Word guessers

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Oct 14, 2019

    Many of my low level readers are guessers this year. They seem to look at the first letter and not care what the rest of the letters are. Are there any specific strategies that help with this? Even when I have them reread, or ask them questions such as "does that make sense?" they are going back and rereading with the same mistakes and not looking at the words carefully. They also are not realizing they have no idea what they just read.

    We've done chunking and broken words into syllables and they can do that in isolation but it does not seem to carry into their reading fluency when reading a paragraph. Any suggestions?
     
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  3. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Do you use a systematic phonics program?
     
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  4. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    No, not really. We have an online reading program that I can stick them on that's supposed to target the areas that they need help in but our school does not have a specific phonics program. Also, honestly, it hasn't been super needed before. I have had plenty of students who struggle with fluency and read very slowly but I don't think I've ever had this many guessers before. Normally they can sound out words, but this group seems to be missing that.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    A few weeks ago I posted an article about how the Three Cueing Method really is horrible for students. Seems you have some wonderfully trained children who were "taught to read" using this method.

    This is a hard, hard habit to break especially since those they trusted to teach them correctly taught them the worst possible way to learn to read.

    Then only thing you can do is go back to the beginnings of reading and start with phonemic awareness, blending, and phonics. Make sure they have those skills. Make sure they know that they don't make sense when they guess words and that you know they are just doing what they were taught to do. Don't blame them. But make sure you do a lot of individual word work and then into simple sentences making them apply the sounding out strategies rather than the Three Cueing Strategies of look at the fist letter, use context cues, use pictures, etc. It doesn't work for those who don't pick up the code of our language.
     
  6. otterpop

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    Thanks. I've never heard of this three cueing strategy but I find quite a list of articles debunking it. Not sure how these current students learned to read, but I did student teaching with a teacher who taught this way and I felt that it was missing some components for sure.
     
  7. Mami1Maestra2

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    Fountas and Pinnell systems are cuing systems. Students learn many sight words, but can't decode, which leads to disfluent readers later.

    I second the systematic and explicit phonics instruction.
     
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  8. a2z

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    Oct 17, 2019

    This was common practice for a few decades. These strategies fall under the terms Whole Language and even Balanced Literacy. The Balanced Literacy program in my local district was balanced because they taught letter sounds. They never taught phonics beyond that.

    Talk to some younger grade teachers if they are still at the school about reading strategies. Slyly mention different approaches and see which ones light them up. They will gladly tell you about the ones that they use and like.
     
  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I agree with the above. Phonics is essential and lack of phonics instruction could lead to first letter guessing. I noticed another clue in your post. The students are able to decode individual words, but when reading sentences, they don't notice the context of the sentence and guess a word that connects from somewhere else, probably a word that's lurking somewhere in their brain and connects with that first letter.

    Ultimately, to some extent, all visual tasks involve some guessing since eyes are incapable of interpreting light as sight. Two areas of the brain interpret the light and bounce information back and forth with each other to match the light with context of the situation. In reading, that context begins primarily with the letter combinations on the page, but the context also connects with other contextual clues, mostly what makes sense within the context of the story. Mature readers incorporate various contextual clues, primarily the letters, but also what fits the meaning of the sentence, and also what fits with past experience. That's why mature readers now and then will misread a word, but of course, will immediately realize that doesn't make sense, and will recheck the word for phonic information, sight word information, or other visual information about the individual word.

    Not to negate the possibility of faulty past instruction, I'm curious if much of the fault lies in a lack of previous languaging experience, languaging in multiple areas, too. A baby's first experience with reading comes from hearing language, and processing the auditory stimulation with other senses and kinesthetic experiences. This, increasingly, is not occurring. For example, a parent texting is not talking. The only auditory stimulation, if any, is a click-click-click. TV has been demonstrated to not supply enough auditory stimulation; it is not the same to hear the movie the parents are viewing rather than hear parents saying, "Oh, you're so cute...etc., etc." Books are increasingly not being read to children, not only at home but in school, where class time is structured to include so many other activities that read aloud time is neglected or minimized. Kids are increasingly exposed to video games, especially on cell phones, now even while walking with their parents through the market. Yeah, it keeps their hands off the cereal boxes, but tons of possible linguistic interaction is now nonexistent.

