Questioning the cross-print connections
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 in our training materials, and our many discussions on the subject. Even with that knowledge, I kept hoping that my student’s stronger abilities in reading would ‘pull up’ what was missing in writing.
An unbalanced cross-print connection
The time came for me to ‘teach behind the glass’ (yep – a window to my fellow RR colleages, and a mirror to my student and I!) After watching me teach a lesson, my colleagues and teacher leader agreed that my student was well on her way to becoming a strong and confident reader. She was moving up one reading level almost every week. The challenge was the writing part of the lesson – from generating a sentence, to recording the sounds in words, and remembering high frequency words.
Two of my colleagues had already watched a lesson at my school and made suggestions for building up writing skills practice time with the classroom teacher, parents and volunteers. Not much had changed. Dare I break the three, ten-minute chunk lesson format to dedicate more time to writing?
In our group, we decided that I needed to address the challenges that were appearing when it was time to put thoughts into print. I had to link through my student’s (stronger) reading abilities to do so. We added some time to the writing segment of her lesson for a couple of weeks. I also went into her classroom a few times to ensure she was using her strategies there. That, combined with visuals right at her desk helped her to make the connections she needed to link what she was learning in the Reading Recovery room, one on one, to her classroom, and become increasingly independent.
Visuals matter and discovery moments are magical!
I used to draw and clip little pictures before I had access to all of this great clip art, so many of my past students had less – polished versions of what I am able to use these days! Their personal alphabet books were a valuable tool, particularly early in lessons.
I had mini-posters that I rotated on the bulletin board next to where we worked with magnetic letters. My little students noticed when I changed them, and would get excited to see if they could figure out what clues were hiding in them – a Where’s Waldo effect, of sorts.
I have polished them up with clip art and added them to a number of the Sight-Word-Stages readers, sentence puzzles and fun follow-ups sets. Here are some examples:
A child’s understanding of both reading and writing have as much to give to each other as they have to gain. 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.
Reading and writing are essentially two sides of the same coin, inseparable.
Do you agree?
Until next time,
Tips for building cross-print connections