Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Reading Post 6 of 7: Charlotte Mason Reading Stage 3: "Reading At Sight" Lessons

Charlotte Mason gives three examples of her “Reading at Sight” and “Spelling” lessons in Home Education Volume 1 (Please read them for yourself here:  https://amblesideonline.org/CM/1_5b.html).  
1st Example:   pages 204 through 205 (broken up with a bit of philosophy in the middle).  
2nd Example:  pages 211-214
3rd Example:  pages 217-222

Charlotte Mason gives us many great activities for teaching children to read!  Some children will need more work with memory - usually younger ones or beginning readers - and for those children, she presents more activities.  Other children will take to reading easily and memorize words quickly.  Those children may find many of the activities boring.  

Fortunately, Charlotte Mason’s examples are presented in increasingly detailed order.  She starts with instructions for children who need the least amount of help with memorizing and visualizing (likely more advanced readers or gifted beginners), and progresses to children who need most help with memorizing and visualization (likely beginners).

In this post I will focus on the “Reading at Sight” lessons.  These are to be interspersed with “Spelling” or “Word Making” lessons, which I will go into in my final post!  

Feel free to leave comments!  

ADVANCED READER (Example 1):  

Day 1, Advanced Reading at Sight Lesson:
1.  Teacher reads 2 lines (not more than 10 words), pointing to words.  
“Say––  ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star,  How I wonder what you are,’ is the first lesson; just those two lines. Read the passage for the child, very slowly, sweetly, with just expression, so that it is pleasant to him to listen. Point to each word as you read.” (p. 204)
2.  Ask student to read individual words that you just read, in random order.  
“Then point to 'twinkle,' 'wonder,' 'star,' 'what,'––and expect the child to pronounce each word in the verse taken promiscuously.” (p. 204)
3.  Continue Step 2 until all the new words are mastered.
“then, when he shows that he knows each word by itself, and not before” (p. 204)
4.  Let the student read the two lines perfectly.
“Let him read the two lines with clear enunciation and expression: insist from the first on clear, beautiful reading, and do not let the child fall into a dreary monotone, no more pleasant to himself than to his listener.”  (p. 204)
5.  Let the student say the two lines from memory.  
“Of course, by this time he is able to say the two lines; and let him say them clearly and beautifully. In his after lesson he will learn the rest of the little poem.” (p. 204)
6.  Word hunt to reinforce new words (key:  teacher guides to the general location):  
“The child should hunt through two or three pages of good clear type for 'little,' star,' you,' are,' each of the words he has learned, until the word he knows looks out upon him like the face of a friend in a crowd of strangers, and he is able to pounce upon it anywhere. Lest he grow weary of the search, the teacher should guide him, unawares, to the line or paragraph where the word he wants occurs. “ (p. 205)
Day 2, Next Reading at Sight Lesson PLUS an Advanced Spelling Lesson:
1.  Repeat all of Day 1’s activities with the next two lines of the selection.  
“The next 'reading at sight' lesson will begin with a hunt for the familiar words, and then–– ‘Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky,’ should be gone through in the same way.” (p. 205)
2.  Require the child to spell (from visual memory - eyes closed) any new, shorter words (and eventually, new longer words, too!).   
“As spelling is simply the art of seeing, seeing the letters in a word as we see the features of a face––say to the child, 'Can you spell sky?'––or any of the shorter words. He is put on his mettle, and if he fails this time, be sure he will be able to spell the word when you ask him next; but do not let him learn to spell or even say the letters aloud with the word before him.” (p. 205-206)
3.  Check for comprehension.  
“As for understanding what they read, the children will be full of bright, intelligent remarks and questions, and will take this part of the lesson into their own hands; indeed, the teacher will have to be on her guard not to let them carry her away from the subject.” (p. 206)

Characteristics of an “Advanced” student:
-  Will learn to read new words simply by having them pointed out and read to him while he is paying close attention.  
-  Will be able to close eyes and easily spell the new words he has learned to read.
-  Will not need many additional exercises to master both of these subjects!  

If your child does not display these characteristics, read on for more reading and spelling activities!  Most children will need additional activities to build their visual memory for excellent reading and spelling capabilities.  


Average Beginning Reader (Example 2):  

Goal:  “The point is that he should see, and look at, the new word many times, so that its shape becomes impressed upon his brain."

