What are those things that good readers do?
- First, good readers quickly notice details that help them recognize words.
- They see that a new word shares something with a word they already know. They see walk in walkable.
- Readers can look for chunks of words they already can say. Unreachable. They read un & reach & add able.
- It’s usually faster to decode using word-meaning clues than to decode using sound-symbol clues.
- Then if word-meaning doesn’t help they go back to sound-symbol clues.
You can model the ways good readers decode by describing your thinking process as you decode. For example, with the word unreachable, you could say something like this:
“I can see it’s not a compound word. So, I’ll look for any recognizable root words, prefixes, and suffixes. I see the suffix -able, and I see the prefix un-. The prefix -un means “not,” and the suffix -able means capable of. That still leaves us with reach. This must be the root word! None of its parts look recognizable on their own, so let’s decode it using phonetic clues. Now that we’ve done that, does anyone know what it means? Reach means grasp, get, or attain. So, unreachable means that something is unable to be grasped, gotten, or attained.”
Notice the details in the model that is provided here. It actually includes a lot of information about words and meanings. Talking about words and meaning helps students expand their oral vocabulary as well as helping them decode written words.
Good readers also read a lot and that helps them get better and better.
Also, as students read more, they end up memorizing what many words look like. This often happens naturally after they’ve decoded the same word several times. Some good readers like to learn new words so much that they memorize them by working with sight word cards and vocabulary lists.