Monday, August 10, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 3 Reflection

Hello, again and welcome back! Today I will be sharing my reflection of Goal 3: Supporting Print Work in The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. Check out my Goal 1 or Goal 2 reflections, if you missed them! 

I have to say up front that Goal 3 was by far my favorite so far! As I was reading, I couldn't help but find myself nodding along to everything and marking/taking notes on nearly everything. I just really connected with this goal. In discussing why this goal is important, Serravallo days "In order to construct meaning from a text, children need to read words correctly, integrating three sources of information: meaning, syntax, and visual." (Page 76). Maybe it was all the running records that I had to do in college, or maybe the fact that I actually really loved doing them, but with this as the opening sentence to the goal- I was jumping up and down with joy. This is the meat an potatoes of reading that I love. Yes, I'm weird. I LOVE running records. I just know how valuable they are and the results are easy to discuss with older (some younger but there's a limit) students and they are just plain often. If I had a dollar for every MSV I coded, I'd be able to buy everyone reading this their own Serravallo book...and more! 

As if that wasn't enough, Serravallo goes on to state a fact which is probably my most favorite line of the book so far. She says, "Sometimes, as children are learning to read, they overemphasize on one or two of the sources of information or use each inconsistently. This affects their accuracy rate and often ultimately limits their comprehension of the text." (Page 76). AHH I LOVE THIS! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We cannot think that reading is a one pronged activity. All three (meaning (or semantics), syntax, and visual) prongs are totally necessary for reading. But here's what I believe happens- I think that students start their early reading by relying on just one or two of these, and especially if they are struggling readers, the glob onto these 1 or 2 prongs and ultimately leave out the other 1 or 2. Now they are missing an entire aspect of reading and it's detrimental for their long term success. I've definitely seen this happen in my years working with older students and therefore I am always looking for this in younger readers now. 

She goes on to talking about Running Records (Clay) which I practically lived and breathed during my last two years of college (Thanks, Illinois State University!), and other forms of assessment that can be used to find and code these errors that students are making as they read. But Serravallo says, "Regardless of what you use, it's important to look at the assessment given and analyze the pattern of errors and self-corrections to learn about which of the three sources of information the student uses sometimes, consistently, or not at all." (Page 78). Maybe this is why I am so crazy about data and the meticulous keeping of said data. It quite simply holds all the answers. We can learn SO much from just looking and coding student running records and we have that data coming out our ears with all the in class, in group, and assessment reading that we do. I don't think I can physically empathize how important I believe the quality use of data is to excellent reading instruction. It's just so powerful and I'm glad this goal really supports that belief. 

Now onto my three focus strategies from this goal.  I selected 3.1: Check the Picture for Help, 3.6: Try, Try, Try Again, and 3.10: Juggling All Three Balls. As you read above, I obviously love this goal and it was (as always) hard to select just three, but I did, and you will see below just how much I love each and every one of them!

The first strategy I selected, 3.1: Check the Picture for Help, is a nice, basic strategy for our early readers. It's a great strategy for specifically levels A-C- but I love that Serravallo gives a warning for readers as they get above Level C. I've always said that you can't replace reading. Just breezing through a book by looking at the pictures is not reading. Is it a valuable step to learning to read: ABSOLUTELY! It is a skill that students should learn and do: ABSOLUTELY. But at some point, nothing is going to replace the real reading. You can imagine my sheer joy then when I read, "For children reading at Level C and beyond, however, this is an important strategy to balance with explicit strategies to decode the print such as 3.17 and 3.18 in this chapter (Stahl and Miller 1989)." (Page 80).  YES!!! I love that Serravallo explains that this strategy of looking at pictures is important, but acknowledges that as readers get older, they will just need more. 

One quick note about the visual for 3.1 I have to say that for ELL's, this is not always helpful as they might not know the word or the picture- so this strategy might not always be the best to choose for newcomers or struggling ELL's- I'd probably be sure to have a hand in the book selection if your goal is to support ELL's with pictures. Patterned text might be a better place to start with those readers.

Next up is 3.6: Try, Try, Try Again, and I'm going to put the visual up right away here because that's mostly what I love about the strategy! 

 When working with struggling readers, I sometimes use popsicle sticks with a picture clue on the end to trigger a thought in my reader. For example, and much like the visual, an ear would be on the end of the stick. This was meant to trigger them to think, does that sound right? I had a bunch of different cues and I could use them in varying levels of support with my students. Eventually my goal was that I did not need to hold up or push a stick to them to get them to notice that they made an error- rather they knew it themselves and were able to self-correct based on a suggestion that I would've made. This was a great way to teach independence while reading but also being there for support in the early stages. That being said, this visual as an anchor chart in the classroom would be spectacular!

Last up for this goal is 3.10: Juggle All Three Balls. As you probably have figured out, I just simply love any strategy that incorporates all three (MSV) into it. I just feel that it is so important that we never lose sight of the fact that all three components (or prongs, as I referred to them above) belong in our reading instruction. 

I also love that the visual is so plain and simple to read. The message is conveyed perfectly and would be easy for any level of students to understand. This is simply a clear and concise strategy for all readers to learn and use regularly.

That's it for today! Be sure to check back on Wednesday 8/12 for the next reflection on Goal 4: Teaching Fluency! I hope to see you soon!


  1. Great summary of the chapter and highlighting of a few important goals! I am envisioning my bulletin board covered with many of the great anchor chart examples included in this book. Wouldn't it be helpful too if we made small copies of each chart for the students to keep in a binder or folder? They could even bring these home to share with the families, which would encourage discussion around the strategies we use in class.

  2. Those are great ideas! Since I teach in a 1:1 district and am all about being paperless- I would definitely link those charts and visuals to my homepage or have them saved on the students' iPad's or MacBooks. This way if they have a book in their hand, they could have their iPad near them and scrolling through the resources as need be.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  3. I have so enjoyed reading your reflections of Jennifer's book. Have you ever thought about adding the option of allowing people to pin your posts to Pinterest? I would love to pin some of them to share later with the teachers at my school. Thanks! I am a reading specialist (K-6) in South Dakota.

  4. Me again... Is there a way to follow your blog such as Bloglovin' or by email?

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for the comments! I just got the Pinterest Hover Button added to the blog- yay for YouTube! I'm not positive about the blog following- but I will get back to you on that after I talk to some more skilled bloggers than me! Thanks for reading! Next post will be Monday 8/17!

    2. Ok- I finally added a bloglovin' follow me link on the upper right side of the blog- above the little pinterest, TpT, etc. banners! Let me know if you need anything else!