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Collin, a kindergartner, and literacy expert Michele Dufresne read and write together one or two times a week. We hope that as we share Collin’s progress with you, you are able to take bits of learning to use with your own students.

Pioneer Valley Books has been hard at work this year on a new project. We have created an online Leveled Reading Assessment for parents to use. The goal of the assessment is to help parents make good choices about what levels of books to select for their children to read. The easy-to-use assessment will be soon found at a new Pioneer Valley Books website just for parents. The website will include video, news, and tips about how parents can help their children with learning to read. There will also be packages of leveled books parents can purchase for the home.

I decided it would be a good time to try out the Leveled Reading Assessment with Collin. I have been tutoring Collin one or two times a week for several months. (See earlier blogs about his progress). I used the assessment with Collin when I first began to work with him. Just a few months ago, the assessment placed him at Level A (Intervention Level 1). He had very few words he could recognize in print and did not have one-to-one established. Last week we began reading level G books (Intervention Level 12) and I am very pleased with his progress. I wanted to find out what the assessment would show now.

First, Collin was asked to read some words. This part of the assessment helps decide where the text reading should begin. The first word Collin missed was the word "opened."

Next, Collin was asked to read. The first story was Little Knight Makes a Friend. Collin read the story and then I tallied how many errors Collin made. He read the word kitten for knight several times but made very few other errors and did some great problem solving and self-correcting at difficulty. Because he read the text at a greater than 90% accuracy, the assessment took us to the next story. At this level, it became quite slow and very hard and I stopped the assessment. I recorded that Collin had “struggled” with the text. You can watch him reading here.

According to the assessment results Collin is reading at level G, which confirms the progress I have been making with him throughout the school year.

When the assessment becomes public and parents begin to use this assessment, I know they will get a similar accurate level for their children. Parents should use the assessment to select appropriate books for their children to read.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: The Lost Money

May 29, 2012 9:49:59 AM

Collin, a kindergartner, and literacy expert Michele Dufresne read and write together one or two times a week. We hope that as we share Collin’s progress with you, you are able to take bits of learning to use with your own students.

As Collin’s reading improves, I have started to change my book introductions to new books. With early level books, I explain the whole story and don’t leave much to be worked out. I usually practice the language structure with the student. With Collin, I am starting to leave things to solve on his own, but I am still starting with a synopsis of the story. I don’t want Collin to guess what the story is about. I want him to know and therefore successfully anticipate the story. After the book introduction, Collin and I look at the illustrations and discuss what is happening in the text. In this video, I introduce Collin to a Level E book called The Lost Money. Collin has read some other stories about the same characters in the text, Georgie Giraffe and Monkey. I like to use books that have recurring characters. I think it builds the interest of the student in the text and increases reading comprehension. I wish I hadn’t mucked up calling it a handstand, though (it’s a headstand!). Oh well!

In this next video, Collin reads the story. He has a nice pace with new books, and I think he sounds good. He is monitoring his errors well. See what you think!

The Lost Money provides good teaching opportunities for learning how to take words apart (the-n, and a-round). I used that as a teaching point after the reading.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin, a kindergartner, and literacy expert Michele Dufresne read and write together one or two times a week. We hope that as we share Collin’s progress with you, you are able to take bits of learning to use with your own students.

If you have been following my recent posts about Collin, I think you have noticed the progress he has made. Today I will discuss Collin’s writing. Marie Clay tells us, “Reading and writing are two different ways of learning about the same thing – the written code used to record oral language.” (Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals, Part Two, p. 49). Collin, like many emergent readers, is learning so much about the written code, and it is paying off in his reading.

Before having a student write, I like to start with a good conversation. When I first began working with Collin, he mostly nodded or answered yes or no to my questions. Now that he has become more familiar with the routine he has become quite the conversationalist! He is interested in many topics, which helps us plan our writing. Here is a video of a recent conversation we had. I thought we might write about how he went to the beach that day, but he had other ideas!

