Visual Reading Accuracy
Updated: Mar 9
What is it?
Well, it's the ability to see the word "came" and not mistake it for the word "come." Those two words look the same in many ways. They have the same amount of letters and many of the same letters. If a child is not visually attending to the text, she or he can easily miscue (mistake made while reading). This type of miscue is very common for kids who are still learning to read. Although common, if interventions are not put in place to increase a child's visually reading accuracy, it can become a very bad habit that is extremely hard to break. Children who make these sorts of miscues go on to become guessers. When reading, they tend to look at the first letter, or even the first few letters, and then they guess--often incorrectly--the rest of the word. This ultimately impedes their reading progress.
So....What do these children need?
These students need to strengthen their visual discrimination skills. Visual discrimination is the ability to recognize small differences and similarities visually. These students need practice reading words that look similar to other words in sequence. In the education world, we call this reading similar word pairs. Here are some examples of similar word pairs:
was / saw (same letters with a different order)
here / her (same letters)
pot / pet (same initial and final letter, but a different medial letter)
With repeated practice, students will learn to attend to even the most subtle differences in words when reading which will increase their reading accuracy and overall comprehension.
One way I help my students strengthen their visual accuracy is by playing a visual accuracy game. There's something about calling skill work a "game" that makes kids excited and fired up, especially when you throw in some dice! Using pages from my Visual Reading Accuracy Pack, I simply have student roll one die, and then read the similar word pairs in the row that matches the number from their roll. Students have to really attend to the subtle changes in the words--remembering to track the beginning, middle, and ending sounds--to get every word in that row correct. To make students more fired up, I give them a sticker every time they read an entire row correctly. After just a few sessions playing the game, I am always so surprised by the amount of progress the students make.
But, We Can't Stop There!!!
Every reading skill practiced outside the context of reading must be practiced in context. Reading intervention work must be transferred to actual reading (books in hand) for the intervention to be considered successful.
Here are some ways to make sure that the skills practiced during the game are transferred to a students' independent reading practice:
Be Transparent - Explain the reason the skill is being practiced. It can be as simple as saying, "Hey, I have noticed that sometimes when you read, you make mistakes like ______. Today, I want to help you get better that!" Be sure to say this after giving the student a compliment for something she or he does well.
Make the Connection Daily - Make the connection between the intervention and actual reading as soon as possible. This can be achieved by breaking the intervention session into two parts.
Intervention Session Format
10 minutes - Intervention Activity
10 minutes - Independent Reading
Make it a Goal - At the end of each intervention session, remind students that the skill practiced is their personal reading goal. Sometimes students need a reminder of what they should be working on while reading independently. I like to write the goal on a post-it for them and stick it to the front of their reading notebooks.
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