Breaking the guessing habit

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Kelly
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Post by Kelly » Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:49 am

Wonderful post Susan and food for thought. :smile:

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:17 pm

Susan - very, very important food for thought. You've definitely got me thinking.

Off the top of my head, I have one proviso. I am definitely going to be far more mindful of not tripping out the 'don't guess' expression. It sounds negative and I agree through my own (adult) experience that one can react or behave impulsively to do something even when mindful that one doesn't want to do/say whatever it is. Sometimes, the harder one tries NOT to say or do something, the more likely it is that you say or do it.

(I hope you could follow what I meant there.)

I do think it sounds negative in every which way to keep saying 'don't' do something. This does go against our teacher-training in any event where we are trained to reinforce the positive and to ignore or downplay the negative.

The proviso is, may I suggest, that this determination to refrain from saying 'don't guess' is in the context that the reader fully understands that we are aiming for him/her to decode the words (which is why we are teaching the Alphabetic Code and the skill of blending) rather than to guess the words from 'whatever' cues. The desired reading behaviour needs to be clearly understood in the first place and then we can modify how we react when any reader resorts to over-guessing.

Susan - your posting has REALLY given me food for thought. I would like all of us who are actively teaching/tutoring in the process of reading to start being very mindful of what we say to readers either deliberately or inadvertently - even just become more conscious of our own teaching/tutoring habits.

In fact, I think this is so important an idea that we need to bring up this conversation with others involved with teaching reading.

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maizie
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Post by maizie » Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:08 am

It would be interesting to do an experiment where the teacher says "decode the word" instead of "don't guess"
Ha! That's what I do say, frances! (or words to that effect...) I also ask them to "show me where it says 'xxxx' " when they have 'read' a word that isn't in the text at all. It does pay off to a certain extent as they are getting better at carefully sounding words out, for me, but I think that, unless it is backed up right across the curriculum, they default to guessing when I'm not around! :evil:

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Post by Judy » Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:13 am

Me too, Maizie!

I'm very careful not to be negative - I've even had to 'train' a mother not to keep saying 'No!' to her little boy who was already lacking confidence after 'doing RR'!

ElizabethB
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Nonsense Words, Limit outside reading

Post by ElizabethB » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:50 pm

My first few remedial students just about drove me crazy with their wild guessing!

I eventually hit upon nonsense words as a method of breaking the habit. Here is a nice webpage for making nonsense words: http://call.canil.ca/english/engnb1.html

I like to also make longer words using simple syllable division rules.

Finally, I found limiting outside reading during tutoring was most effective. I work my students quickly through all the phonics and syllabification rules they need to be able to read anything using only words out of context, no sentences or stories during this time.

Then, I'll have them read a bit from a regular book a bit above their level to find weaknesses and correct them with a lesson on those areas of weakness. I have a whole shelf full of books, using a variety of good phonics methods is helpful to keep me from going crazy teaching basically the same thing over and over--at least it's in a slightly different format every time.

I try to get them up to speed quickly and limit their reading if they're adults or have their parents read their homework to them for a few weeks until they've broken their guessing habit.

For older children, I like Christman's Rx for Reading: Teach them phonics, although I find his wife's stories silly and skip them.

For adults, I like "We All Can Read," it uses a lot of nonsense words. It is linked from the NRRF.

My free online phonics lessons and spelling lessons also use nonsense words. They include teaching using books from the Bible.

I also have a phonics concentration game that I break out at the end of the lesson when students (especially my younger students) get a bit tired and need a break. It makes both real and nonsense words to keep them on their toes.

I also have a nonsense word test correlated to my lessons.

I can provide links if people are interested.

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Potter's Secret of Reading

Post by Don Potter » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:16 pm

I know all about the guessing. All my tutoring students are "good" at it, which is why they are "bad" at reading and spelling. I was teaching a kindergarten class several years ago. I wrote "tall" on the board for the students to sound out. They all exclaimed, "Tell." I stopped the class dramatically exclaimed, "Something is the matter!" They thought something terrible had happened. I then wrote "tall" on the board and asked them what the difference was between the two words. They immediately noticed the vowel. I then drew a configurational box around the words to show that the had the exact same shape. That is when I came up with my Mr. Potter's Secret of Reading: "Look at all the letters the right way." Rudolf Flesch used to tell Johnny to stop guessing - however many times it took to break him of the guessing habit. I like my positive, "Look at all the letters the right way." It works like a charm. And my Blend Phonics Reader is the perfect (and free) program for teaching them to "look at all the letters the right way." http://www.donpotter.net/Blend%20Phonics.htm