Preparation:
A.  Type all the words of your story into the computer.  Format them into little cards that can be cut apart.  Print 6 copies.  Make sure you keep them in the order they appear.  You may separate them according to progressive lessons - about 10 new words in each lesson.  
First, I bought a dozen penny copies of the 'History of Cock Robin'––good bold type, bad pictures, that we cut out.  Then we had a nursery pasting day––pasting the sheets on common drawing-paper, six one side down, and six the other; so that now we had six complete copies, and not twelve.” (p. 211)
B.  Cut apart the words for your first lesson, about 10 new words total.  Store in a marked envelope.  
“Then we cut up the first page only, of all six copies, line by line, and word by word. We gathered up the words and put them in a box, and our preparations were complete.” (p. 212)
C.  Continue cutting apart words for subsequent lessons, storing & marking appropriately.  
D.  Get a blackboard ready wherever you will work, large enough so you can write 10 words on it in a long column.  
“I always use a black-board in teaching the children.”  (p. 212)


Day 1 Lesson:  
1.  No distractions.  
“Bobbie and I are shut in by ourselves in the morning room.” (p. 212)
2.  Choose the most interesting word or name.  Write it on the blackboard in print writing.  
“I write up, in good clear 'print' hand, ‘Cock Robin’.  Bobbie watches with more interest because he knows his letters.  (p. 212)
3.  Say the word you have written.  Have child repeat.  
“I say, pointing to the word, 'cock robin,' which he repeats.” (p. 212)
4.  Word Find among word cards for just this lesson.  
"Then the words in the box are scattered on the table, and he finds half a dozen 'cock robins' with great ease.” (p. 212)
-  Note:  you don’t want to have too many cards, or the child will get frustrated.  
5.  Repeat steps 2-4 with all words for the lesson (up to 10 words, total).  Leave all 10 words up on the board, in column form.  
“We do the same thing with 'sparrow,' 'arrow,' 'said,' 'killed,' 'who,' and so on, till all the words in the verse have been learned.”
6.  Have the student read, in many different orders, from the blackboard, all the words he has learned .
“The words on the black-board grow into a column, which Bob reads backwards and forwards, and every way, except as the words run in the verse.”  (p. 212)
7.  Have the student play a “matching” game by finding all the words from the lesson from among the word cards & arranging them into a column, the same as you wrote on the board.  
“Then Bobbie arranges the loose words into columns like that on the board.  (p. 212)
8.  Allow the student to make his own column, in any order he would like, from his word cards.  
“Then into columns of his own devising, which he reads off.” (p. 212)
9.  Dictate a sentence slowly, and let the student find the right word cards and make them into a sentence.  
“Lastly, culminating joy (the whole lesson has been a delight!), he finds among the loose words, at my dictation,
'Who killed Cock Robin
I said the sparrow
With my bow and arrow
I killed Cock Robin,'
Arranging the words in verse form.” (p. 212)
10.  Have the student read the sentence out of the book you’re using.  
“Then I had still one unmutilated copy, out of which Bob had the pleasure of reading the verse, and he read it forwards and backwards. So long as he lives he will know those twelve words." (p. 213)
11.  Have your student read words from the book as you point at them randomly.  
he read it forwards and backwards.” (p. 213)
(Note:  Charlotte Mason recommended reading it backwards to ensure that the child really knew each word and was not reciting from memory.  However, that may cause a child to be confused about which direction he is supposed to read!  I suggest pointing at word randomly to check that your student knows each individually.)  

Day 2:  Spelling Lesson (more details in my final post in this series):
“Though many of our English words are each a law unto itself, others offer a key to a whole group, as arrow gives us sp arrow, m arrow, h arrow; but we have alternate days––one for reading, the other for word-building––and that is one way to secure variety, and, so, the joyous interest which is the real secret of success." (p. 214)

Day 3 Reading-at-Sight Lesson:  
1.  Repeat all of the Day 1 activities with the next lines in the selection.  
2.  Review the words from the first day(s) by pointing to them randomly and having the student read them.  This ensures he will not forget them.  
"When we have mastered the words of the second verse, Bob runs through the first in the book, naming words here and there as I point to them. It takes less than a minute, and the ground is secured." (p. 213)

Repeat days 2 & 3 until the selection is finished!  When done, have the child read the entire selection.
  