    Oh, no. Here I go again. I've been concerned that my posts are becoming repetitive. But I fear that lack of linguistic stimulation is destroying the potential learning of so many students.

    So if I might continue, there is a connection between mathematics thinking and reading, which is also being demonstrated by these students. The spacing and shapes of all the letters are not coming into play. Why? Students are lacking real life visual spatial experiences. They aren't outside playing! I realize a safety factor is in play here, but it's still a very real factor.

    My recommendation is to attempt to make up for their lack of linguistic experience. Again, I agree with the above, a necessary addition to what is already occurring. I'd also include read alouds. I'd write down student dictated stories and practice reading them, also analyzing them for phonemes, syllables, etc. Actually, since the students are demonstrating some ability in analysis, I also double up on synthesis experiences. Perhaps the old fashioned method of drawing boxes around each word might subtly supply an extra umph in realizing there's more to the words than first letters. Word cards, mixed up, then the students rearrange them can be helpful, especially when more than one sentence are possible. Something I especially find helpful, I put the lyrics to a song on the board, and after singing, the students have a treasure hunt to encircle a particular phonics clue. I'd also arrange for times when the students can just sit and talk about the story. Basically, my thinking is to build upon all areas of languaging within the context of the story/lesson so that the students' brains build up a reservoir of neuron experiences to utilize. A final suggestion, too, would to increasingly play Book Whisperer; just as the Leprechaun can get kids to eat oats for breakfast, the more we advertise and enthuse kids about reading, the better.
     
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  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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  11. Tired Teacher

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    I remember when Whole Language came out in the 90's. Most of us shut our doors and continued to teach phonics and sight words. As long as your kids scored OK, you had no hassles. I have only followed a manual 1x in my life ( for a short period of time w/ a scripted program.) I did not like it ,tweaked their program, added my stuff, and it finally went away.
     
  12. a2z

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    Oct 19, 2019

  13. a2z

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    Who was their previous teacher (new or had a great new idea) and was there a big change in reading programs at any point in their previous grades?
     
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  14. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    No change in reading programs, but teachers in the lower grades don’t follow the curriculum as closely as they could and there have been a lot of changes in staffing... so there’s no real guarantee of what or how students have learned in previous years.
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2019

    Also, I’ll send you a quick PM!
     
  16. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    This thread has me realizing that I'm not sure I know how to teach reading effectively. My district (and my undergrad classes) uses F&P, which is definitely not phonics-based. Even the F&P "phonics" curriculum is not actual phonics; it's word parts and families with lots of sight words and high frequency words. We don't get to long vowels, second alphabet, or R-controlled vowels at all unless we teach them ourselves ahead of the curriculum.

    My co-teacher usually teaches phonics; she uses sequential phonics for that, but I definitely rely pretty heavily on three-cueing system language to prompt students and I have never even thought about whether that's effective or not.
     
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  17. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    This is a conversation that my district is having right now. My personal belief is that teaching systematic, explicit, and sequential phonics is absolutely necessary for the majority of students. This isn't so much because they need it to read - the three-cueing system is adequate for many students when it comes to reading. However, when taking spelling into consideration, the majority of students need to learn phonics in order to write fluently and spell correctly.

    Just the order day, a very highly regarded teacher with decades of experience made a comment during lunch that students need to know vowel teams in order to read the end of year benchmark level text. Her point was that waiting to teach these vowel teams in a systematic way would be waiting too late. The way I see it is that we don't need to teach those vowel teams explicitly by the end of the year. Yes, they need to know them, but it can wait to be taught explicitly in the next grade. We aren't expecting them to spell those words correctly yet, only read them.

    I guess that way I see it is that both the both the three-cueing system AND systematic, explicit phonics must be taught to ensure good reading skills and habits. One without the other will leave something necessary out. I also think that too many educators only think of phonics as a reading skill, whereas, in my opinion, it is much more important as a writing/spelling skill. Literacy is connected in that way, and the emphasis on reading often leads to us forgetting about the other end of the continuum, which is writing.
     
