A few weeks ago I wrote about using readers’ statements as a way to focus your teaching, as well as give kids some language to help them as they are learning a strategy or behavior. For the past week and a half, I’ve been using the readers’ statement, “Readers look for words they know.” I start all of our shared reading lessons with this statement, and refer to it throughout my guided reading groups and conferences with kids. We use highlighting tape on our charts and in big books to highlight words we know from our word wall. I want my kids to start noticing all the words they know in the books, charts and online texts we read. I want these words to be “anchors” in the text as they solidify 1:1 matching and begin to self-monitor. We’ve added this statement to other statements we have focused on like, “Readers look at the picture to help them read the words.” and “Readers think about the book.”
I am really amazed at how all my readers, even my most emergent readers, are taking on this readers’ statement. My kids are finding words they know, thinking about the text, and having a reading explosion in our classroom! Today during our literacy stations I saw a group of kids use Wikki Stix to underline known words on a chart and then go back and read the entire chart – helping each other make sure their finger was pointing to the word they were saying. I saw another group of kids reading a book about frogs and talking about the words they knew in the book. I overheard one child say, “I know some of the words, and the pictures can help me read the rest.”
It’s like the floodgates have been opened. Our readers’ statement explicitly told the kids that readers look for words they know. My students all see themselves as readers, so they are doing what readers do – looking for words they know. The excitement is contagious – there are words we know in every book and chart we read! Drawing their attention to the seemingly simple fact that readers look for words they know has raised the level of engagement during our reading time and has all my students reading and hungry for more words to know. It’s an exciting time in kindergarten!