So here she was reading a level D Nonfiction book. She confuses her b's and d's and usually I would prompt her with this little organizer, but because it was a benchmark, she had to ask for this tool rather than me handing it to her:
But do you see how I was scripting what she was saying? Then she says to herself, "Does that make sense?" and she went on talking aloud to herself saying, "No, it doesn't."
As a Reading Specialist, this is what I want her to do, to problem solve on her own, without my help, to use strategies I prompt her with in guided reading on her own. Even though this means she frustrated on level E, which is a beginning-of-first-grade level, I feel so proud in what she demonstrated to me. Not only did she verbalize the semantic cueing system, she also:
- read punctuation, dialog, and bold words with proper inflection
- cross-checked to pictures and words
- looked back at the title or another page she had already read to help her solve a new word
- substituted words that made sense
- retold the story by looking back across the text
On the level E book, she had a lot of errors, and two repeated with the following:
After it was all said and done, I taught on these miscues. I had her say with and we paid attention to where her tongue was on the /th/ - buzzing by her teeth. Then we said the nonsense word wif - and we noticed that her tongue was in the back of her mouth to say /f/.
That's the purposeful kind of conversations that come from running records. Oh, super cute, she miscued: loof for loose. At one point I was looking to see if she had lost all her front teeth!
I've just been reflecting on all this because I know we have these benchmarks to attain, but for me, it's never the level. This little kiddo did so many things that made my heart swell with pride - and those strategies she has now are hers - her strategies to take her up the levels to more complex text, especially as I think about how kids have to get over that hump from easy picture books to the beginning chapter books around levels J-K-L.
Also, we have to remember that all children develop in their own time. While this particular kiddo may only be at level E right now, she may come back and then have instruction click in second grade and then all of a sudden she's made four levels of growth in four months.
The strategies are what is important. Not the reaching for higher and higher levels.