Northwest K-8 Learning Support addresses the literacy needs of students by first assessing a child’s reading level. Through diagnostic testing in the first few tutoring sessions, a plan is developed for increasing comprehension and fluency. If there is difficulty with reading, it is important to target problem areas and then tailor instruction accordingly.
Northwest K-8 Learning Support can assist students with pre-reading and writing activities to reinforce letters and their associated sounds. Knowing letters and their respective sounds is the first step toward recognizing or decoding words.
Wired for Reading by Laura Rogan: Building a Strong Foundation for Reading and Writing
Students that struggle with reading and writing, receive direct and sequenced instruction with respect to knowledge of individual sounds, syllables, or word roots. If learning letters and sounds is frustrating at first, it is important to provide additional incentives. With this aim in mind, Northwest K-8 Learning Support introduces the building blocks of reading and writing with hands-on activities that help access the world of words in an engaging way. For example, students may enjoy: learning about the vowel superstars, sorting words and letters according to their sounds, or visualizing the shape your mouth makes when producing a sound. Employing all of the senses such as sight, sound, and touch allows students to experience the fun of learning how to read and write.
Reading instruction begins with teaching letters and their sounds. The next step is to read at the “word-level,” decoding the sounds and blending them into words. Emergent or beginning readers receive direct and carefully sequenced instruction of: initial sounds, word families, spelling patterns, and tricky vowel and consonant combinations. First steps in learning how to read are supported with the direct teaching and modeling of how to use rhyming words, sight words, and picture clues. Students learn how to develop fluency and accuracy while recognizing familiar sounds and patterns in words. For example, students that have strong oral capabilities enjoy hearing a word or phrase that is repeated in a predictable pattern throughout a story or text. Beginning to read takes practice, however students are also encouraged to experience the “wonder” contained in a good story, interesting fact, or beautiful illustration.
Established readers will continue to make progress in their independent reading by: re-reading, refining written responses to reading comprehension questions, identifying key vocabulary , clarifying and connecting with what is being read, and developing strategies for increasing comprehension. Students are taught how to use the conventions of print (bolded words, headings, graphs, glossaries, pictures, or context clues) to assist with comprehension of non-fiction books and texts.
Writing is a powerful tool that lasts a life time. The written word is so often what gives students a chance to have a voice and to experiment with their ideas. With that in mind, students at Northwest K-8 Learning Support receive instruction on all of the steps of the writing process, including brainstorming, writing drafts, editing, and revising. Students will learn strategies for how to choose powerful words and structure sentences to convey a message or tell a story. In addition to revising, students are taught proofreading skills that help develop a critical eye for writing conventions: spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Students are encouraged to look at their writing as an outlet for creativity or an avenue for clarifying and organizing their thoughts. When needed, students are also provided the opportunity to complete written work on one of Northwest K-8′s computers.
The Reading and Writing Connection
If you have ever wondered how musicians that improvise can play without sheet music, you will quickly learn that they have developed an “ear” for what sounds good from many hours of listening to other musicians. The same is true for developing readers and writers, just like listening and playing music; the two activities are linked.
At least half of reading comprehension comes from the reader’s own knowledge and experience. Readers that also enjoy writing, find it easier to develop an understanding or “ear” for what an author is trying to convey.
Conversely, good writers cannot be good writers in a vacuum. A writer must use words that conjure up sensory details or feeling and thoughts that are colored by what can be touched, felt, seen, or heard. A writer can actually draw upon what they experienced, imagined, or pictured from their favorite books. A writer’s best teachers are the authors of the books they have read or stories they have heard.