  18. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    How is guessing based on the first letter ever a good habit? Why would a student who can decode fluently have to guess at the pronunciation of a word? They may not know the meaning, but they should get rather close to the appropriate pronunciation.
     
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  19. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I don't think that guessing at words is ever a good idea.

    But I do think that using context clues, thinking about meaning in order to read with expression and comprehend text, and noticing the letters in words (and decoding them) are all important. I think that, instead of guessing at words, readers should take that visual cue of looking at all of the letters and decoding them while also thinking about what makes sense within the context.

    To be clear, I lean way further on the side of systematic, explicit phonics than three-cueing... WAY FURTHER. I'm pushing very heavily for it in my own district right now. But I do see the value of three-cueing when it can support making meaning from text and developing good reading habits.
     
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  20. Tired Teacher

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    In the past, I have gotten classes who did not know a long/short vowel sound for many years. They had very limited skills in phonics. It not only hurts their reading, it impacts their spelling. I found a trick around it that helped for years.
    I used a leveled phonics system ,not authorized by the district, ( lol) to teach spelling rules. For example, they need to know the difference between long and short vowels to know when to double consonants before adding from a group of suffixes.
    I used it for spelling patterns daily even though we haven't given tests in many years. I spent time using blends,diphthongs, diagraphs, and sounds from the list like tion, sion, cean, and tian (shun). If you do it daily, you can get through 3 levels and the kids really take off in reading. They don't know controlled R either until I get my hands on them...haha! :) It'd be so much better if they started off learning them instead of learning to guess. This is a good example of , "Why fix it if it ain't broke?" :) Oh, I do think teaching words in context is a good idea too. It is just a small part of reading though.
     
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  21. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I'm just going to throw this information out there for anyone who may feel they want to know more about teaching phonics. When working on my master's in ESL, I found PBS Teacherline courses to help use phonics to improve literacy and understanding. The cost is reasonable, you can pay a relatively small fee to certain universities to receive actual graduate credit, most of these are worth 3 credits/course, and they are online, but very interactive with your "cohort" within the class. Six to eight weeks long, and I took mine while teaching full time. Below see course descriptions:
    RDLA152 An Introduction to Underlying Principles and Research for Effective Literacy Instruction [​IMG]
    Subjects:
    Reading/Language Arts Grades: Preschool-8th Hours: 45.0
    Get insight into the psychology behind reading instruction and reading comprehension. Cover the what, why, and how behind teaching reading effectively in grades K-8.

    Details...
    RDLA257 Phonemic Awareness & Phonics: A Window Into Exemplary Instruction
    Subjects: Reading/Language Arts
    Grades: Kindergarten-3rd
    Hours: 45.0
    Prepare K-3 students for long-term academic success with instructional techniques and assessment strategies for developing phonemic awareness and phonics skills.

    Details...
    RDLA267 Teaching Phonics & Spelling for Beginning and Transitional Readers, 2nd Edition
    Subjects: Reading/Language Arts Grades: Kindergarten-3rd Hours: 45.0
    Explore the critical connection between phonics and spelling, and how to combine the two to strengthen students’ oral fluency and improve literacy and language development.

    Details...
    RDLA272 Vocabulary as a Foundation for Learning [​IMG]
    Subjects: Reading/Language Arts
    Grades: Kindergarten-3rd
    Hours: 45.0
    Learn the skills and strategies for effectively building students’ vocabulary in grades K-3 to establish strong foundations for learning.

    Details...

    I have used what I learned here in readers who struggle, regardless of "grade".

    I took my courses through this link. They sometimes have specials that bring the prices down even a bit lower:
    https://www.scetv.org/professional-development
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I agree context is important for comprehension but it really should be secondary to being able to decode the word in the first place. Context should be about meaning, not reading the words.
     
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  23. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    It infuriates me that the ESL students end up knowing how to read and know grammar better than the English as a first language students. Our district gives quality instruction to ESL students but expects that somehow the non-ESL students will just pick it up along the way. Then if the parents don't have the skills to teach their kids phonics and grammar, they are looked down upon.
     
