My job as a teacher is not only to make sure learning is occurring, but to help make learning fun.  One thing that can be  very frustrating for beginning and struggling readers is transitioning from inventive text of using the picture to make up a story to actually looking at the words and reading what the author wrote.  This takes work.  For beginning and struggling readers who do not have a large bank of known words the act of matching of voice and print can be very difficult, not to mention frustrating.

One of my groups of 1st graders has transitioned from Interactive Writing (I have other posts regarding IW if you want to know more) into a Guided Reading Plus group where they have word work, book reading, and writing portions.  Last week I noticed the boys were grumbling at me when I told them to point to each word to make sure it was matching.  I decided I needed to bring an incentive to pointing to the words.  I went to Party City and purchased a pack of plastic witch and vampire fingers to get them pointing to each word.

My boys were taught to get your finger underneath the first letter of the word.  As you can see above, the student on the left has a point more off to the side.  This process is new and something we are still working on ironing out.  Why is it important that the student point under the first letter of the word?  This can help in problem solving new and unknown words.  We teach the students to get their mouth ready, think about what would make sense, use the picture for help, and try something.  Often times we have the student start out by saying the first sound in the word.  It is difficult for the student to sound out a word or break it down into parts if they don’t have a crisp, clean point.  This way the student can slowly run his/her finger underneath the word to check to make sure he/she was correct.

Needless to say, the boys were really excited when I pulled out the witch and vampire fingers.  They quickly slipped them on and miraculously the 1:1 matching was pretty amazing.  (And it was difficult to get them to give the witch and vampire fingers back.)  We still have lots of work when it comes to making sure our reading is accurate AND matching, but we have a good start.  The boys have a fire of excitement on their side that I hope continues into our next wave of learning.