Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't laugh... major breakthrough

I was helping my 2nd grader read her decodeable books this evening and all of the sudden I noticed the helping e rule of thumb for whether a vowel is going to be long or short, except for "v" words. (i.e. the "i" in hide is long and the "i" in hid is short, long "a" in made, short "a" in mad. I don't know if there is an official name for it)

I told my daugher the rule, then practiced it for a bit, and it was amazing how quickly her reading improved in a matter of minutes.

Instead of guessing long or short vowel sounds, now she can figure it out most of the time. I swear her reading speed improved by 50% within half an hour.

I am an extremely fluent reader, and this simple rule of thumb never occurred to me consciously until tonight. I had somehow internalized the rule without being aware of it. What I can't figure out is why her 1st grade teacher never pointed it out to her. Perhaps she would be reading on grade level.

I also pointed out that "v" words are weird and don't always follow this rule. i.e. "ive" words can be short or long, and ave words are almost always short.

Teaching kids how to read is hard. You would think someone would come up with a systematic way to teach all the phonetic sounds and letter combinations, instead of relying on a parent to stumble on them by accident.