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  24. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I take great pride in being able to use phonics to teach students how to read well. Unfortunately, when I get a HS student who can't read (and isn't ESL), I know I can help, but they (the student) have been unsuccessful for so many years that they are shut down and defensive. They see going back to basics that they never got as insulting, so they refuse. I often shake my head because I'm told to teach them where they are at, but sometimes that is K-2, at best. Hard for me to hear, even harder to do.
     
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  25. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Completely agree! I've taken some of those courses and others through PBS Teacherline, and I've found them much more valuable than any school-based PD or university level course that I've ever participated in. Highly recommend them! They aren't easy, but they are worth it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  26. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Sure, but I think it's an important part of literacy instruction regardless, and I see the value of it being taught in elementary classrooms, along with phonics.
     
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  27. a2z

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    I just don't believe context should ever be used to figure out what the word is. I think if taught it should be taught to help figure out what the word means if someone won't be using the dictionary to get the meaning of the word. It is also important if the word has several meanings. Context in that case is very important to determining what meaning is the correct one. However, to use contact to figure out if a word is dog or cat is just plain wrong.
     
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  28. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I've encountered high schools students who can't read above an early elementary level who think they can read. They get good grades so they are insulted if you say they need help. It is astonishing that they really have no idea how far behind they are. My district has classes that are geared to get kids to pass without them having to really be able to read. Juniors who never independently read a novel get As and Bs in English classes. Imagine what fraudulent activities have gone on in classrooms for a decade at that point.
     
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  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think we're on same page here... I'm not suggesting that context be used to figure out a word like cat or dog. I'm suggesting it be used as a cross-check to ensure that the words are correct and to make meaning from text, especially in cases of words with multiple-meanings. For those words that simply don't follow phonics rules (think high-frequency irregular sight words) and for cases where words look very similar and could easily be misread by a fluent reader who reads quickly (think words like "through" and "though"), using context as a cross-check to help monitor for errors is an important skill to have. But I agree that, above all, using phonics to decode words is a vital skill to have.
     
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  30. Tired Teacher

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    Oh, context is for meaning. Younger kids don't know how to use dictionaries. ( Especially if they have never learned phonics!) I usually taught context with multisyllabic words that I made up at first. That way the best reader did not know what the word meant.
    They'd be forced to sound it out and find its meaning. :)
    1x a young P came in my room and about died laughing when I asked the kids if any of them knew the meaning of a word like disphoyationous.
    A few hands automatically go up. Kids can come up with some funny stuff. Then I'd put a sentence like: The disphoyationous child never lied, cheated or stole . I could tell he was relieved after I revealed I had just made the word up.....lol It was good that he knew nothing about our reading program.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
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  31. a2z

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    Here is my problem with this statement:
    • graphic cues (what do the letters tell you about what the word might be?)
    • syntactic cues (what kind of word could it be, for example, a noun or a verb?)
    • semantic cues (what word would make sense here, based on the context?)
    Only one of the three cue types truly has to do with meaning. The first is purely about guessing a word by sight, not decoding. The second is guessing by the grammar. The last has the best chance to use meaning to guess the word, but context may not be enough to give meaning.

    The ______ was in the tree. So unless a child know the first letter or the first letter it could be a cat, a bird, a monkey, a snake, a nest, a ball, a kite, and on and on and on.

    I know you said three cueing along with phonics, but based on what three cueing is, I can't agree with three cueing at all. Maybe one cueing, semantic cues, but if kids were taught to use dictionaries and the phonetic sounds in the dictionary, they would become better readers.
     
  32. a2z

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    It depends. A child with no disabilities, can compare the word letter by letter with the dictionary. However, a child with little to know phonics knowledge or spelling ability can't use a dictionary for spelling purposes when writing.
     
  33. bella84

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    I just don’t see it the same way. I don’t see any of the clues to be about guessing. In my view, the visual cue isn’t about guessing a word by sight. It’s about using what you know about letter sound correspondence to read a word (decoding!). Sure, beginning readers might guess based on the first letter when they’ve learned little phonics, but experienced readers will use all the parts of the word.

