During my training year in Reading Recovery, one of my students’ reading had taken off and I was finally beginning to feel like I was making progress as a Reading Recovery teacher. The writing was still a struggle, but I figured it would come. I can remember reading about the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing, and hoping that my student’s stronger abilities in reading would ‘pull up’ what was missing in writing. I was less sure of myself when we discussed the reading in our professional development group, and had colleagues in to watch me teach a lesson with this student, and they agreed that reading was stronger. The challenge was the timer. Dare I break the three, ten-minute chunk lesson format to dedicate more time to writing? My colleagues and I weren’t sure. We were all new to the game. We called in our teacher leader.
My student’s reading did plateau as these visits were scheduled and occurring. It seems I’d had it backwards. What I needed to do was address the challenges that were appearing when it was time to put thoughts into print. I could link through my student’s reading abilities to do so. We added some time to the writing segment of her lesson for a couple of weeks and it helped. I also went into her classroom to ensure she was using her strategies there.
There is a reciprocal relationship between reading and writing. A child’s understanding of and skill in reading, and also in writing, have as much to give to each other as they have to gain. Reading cannot be effectively be taught without writing, and writing cannot be effectively taught without reading. What a child learns about stories, the world of print and his relationship to them while reading, he can apply to writing; just as the same lessons and experiences in writing will aid him in reading.
Early readers and writers vary in their ability to make cross-print connections. One child may notice a word in a book that she practiced writing at school the week before, when another may not recognize it at all, for example. This is why it is so important to draw attention to cross-print connections. We need kids to see that reading and writing are essentially two sides of the same coin, rather than two different coins altogether.
Tips for building cross-print connections