Monday, May 18, 2009

That? Then? They?

A while back I wrote about a student who was dealing with a horrifically traumatic event in her life. It tears me up to even think about her life outside of school. She's been in a reading group with the absolutely amazing special ed teacher with whom I co-teach. When we reorganized our reading groups recently I took her on. We've had numerous discussions about this student, both because of the outside issues and academic concerns. However, I underestimated her challenges in reading.

The book we were reading recently had the word 'that' on almost every page. She was reading words I thought were more difficult so I decided we should tackle this one. She read the 'at' chunk in it just fine and knew the 'th' sound for the start. But she couldn't put the parts together to save her life. So I pulled out the little white board and we looked at lots of 'at' words. Interestingly enough she could read almost all of them. She never could get 'pat' right, she said 'put' or 'pan' each time. She also never read 'bat' correctly. She read 'but' always. And, of course, she never did get 'that'. I finally just told her the word, had her reread the sentence and move on. However, she came upon 'that' on subsequent pages and could never read it. I have no idea where we go next!

5 comments:

splatypus said...

I would remove it from text and treat it like a sight word. Strategies like recognizing the chunk and beginning sounds aren't working so try pure memorization. She might like to do a word hunt where she only finding "that" or a word sort where she has to sort "that" from other words she knows. Just a thought?!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a reading teacher, but I was in choir, and there are definitely two ways to make the 'th' sound -- one with just air, and one with vocal chords. It's like the difference between 'sue' and 'zoo' or "thistle" and "this'll" (contraction of this and will).

Maybe she's getting caught up on the difference of these two sounds? It seems like the 'th' sound is often taught with just air, and if she tries to pair the wrong 'th' sound with 'at', it would sound in her brain like a nonsense word, not the proper pronunciation of 'that'.

Just a guess...

katied said...

Not knowing the child and the exact situation, I may not be giving good advice but I am thinking three things that I might experiment with... I would talk about the differences in the "th" sound. I would chat and help her make connections other words like the, they, there (if she knows any of these) that have the same "th" sound. I might also try having her writing "that" in a guided writing session. Lastly, I might also go back to the text and use another strategy (thinking about what makes sense?) Just thoughts...good luck!

teach5 said...

No help or suggestions here, but I'm always facinated by the weird things that kids can or cannot do. When I see something like this, my brain wants to know why, or what is going on..... I've got kids in my kindergarten class that do this kind of stuff every day.

The Science Goddess said...

Some of the primary teachers I worked with last year had great success with putting these kinds of words on a powerpoint, one word per slide with a different color background. The slides were on a timer (so kids didn't have to navigate the presentation)and some had audio of the word being said when it appeared on the screen. It was something that gave them guided practice and an intervention that the teacher didn't have to continually monitor---and it made a huge difference.