In the next video, Collin controls many early writing behaviors. He writes with lowercase letters, leaves nice spaces between words, and remembers to re-read his story when he is thinking about what to write next. He also hears many sounds in words and has developed a strong core of words he knows how to write.

I have just started having Collin run his finger under the word box and say the word he is trying to write slowly instead of pushing his finger into the box. I do this because he has shown me he can hear the sounds in order and record many of them correctly. I am thinking about giving him boxes for every letter instead of each sound. I think I could have done a better job helping him with the word "growing" (I think I should have asked him to run his finger under it right from the get go). Oh well, if I only posted perfect lessons you wouldn’t get to see much!

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin is continuing to make great progress. He is consistently self-correcting errors, he seems to be learning new words fairly well, and he is also getting a bit faster in his reading.

This week I introduced him to a new book from the African Friends set. Little Monkey is Brave is a level 6/D book from this Readers’ Theatre set. Each book in this set includes a story and the same story rewritten as a play. I also gave Collin the little finger puppets that go with this set so he could perform the play with his family. He was very excited, and his parents told me the whole family enjoyed retelling the story using the puppets. Introducing your students and children to fun and exciting ways to enjoy their reading is almost always met with great success!

Here is a clip of Collin performing the play with me! Watch it and see what you think of Collin’s progress as a reader.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: The Cut-up Story

Apr 11, 2012 11:51:39 AM

Cutting up a story and having a child reassemble it is a daily part of a Reading Recovery® lesson. I think that this is a powerful teaching tool and I like to use it with any child I work with. Children can learn so much from this activity. The cut-up story provides children with an opportunity to relate reading to writing, writing to speaking and reading to speaking. And although it is not as effective as when you use it with an individual, it can also easily be adapted to use in a small group setting.

Each time that I work with Collin we do some writing. After he writes his story (which is honestly more like a sentence!), I write his ‘story’ on a sentence strip. Then he reads it while I cut it. You can see that here.

After he reads his story, I mix up the words, making sure all the words are turned so that he can easily read them. Next, Collin puts the story back together. You can watch him do that part of the lesson below. Children that are struggling and know only a very small number of words or sounds can still complete this task. It helps teach one-to-one matching, directional behavior, and some early self-monitoring and correcting behavior. I am amazed at how quickly Collin can do this task now!

The cut-up story can also be used to help children learn how to put their words together in phrases. You can put the story together in different ways and ask the child to read it. Since I am working with Collin on becoming more phrased and fluent with his reading, using his cut-up story this way becomes a great opportunity to do more teaching. Watch here and see what you think!

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: Reading eBooks

Mar 28, 2012 12:49:09 PM

Have you tried reading a book on a Kindle or an iPad or other tablet? I have now read several books on my iPad and I have mixed feelings about the experience. My favorite aspect is how easy it is to get books to read for my book group. No trips to the bookstore, waiting for an order to come in the mail, or trying to find it at my local library. I can have a book in about three minutes and can start reading it immediately. I also like that I can read in bed without a light – and therefore not disturb my sleeping husband. I found I don’t even mind how the experience feels – I seem to quickly forget I’m not even holding a book. The only thing I really dislike is that I never know how far along I am in the book. Am I halfway? Am I only a quarter of the way? And what if I want to look back at something? At one point a character popped up in a story and I was confused. I wanted to see if it was the same character that had been briefly mentioned earlier in the book. But it was really not so easy to quickly thumb back.

So what is it like for a child to read a book on a tablet? Pioneer Valley Books has a new ‘app’ called Who Can Read . They have about forty books available and are adding at least one new book each month. I have used the app to have Collin read a couple books on the iPad. I have found it easy to use with him. The app has a function that reads the story to the child, but Collin and I have only used the ‘read it to myself’ function. Collin has the choice to turn the pages by running his finger across the page or using an arrow at the bottom. (You can see the two page-turning options in this video.)

