Do you have students that look at the first letter or part of a word, then say the first thing that pops into their minds? Yep, me too! As I read with readers who are having difficulties, I find that I am constantly writing….Student’s Focus of Instruction; Pay careful attention to the words! There are so many reasons that students don’t attend to the words, but whatever the reason, it is a huge problem. Here are two things that help a lot with this problem.
1. Play the “Which Word?” Game.
We use a simple page with rows of words that look similar, but are different words. In the picture you can see an example for my 2nd and newbie ELL 3rd graders, and also an example for my 5th graders. I tell them a word to find, they find it, whack it with a whacker, and get a point if they are correct. This simple game really gets them to pay close attention to the WHOLE word and develop an understanding of how words can look so much alike, but be so different! The beauty of this game? You can keep it easy and simple by using pencils as whackers, or as fancy as you please. (And yes, even my 5th grade boys love the cheesy star whackers!)
2. Crazy Reading.
This couldn’t be simpler and works so well. Using a book that we have read in reading group or are about to read, I read a section of the book making all kinds of crazy errors. The errors I make involve using the first sounds of the word, but saying a different word. Example: I say…extinguish…when the word is really extinct. The students follow along silently while I read and call me out when I make a mistake. They say…”That’s Crazy!!!” every time I make a mistake. The more mistakes I make like that, the more it messes up the story, and that makes the point of how important it is to PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU READ! You can even have volunteers be the crazy reader. They love it, are highly engaged, and get the point!
So there you go. These two easy-to-use strategies really work well. Give them a try. I bet your students will be paying closer attention to words in no time.