    I also see syntactic and semantic cues as supporting meaning. In both cases, errors could by caught by thinking “does that make sense?” in this sentence and context?

    These are things that experienced readers do naturally. Decoding is absolutely important, but the other cues are necessary as a cross-checking method for irregular words and words with multiple meanings or pronunciations.

    Again, I just don’t see any of this to be about guessing. It’s about using cues to support thinking and understanding.

    Think about the word “wind”, for example. I can decode that word in two ways, but I need to use semantic and syntactic cues within the sentence to know which is the right pronunciation and meaning of the word. Decoding alone isn’t enough.
     
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  34. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Also, I think that having traditional dictionary skills are important, but I’m not sure that I agree that having those skills makes anyone a better reader... maybe a better writer/speller but not a reader.
     
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  35. a2z

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    Dictionaries give people the definitions of the words. No relying on cueing for the meaning.
     
  36. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Well, yes, if you don’t know what a word means you can look it up. But you can figure out the meaning of a multi-meaning word that you already know the meanings of by using context - syntactic and semantic cues.
     
  37. a2z

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    Well, then. We will just have to agree to disagree in our discourse. I am discussing based on what Goodman, the creator of the 3 cueing system explained and how his system was applied. If you have a different meaning of 3 cueing rather than what the creator meant, we really can't discuss the system in terms of reading.

    I do agree that we probably think that learning to read does require phonics instruction and thinking about the words we are reading so that we can comprehend, but in terms of Goodman's theory, we will just have to disagree.
     
  38. bella84

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    We can agree to disagree. That’s fine. We are discussing the same research, but as you’ve said the research may be applied in different ways. I don’t think Goodman has advised guessing in any of his work.
     
  39. a2z

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    Of course he does. It may be a more educated guess, but it is still guessing none-the-less when a person doesn't know how to sound out the word on the page and has to move on to less precise means to determine what the word MIGHT be.

    “Accuracy, correctly naming or identifying each word or word part in a graphic sequence, is not necessary for effective reading since the reader can get the meaning without accurate word identification. Furthermore, readers who strive for accuracy are likely to be inefficient.” (p.826) Goodman, K. S. (1974, Sept). Effective teachers of reading know language and children. Elementary English, 51, 823-828.

    So, he doesn't care if the child can't decode the word as long as he can use other means to guess what it might be.
     
  40. bella84

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    I think we are interpreting that differently. I would agree with him that often readers can get the message of a text without knowing all of the words. Even I, a proficient adult reader, have skipped over some very scientific terms when reading medical literature lately. I was still able to gather meaning from the text using context clues. I certainly wasn’t guessing at the word.

    In my previous post, I meant that I don’t think Goodman is suggesting “guessing” verbatim. But please correct me if I’m wrong. I know many people interpret his work to advising that readers guess at words, but I don’t interpret his research the same way, and I don’t think he has used those words.

    Regardless, I’m in agreement with you that schools must start teaching systematic, explicit phonics. I just don’t have a problem with and even see the value in providing additional instruction based on the work of Goodman or Calkins. I think providing instruction from all angles will allow us to cast the widest net and reach the most learners.
     
  41. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Oct 19, 2019

    No. You ignored the word completely. So you never read the word. If someone asked you about that term, you may not even be aware they are talking about what you read because you didn't read the word at all. And heck, you can't even be sure that the meaning you assigned to that term is really accurate. It can only be as accurate as the descriptive information provided in the text you read and authors don't always expect a reader to need all information provided in case they can't decode a word and skip it.

    This statement means that Goodman doesn't care if someone doesn't read a word correctly at all. He doesn't care for accuracy. So, it is ok to guess.

    If you aren't reading accurately, you are guessing. You are hoping that the meaning you are gleaning from context is good enough to cover for the word you didn't read correctly our couldn't read correctly.

    So, if you don't/can't decode/read a word but just decide your meaning is accurate because it makes sense to you based on the other information you read, isn't that guessing? Sure, if you get it right you say it was inferred, but who is to say you have it right unless someone checks to see if your guess was accurate.

    You do know that Kenneth Goodman's 1967 paper was titled ("Reading: A psycholinguistic guessing game").
     

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