I am a bit disappointed that Collin seems to prefer the arrow. I like how running your finger across the page makes it seem more like a “real book”. Here is a video of Collin reading a Tiny Treasure book, The Lost Ball, Level 5/D. Notice how independently he is reading this book for the first time. He is self-monitoring and correcting any errors very nicely. I also think he is sounding more phrased and fluent, using the punctuation to change his voice. Notice how he reads can you see it and then corrects it to can you see the ball without any prompting from me! See what you think of Collin’s progress as a reader.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: Reading for Fluency

Mar 23, 2012 10:39:21 AM

Collin and I are continuing to read and write together one or two times a week. I hope that as I share our stories with you, you are able to take bits of learning for yourself to use with your own students.

When someone is just learning to read, there is a need to pay attention to many things at once. Trying to orchestrate all the different parts often slows down the reading. But reading in a slow, choppy manner makes it difficult to anticipate what is coming next in the story. That is why it is so important to teach for phrased and fluent reading even at very early text levels. Being fluent doesn’t necessarily mean reading fast. Pace is only a small part of being fluent. Using the appropriate intonation, parsing the sentences in the right places, and knowing how to change the voice based on the punctuation are all equally important.

In my most recent post about Collin, I shared that I was encouraging my student to read without his finger. We are still working on that new skill. I am also asking Collin to make his reading “sound interesting”. This requires interpreting the punctuation. To support teaching for fluency, I like to use books with plenty of dialogue. As you watch the following video clip you will see Collin reading a Jack and Daisy story, The Big Bone. I asked him to notice and use the quotation marks and the bold print in the text and to change his voice appropriately. Watch the video and see how he is doing.

This fluency rubric can help you consider both Collin’s and your own students’ fluency. You can find this and other useful assessment materials in the Pawprints Resource Center.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: The Reading Finger

Mar 21, 2012 10:11:53 AM

Collin and I are continuing to read and write together one or two times a week. I hope that as I share our stories with you, you are able to take bits of learning for yourself to use with your own students.

After students have gained some comfort and experience in reading, I look to help them move toward independent reading. Once a student has firmly established one-to-one matching and has started to develop a core of words they can recognize in print, I begin to ask them to take away the ‘reading finger’. The ‘reading finger’ refers to using a finger to point to each word as a student reads. This helps them attend to the print and keep track of where they are.

As a student stops using the reading finger, I first have them stop using it with familiar text, and then I encourage them drop it when reading new text. Reading without using the reading finger may cause a student to make more errors and they may have some lapses in one-to-one matching. There is no eyeball on the end of the finger to help them along. Beginning readers need to learn to orchestrate looking and saying.

A reading finger most often negatively impacts fluency. Sometimes teachers will see a child make an error and will ask them to read it again using a reading finger. I think that is often a mistake and sends the wrong message. Yes, ask them to read it again – but tell them to check more carefully!

In previous posts, I have shared with you my work with Collin, as he learns to read. In my last few sessions with Collin, I have started asking him to try reading without his reading finger. You will see in this video that he can do it, but he often forgets and needs to be reminded. I feel that reading without using his finger makes him slightly more fluent. I don’t think he needs that finger anymore. Watch this clip and see what you think.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Recently I used the iPad with Collin for his story writing. The biggest challenge with using the iPad for writing is that the screen is smaller than the size of a typical piece of paper. On the other hand, erasing an error is quick and easy, and the play back function allows Collin to hear himself read what he has written. The app I used with Collin is Educreations.

In the video, you will see I use Elkonin boxes to help Collin to hear sounds in words. He has only used boxes once before so he is still learning how to use the boxes. Elkonin boxes are excellent tools to help children to hear sounds within words. For more details about Elkonin boxes, you can view this video of me using Elkonin boxes with a student last year.

