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    Teaching Reading: Bob Book 7 of Set 5

    December 9, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I’ve had a lot of interest in how I use the Bob Books to teach reading, so I thought I would give an example of the book I am currently working on with E. As a background, I suppose I should mention that each Bob Book tends to build on the last one. E. didn’t just magically end up “ready” for Book 7 of Set 5 {entitled “Chickens”}. He spent hours and hours on Book 1 of Set 1, and then hours and hours on Book 2 of Set 1, etc. And he spends extra time on his own. I leave words up on our white board, and he stops during playtime to review them {without my prompting; it’s just something he likes to do}. I have gotten big enough at the end of this pregnancy that the white board is a bit awkward, so this week I wrote everything on a piece of paper. That paper is now in his room so that he can review before and after naptime.

    Who says kids can’t like homework?


    Lesson One

    The first lesson always requires some guess work. After all, there a lots of words in the book that I can assume E. already knows because of previous reading lessons. There are others that follow major phonics rules so completely that he should be able to sound them out as we read, and not need them to be included in the lesson. But sometimes I’m wrong, and something trips him up {like the fact that “was” and “saw” are visual opposites}, and so I have to add them on to the lesson after we’ve read through the book the first time.

    So, as I was saying, I go through the book alone and guess what he needs to learn. I explained this in a former post, but I’ll review it real quick. There are two columns on our white board. The first is for sight words. I will talk more about sight words at the end of this posting, but for now just know that they are there. The words I thought E. needed to learn or review for this particular book were: two, who, said, across, she, friend, another, there. After reading through the book with him, I also found I needed to add sitting and still.

    The second column is for phonics-based learning. It is hard for me to type this the way it would look when I write it, but I will try. Here is the list for the first lesson:

    ch: chicken, chair, checked

    a-e: game, chased, bravely

    oo: room

    ee: cheered

    ea: creaked

    oa: croaked

    o-e: broke

    ou: ground

    When E. reads through this list, he must first tell me the special sound, and then try to read the word. For a-e, he says, “The e is silent, but it tells us that the a says a.” He says a similar line for the o-e rule. E. has already learned all of the above sounds, but there is a need to review every time, and to learn to apply them when endings like -ing or -ed are added.

    We end Lesson One by reading through the book. If it turns out extra hard, we may only read the first five or seven pages. The point is not for him to read it perfectly, but for me to know what else I need to teach him in order for him to be able to read the book.


    Lesson Two

    The second lesson reviews all of the first lesson, but I might add what I learned by hearing his first attempt to read the book. For instance, in this particular book, E. had major trouble with the words creaked and croaked. So for lesson two, this will be added to the phonics list:

    ea: creaked, speak, lead, smear, etc.

    oa: croaked, boat, moan, bloat, etc.

    Which additional words are used don’t particularly matter. The point is to reinforce the phonics rules that are a bit fuzzy in his mind.

    After reviewing all the sight words list and all the phonics rules lists, we sit to read the book again.

    There is no set number of lessons. We simply keep going, reviewing, and refining, until it is learned. Remember, we try to keep this around 15 or 20 minutes, so it may take a whole week for a short book. The end result should be nothing short of mastery of the book. Taking the extra time to master each book before moving on will be of great benefit down the line when new rules and applications of rules are being added to the lessons.


    A Note on Sight Words

    Eventually, for a child to be a great reader, every word must become a sight word. Phonics empower a child to learn words on his own. As he becomes able to break a word down into its parts, it becomes a sort of puzzle for him to figure out alone. This assures that the parent will not have to hand-hold him through every new word. But phonics alone can make it hard to decipher the meaning of the text because constantly sounding words out breaks of the rythym of the sentences.

    Sight reading is the way a true reader reads. I don’t have to sound out words (unless they are new), because I have literally thousands, if not millions, of words memorized. This is the way that reading works for every good reader. For this reason, E. is encouraged to go beyond the phonics. I am known to tell him, “See this word? You just sounded it out. Do you remember it? Try to remember it. It is going to appear on almost every page of this book, so you need to know it. Remember it.”

    It is good to learn phonics. It is empowering a child to teach himself a few words. But becoming able to sight read is what will guarantee a child reading success.


    For more information on how I teach reading with Bob Books, check out my teaching reading blog.


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