Struggling readers need to build a core of words that they know quickly and automatically--that they can recognize without effort. They also need to develop a system for learning how to learn words. Here are some ideas for ways to help children look at and learn a new word:
1. Use language that makes it clear you are talking about a word: "This word is _____." (Some children confuse letters and words.)
2. Tell children to look at the beginning of the word and show them what that means (first letter on the left).
3. Read the word to children as you run your finger under the word, left to right.
4. Ask children to look closely at the word and say what they notice at the beginning.
5. Ask them to look at the word and then read it as they use a finger to check it, left to right.
6. Remind them of another word that will help them remember a new word: an, and; the, then.
7. Help children notice the first letter and then look at the rest of the letters in the word, left to right, to notice more.
8. Give children magnetic letters in order to build the word left to right.
9. After building the word, have children take it apart and build it several times.
10. After building the word several times, have children write the word.
11. Show children how to check the word they have written letter by letter: a, a, n, n, d, d.
12. Have children, using magnetic letters, break the word apart by pulling down the first letter (s) and then the rest of the letters, e.g., s-ee, th-e.
From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.