Making the Most of Using Emergent Readers

Hello, Friends! It's Ashley and Brooklynn, authors of the blog, Markers and Mascara

We are so very excited to be back and have the opportunity to talk about one of our most favorite things we use in our classrooms: Emergent Readers!

We have had several questions about how we use emergent readers in our classrooms. 

To start, our students have “Reading Briefcases” to use to hold their readers. Each week, our students are expected to learn 1-2 new sight words. We “use” an emergent reader to help build their knowledge and reading of these words. Our students LOVE getting a new reader on Mondays.

The words to be learned are often in a traceable font to help distinguish them from the other words. *If they are not traceable, we have the students distinguish them in some way (highlight, trace with a marker, etc.). 

One of the first things our students do is “graze” through the book to look for words they don’t know or are not familiar. They look to find this week’s words, as well. If they come to a word they do not know, they underline it. This gives us lots of information: are there too many words they don’t know? Are they unfamiliar with words we’ve already covered? Were they not able to use context/picture clues to help them figure out the word?

Next, the teacher reads through the story, as the students track along. There are times when we have the students echo what we read. 
Because we teach in a Title 1 school with several ELL students, we often discuss the vocabulary of the texts; as well as, the phonetic aspects of “major” words. This is also the time when we talk our way through the book and help one another figure out those words we were unsure of. After that, we give the students opportunities (individually) to read through the reader. We have used phonics phones, echoing microphones, whisper voices, etc. By doing this, we are given the chance to listen to specific students, watch for struggling parts of the story, watch the students’ thoughts about tricky parts, etc. Our favorite is to watch them when they come to something they are unsure of and see how they figure out what they do not know. 

Our students are expected to use resources for a myriad of things...we seldom ever give an answer to a question they can figure out on their own. The same holds true when learning to read. If they “forget” a previous word, they must look back to our sight word resource to find the word (the resource has a picture clue to help "jog" their memory). If they forget a letter’s sound, they must look to the phonics cards for help. At times, they can even ask a group member.

At the very end of a small group session, students may choose to read the book to their peers. We love celebrating when our group members successfully read the book aloud. Sometimes we will choral read the reader together, partner read.  At times, we have been know to read in silly voices or funny accents. 

We hope this gives you some insight as to how we use emergent readers in our small group sessions. There is so much that occurs in small groups. We’d LOVE to hear from you with how you use readers, or even other ideas for them. We’d also love to hear any other things you do during small group.

As we start the 2016 year, we wish you all a very happy, healthy, and successful rest of the school year. May your weekdays be short and your weekends be extra long! ;0) 

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