Beginner Reader who needs help to build visualization & memorization skills (Example 3):  


Preparation:  
Do everything as in Example 2.  In addition:  
E.  Prepare up to 12 sentences which you will dictate to the child and the child will find the words.  Ensure you have word cards for all of the words.  For any words your child does not yet know (1-2 at most each session), have blank cards to put in as place holders for the not known words.  
F.  Obtain a special notebook which will be the student’s “Word Bank” of words he knows.  

Day 1:  Reading-at-Sight Lesson
1.  Choose the most interesting word or name.  Write it on the blackboard in print writing.  
We write up in good big print hand 'Pussy.' Tommy watches with interest: he knows the letters, and probably says them as we write.” (p.218)
Extra:  Have your child say the phonetic sounds of the letters as they are written on the board.  If writing a phonetic combination, say it as you write it so the child does not go wrong.  
2.  Say the word you have written.  Have child repeat.  
“We simply tell him that the word is 'pussy.' Interest at once; he knows the thing, pussy, and the written symbol is pleasant in his eyes because it is associated with an existing idea in his mind.” (p. 218)   
3.  Have your child look at the word until he is certain he knows it.  In other words, until he can visualize the letters in his mind’s eye.  
“He is told to look at the word 'pussy' until he is sure he would know it again.”
4.  Have the student find the letters in the word from memory (from among his letter box).  
“Then he makes 'pussy' from memory with his own loose letters.”  (p. 218)
Extra:  If you have made letter squares with phonograms (2 letters together that make a special sound), have him use the phonogram squares to make up the word.  (See my earlier posts for details.)  Since there are so many phonograms, try to pre-select the ones he’ll need.  
5.  Word Find among word cards for just this lesson.  
“Then the little bag containing our two lines in loose words is turned out, and he finds the word 'pussy'” (p. 218)
-  Note:  Again, don’t have too many cards, or the child will get frustrated.  
6.  Word Find among the line of the poem for the word being learned.  
“Lastly, the little sheet with the poem printed on it is shown to him, and he finds 'pussy,' but is not allowed yet to find out the run of the rhyme.” (p. 218)
7.  Repeat steps 2-4 with all words for the lesson (up to 10 words, total).  Leave all 10 words up on the board, in column form.  
“'Coat, little, like, is, her, warm, I, so,' are taught in the same way” (p. 218)
8.  As the student finds each word on a word card, have him arrange one of each just like the column on the blackboard.  
When each new word is learned, Tommy makes a column of the old ones” (p. 218)
9.  Have the student read, in many different orders, from the blackboard, all the words he has learned .
“and reads up and down and cris-cras, the column on the blackboard.”
8.  Allow the student to make his own column, in any order he would like, from his word cards.  
9.  Dictate a sentence slowly, and let the student find the right word cards and make them into a sentence.  
“He knows words now, but he cannot yet read sentences. Now for the delight of reading. He finds at our dictation, amongst his loose words, 'pussy––is––warm,' places them in 'reading' order, one after the other, and then reads off the sentence. Joy, as of one who has found a new planet!” (p. 218-219)
10.  Continue with about 12 dictated sentences, but not directly from the selection if you are keeping it a secret (see #11).  
“Then, 'her-little-coat-is-warm,' 'Pussy-is-so-little,' 'I-like-pussy,' 'Pussy-is-little-like-her-coat,' and so on through a dozen more little arrangements.” (p. 219)
11.  Optional:  Keep the selection a secret until the child has learned all the words for the entire nursery rhyme!  
“If the rhyme can be kept a secret till the whole is worked out, so much the better. To make the verses up with his own loose words will give Tommy such a delicious sense that knowledge is power, as few occasions in after life will afford.” (p. 219)
12.  If you’re not keeping it a secret, now is the time dictate to the child the entire sentence from the selection and allow him to make it with his word cards.  After that, let the child read the sentences containing the words he has learned directly from his book.  
13.  When you are at the end of the final lesson for all of the words in the rhyme, allow the child to make up the entire verse with his own loose words as you dictate it to him, and finally read it directly from his book.  
“To make the verses up with his own loose words will give Tommy such a delicious sense that knowledge is power, as few occasions in after life will afford.” (p. 219)

Next and Final Post:  “Spelling” or “Word Making” lessons! 

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