Reading Fun with Dick and Jane

School starts this week and I’ve been fondly remembering Dick and Jane. My first memory of reading on my own is “Run, Spot. Run.” What a thrill to realize that the letters on the page could be turned into words and ideas! Yet, I don’t recall being “taught” to read. I don’t remember learning the sounds of the letters or the rhythm of syllables strung together. The Dick and Jane stories, it turns out were brilliant primers. By the time you’ve seen Dick, Jane and Sally, and you’ve implored Spot and Puff to run, you’ve learned the following:

  • a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y
  • Long a with a silent e
  • Short vowel sound precedes a double consonant
  • The importance of verbs…
  • …and punctuation

Our Classroom Coaching programs will start again soon, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how you teach children to read. It turns out that there are a few fundamental strategies that facilitate fluency and comprehension at all grade levels. These are the practices that will build stronger readers:

  • Pre-teach vocabulary
  • Read aloud to model fluency
  • Help students visualize the story
  • Do frequent comprehension checks
  • Help students predict what will come next

Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore each of these approaches in more detail. We’ll talk about why it’s important and how to do it. And I’ll share some of my learnings from coaching two sixth graders last year.