In addition to using Elkonin boxes to help Collin hear sounds in words, we’re working on leaving spaces between words and rereading sentences to help think about what comes next. I can see small shifts already. Watch our video of Collin writing his sentence on the iPad and see the progress we are making.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin and I are continuing to read and write together one or two times a week. I hope that as I share our stories with you, you are able to take bits of learning for yourself to use with your own students.

To help Collin increase his reading and writing sight vocabulary, I have set up a tray of the words we are working on.

Collin's Story - Pioneer Valley Books
tray of words

Often after we have finished reading a book or writing a story, I will have Collin locate these words and I will have him ‘make’ the words with magnetic letters.

I also will use the Water Wizard and the Sand Tray with Collin to practice writing the word(s). Writing a word in a variety of modalities and making it with magnetic letters and other tools will help him remember the word and will help to create “islands of certainty” for him when he is reading.

water wizard

Water Wizard

sand tray

Sand Tray

I have also ‘discovered’ a new, exciting tool to use for Collin to write on – the iPad!

water wizard

iPad

I have found two great apps and there are probably plenty more that I will be using with Collin. Here are the ones I’ve found so far: Doodle Buddy and Educreations.

In our most recent lesson, I used these tools with Collin after he read Come Here, Puppy (Level C/3) for a first reading. Click here to see a video of that lesson with Collin.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story: Collin Writes a Book

Mar 5, 2012 11:58:56 AM

In my previous two posts I shared with you a story about Collin, who I will be reading and writing with about two times a week. This week Collin and I read a number of level A and B books. I am pleased with how well Collin is doing with pointing as he reads. I am using lots of praise when he checks the picture and showing him how to confirm by checking the first letter of the word.

One activity Collin enjoyed recently was writing a book with me. Together, we read one of the newest Tiny Treasures from Pioneer Valley Books, Where is Daisy?. After reading this story, Collin and I wrote the book, Where is Nathaniel? Nathaniel is Collin’s brother and his name is a word that Collin knows how to write. We used the language structure Is Nathaniel in here? On each page we made a flap and under the flap placed a sticker. I used the character stickers from Pioneer Valley Books. In a talking bubble we wrote No! At first Collin wrote Is and Nathaniel and I wrote the other words for him. He quickly became willing to write more of the story. We took a photo of his brother, Nathaniel, for the last page and he copied the word yes from the book. Here you can see him reading his book!

Collin is making excellent progress and I look forward to continuing to share his learning with you.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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In my previous post, I shared with you a video of Collin reading a level B book, Bella’s Busy Day. I am going to be doing some reading and writing with Collin a couple times a week. To help me think about how to help Collin make fast progress I used Marie Clay’s Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement.

You can see part of the assessment here – I asked Collin to write all the words he knew how to write.

Collin's Story - Pioneer Valley Books

He has a core of words he can write, but he is not using them to help his reading. Using all the data from the assessment, I have developed some beginning goals for Collin:

1.  Help Collin build a strong core of sight words he can write and read.

2.  Build Collin’s understanding of how to use the pictures and the meaning of the story to search for       information at difficulty.

3.  Teach Collin to use sound boxes to hear sounds in words.

I believe Collin will make quick progress and my preliminary goals will need to expand quickly! Stay tuned . . .

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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Collin’s Story

Feb 22, 2012 10:11:31 AM

Collin is an energetic, engaging boy. He and his mom have been helping me out as I prepare some materials for a new website that Pioneer Valley Books is going to launch soon. At the new website, parents will be able find useful information to help their child learn to read. There will be an easy-to-use assessment for finding their child’s reading level.

Here is a video of Collin reading Bella’s Busy Day. After the book introduction, I read the first page to Collin. I suggest parents do this with beginning readers. It is a supportive way to get an early book started well. Collin has read a few books with me prior to this video being made. I am pleased to see that he is starting to understand how to match his finger to the print. You will see, however, that he is not grasping how the repeated pattern in the story can help him and that he does not have a core of early words he recognizes and uses.

I am going to be working with Collin a couple times a week and I hope you will find it valuable to follow his progress here!

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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