Saturday, May 9, 2015

Test Prep for Kindergarten Reading

It’s crunch time, test time.  Can your kids read level E books?  That’s the new benchmark for kindergarten (in New York City) and it keeps rising.

When kids read, I remind them:

  • Look at the picture first.  Take your time.  Think about what’s happening.
  • Read the sight words you know.
  • Sound out words you don’t know.  Try the short vowel sound, and if it doesn’t make sense, try the long vowel sound.
  • Skip the vowel if you’re not sure what vowel sound to use.  Sometimes you can figure out the word that way.
  • Read small chunks of words, and then join them together to say a longer word.

Sight words are the golden key to reading fluency.  Dolch or Fry, all the sight word lists are good.  If kids know the top 25 sight words, and then learn the top 100 sight words, they know most of the words on a book page. 

I like to teach the easiest words first—the 2-letter sight words, then 3-letter sight words. 

I also teach sight words all year.  As we read I point them out.  “We know that word; it's _____.”

Of course, reading is not enough.  Kids have to comprehend, too—and answer questions about the book. 

  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are they like?  (Kind?  Friendly?  Brave?  Mean?) 
  • How do you know?  How can you tell?  How does the author show you?  How does the illustrator show you?
  • What is their favorite thing to do?
  • How do they feel about each other, or about what is happening?  How do you know?
  • What was the character’s problem?
  • How did she solve the problem?
  • What do you think she was thinking?
  • What was the most important part of the story?  Why?
  • Can you predict what will happen next?
  • Did this part of the story remind you of anything?
Reading a lot of level books and answering questions will make children at ease with the process.  I start with easier texts, like level C books…
...and level D books:
Ideally, kids should be so comfortable with reading and comprehending that taking a reading test is just like taking a walk in the park.

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