicitly taught each day when we begin - kinda like a spelling test. Then, I'd instruct one or two more (by asking my kiddo, "What phonics rules does the word follow? What rules does it break?" and then using Jan Richardson's strategies for sight words.) Finally, we would end our 15 minutes with guided writing, where I'd have him write dictated sentences composed of sight words he has learned.

One day last week, he wrote his words and then we moved on to sentences. I dictated, "Did your friend come home with you?"

He wrote, "Did yor frend cum home yif you?"
(Sidenote: He hasn't learned your as a sight word or the vowel combo in friend.)

Now, this was after he came back from missing a week of school, so when I said, "Buddy, how come you missed that word, come?" He got all mad telling me, "Ms. Brezek, I was sick all those days and didn't practice!" I said, "But look back at the sight words you wrote - you spelled it right five minutes ago!" He was kinda shocked!

This is what I'm saying about transfer: My kiddo had the word in the way I was assessing - like a spelling test, but he did not have it when it was applied in another context. I can't assume that because I teach him how to spell a sight word that he will use it correctly in Writer's Workshop or as he writes for other purposes.

Now, if I'm a specialist meeting 1:1 with a kiddo and am reminded of transfer, what does this mean for the other interventions I've given, or for that matter, all the ways I have taught in the past?

I'm constantly reminded of these lessons and know that I will never know everything. I'm glad this happened this week, because I am no longer doing the long spelling-list type assessment. Now, he's writing many more dictated sentences and I'm going to assess his knowledge of sight words that way. And, I want to see his Writer's Notebook!

Did you learn something new this week? Leave a comment and join the conversation!


  1. I am right there with you. I am pulling my hair out with the interactive achievement tests we have to give that mirror our state assessments we do in May. I have been working with my kids on Close Reading strategies which should help them with thinking deeply, questioning, analyzing text information for importance, etc. and therefore, they should improve performance on the interactive achievement tests too. Transfer from paper/pencil work to the computer is not happening as I'd like. I need an intervention for me....sigh.

  2. I feel your pain! It makes me want to pull out my hair when I give an assessment on something we've studied only to see them make the same mistakes in their writing. Sometimes, I see their writing on facebook and feel like a complete failure. Have I taught them nothing?! haha

  3. This is exactly what I needed to read! Thanks! I have a couple students who consistently have serious spelling problems when writing paragraphs but score 100% on weekly spelling tests!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...