In both our whole group reading lessons and our small goups, we've been discussing how all readers come across words they don't know. It's the good readers, though, who have tricks or strategies for figuring out those new words. Here are the strategies we will be using this year:
1. Look at the picture. Some people used to think that using pictures was "cheating"; we now know that this is a valuable cueing system, especially for first graders who are so good at "reading pictures".
2. Get you mouth ready. Just by getting their mouths ready for the first sound of a word, readers can often identify a new word.
3. Does it sound right? Use your sounds. This is when a reader makes sure that the word being said matches up with the sounds in the word. S/he uses the sounds to identify a new word. S/he also uses the syntax/structure of a sentence to fit in a word that sounds right.
4. Look for chunks. We have been working hard on our "gold star word wall words". These are words like cat, all, and will that are all part of strong "word families". They are words that help us to read and write lots of other words. The word will, for instance, contains a chunk (-ill) that helps us to read and write many other words like mill, still and fill. When we get stuck on new words, we look for chunks of letters that are familiar.
5. Reread. As readers we often reread what we know to identify or get clues about the unknown word.
6. Does it make sense? As readers we are always asking this question. We can, therefore, often identify a new word by the context clues of a sentence.It is a great help for you to become acquainted with these strategies to coach your child during home reading assignments. Having a wide repertoire of word strategies will prepare your new reader for many different types of reading and ultimately for enjoyment of stories for years to come.