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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of March 3rd

posted Mar 4, 2019, 4:58 PM by Courtney Richardson
What prompt should I use? 
I recently received an email from a teacher asking how she should prompt a child who read the word January for June. The student was reading at text level F. She wondered if she should say, "What would make sense?" "Find a part you know," or "Look at the word." When selecting a prompt you first need to ask, What does the error tell you about the reader’s processing? In this “January for June” example, there are signs of good processing: The student used beginning letters and realized it was the name of a month. There were clues in the picture that indicated it was a hot day. Of course, there are places in the US where it may be hot in January, but for the most part, the warmer months are in the summer. The next question you should ask is, Does this miscue provide an opportunity to teach the student something about strategic processing? Here are some prompts you could consider. I’ve listed them from low to high level of support.
- Are you right? What do you think?
- Would January make sense? Think about the story. 
- You are right this is a month, and now think...does this word (June) look like January?
- Check this word (June). Is it January or June? How do you know?
Where should you begin on this scale of help?  In most cases, I would start with a low support prompt and move to higher support if necessary. Remember your goal is to teach better processing not accurate reading. Marie Clay said, "Usually the gain is not that the child gets a particular word right, but he has strengthened the range of ways of solving new words he will use in the future."
When prompting during reading, always ask yourself, “Am I teaching the child a word, or a way of solving words?”