Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Connection Between Reading and Writing

I was asked the other day by a new teacher if reading should be taught before writing.  I answered swiftly with a "No!"   I told her reading and writing were interdependent.  A child's literacy development depends on both.  Reading practice helps develop writing skills the same way writing helps develop reading.

Take for example a grade 5 student exploring the Biography genre.  If  a student is expected to write a Biography report, he or she will look to certain texts features of a Biography.  This includes opening sentences, closing sentences, pertinent information and text structure.  She asked how was this example going to help her with her emergent readers and writers.  I went on to explain that the same is true for a younger student beginning to develop phonemic awareness (the knowledge that words develop from sound chunks).  Children develop these as they read and write the sound chunks associated with words.

Both phonemic awareness and phonics are the two building blocks of reading. Without understanding the connection between letters and sounds of those letters, a students won't be able to read.  Learning to sound out words when reading is key.  I often use pointers to help students sound out words.  My all time favourite is the "witch finger" from the dollar store.  With groups of ten in a package, you really can't go wrong.  Do keep in mind that some students cultures don't allow for the "witch" finger.  I often have a tiny dowel with a small button or peel and stick wooden decal on it.  I have even seen popsicle sticks with wiggly eyes glued to the end.  Students learn directionality and their sounds rather quickly.

Once a sound is mastered, writing practice can take place.  I have used small chalkboards to encourage writing practice.  For example, if we are exploring the "s" sound, students will place three lines on the chalkboard.  I will then take out a flashcard and say the word. Here's a sample of a flashcard.

Here's the structure used for developing writing practice:

 Using this method, students listen for the sound then write it.  This is how the reading and writing connection work together.

Once students are comfortable with the sound, they can then move onto literacy stations where the sounds are reinforced.  I have created some "read" the room activities that explore these concepts.  Here's an example of one of the activities:

Students can cut and paste the picture and determine where the "s" sound is.  Or they can "read the room" looking for their flashcards: 

The first word is "baseball".  The student looks for the flashcard corresponding to # 1.  On the recording sheet, he or she copies the word baseball and then places and "x" where the sound is heard (beginning, middle or end).  

I have created 20 consonant sound cards with 8 per letter sound and short and long vowel sound cards for this purpose.  

These are also available individually.  Just click on each picture and you will see the links to those.

Here's a free download for you to use as a literacy station: 

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