Don Potter
Odessa, TX USA
http://www.donpotter.net

Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:28 pm

Hi Elizabeth

Thank you for the references to your website - lots of interesting and helpful stuff to read there! I'm sure some more links would be much appreciated.
Finally, I found limiting outside reading during tutoring was most effective.
I'm sure this is true, but how do you go about it? My pupils have one lesson a week with me and the rest of the time they are reading to themselves, in school, in bed and so on - with frustrating results as far as my teaching is concerned! :sad:

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Post by ElizabethB » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:10 am

Judy wrote:Hi Elizabeth

Thank you for the references to your website - lots of interesting and helpful stuff to read there! I'm sure some more links would be much appreciated.
Finally, I found limiting outside reading during tutoring was most effective.
I'm sure this is true, but how do you go about it? My pupils have one lesson a week with me and the rest of the time they are reading to themselves, in school, in bed and so on - with frustrating results as far as my teaching is concerned! :sad:
First, I'll answer the how I go about limiting outside reading--I try to teach them at least twice a week, and get their parents to read their homework to them, and not allow them to read any books. I generally get through all the phonics basics within 6 - 12 hours depending on how many repetitions are required for the particular student. I then later repeat any sounds or concepts they're having trouble with. If you have them twice a week, you can get them to this point in a reasonable time for a parent to agree to read to their child once they understand how it will make their child's progress faster. I like to explain the problem to the parents in sports terms, here's a link comparing whole word to throwing like a girl:

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Phon ... ootba.html

Tell them about this (American) football analogy and explain how outside reading reinforces their throwing like a girl training and increases the time it will take to learn to throw (read) well. If they understand that it's only for a short period of time and will be helpful in the long run, both they and their parents are generally happy to limit outside reading. With my adult students, I have them try to have friends or family read for them if they can and limit reading to absolutely essential documents.

Here are what I think people here will find most helpful on my website:

My concentration phonics game, which produces both real and nonsense words (helpful for reducing guessing, also good at the end of tutoring when the begin to get fatigued, a game perks them right up.)
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Phon ... ongam.html

letter-to-sound and sound-to-letter charts, with percentages, based on the most common 17,000 words in the (American) 1965 Hanna Study
http://www.thephonicspage.org/Phonics%2 ... undch.html

Why Johnny Doesn't Like to Read:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Read ... erate.html

My thoughts on dyslexia:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Read ... lexia.html

Some diagnostic reading tests:
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Read ... eleve.html

And Webster's Speller and how to teach it (synthetic, explicit syllables taught with synthetic phonics and spelling)
http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Read ... rsway.html

ElizabethB
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Post by ElizabethB » Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:09 am

More thoughts on reducing guessing:

Try all uppercase or teach them cursive and use all cursive. Uppercase breaks up the form that some students use for guessing, and cursive, while it retains some of the same form, is slightly different and emphasizes left to right direction of writing and sounding out the word. Plus, they'll be so busy figuring out the letters, they'll have trouble seeing the whole word!

And, another idea that Don Potter says works for him to convince parents about two types of reading--give the student the MWIA (available on Don Potter's web page, www.donpotter.net/ed.htm) without first explaining the theory behind it. The parents watch as the student makes many more errors on the holistic portion than the phonetic portion and reads the phonetic portion slower. Then, he asks the student which list was harder. (I've only recently understood the power of the MWIA, so have not had the opportunity to try this out yet personally.)

You could also give the parents a list of alphabetical 220 Dolch sight words and have them calculate the percentage of Dolch sight words in a typical paragraph of their children's reading material. (Or, 100 words, that would be easier math if they don't want to break out a calculator.) Then explain to them that repeated exposure to these same words that they have learned to read without sounding them out will cause them to revert to guessing habits.

JIM CURRAN
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Subject

Post by JIM CURRAN » Tue May 13, 2008 10:14 am

This has been a very interesting thread. As someone who works with older weak readers I would agree that guessing for most of these children is a deeply ingrained reflex and that those who suffer the most are those who have been encouraged to read a wide range of books from the earliest stage.

I think that daily repetition over a period of time is part of the answer.
Dr. Joseph Torgesen ( Florida State University ) “ Dyslexia and other things that make it difficult to learn to read proficiently” points to research by Simos et al, ( Neurology, 2002 ) Neural Responses to Intervention:

Does the pattern of brain activation change in response to intervention ?

8 children with severe dyslexia ( 7 – 17 )

8 weeks intense phonologically – based intervention ( 2 hours a day = up to 80 hours of instruction )

Very large improvements in reading ability

There are some excellent MRI before and after intervention scans.


However if learning to read is a complex process , not learning to read is even more complex and damaging. M any children who don’t learn become psychologically so traumatized that they develop a type of post traumatic stress disorder that makes intervention extremely complex. It’s well worth reading Professor Donald Nathanson’s Children Of The Code interview with David Boulton.

http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interv ... hanson.htm

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