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Reading in the primary grades online

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speed may be reached in it.
\ Specific tests to arouse a desire to read rapidly
and to train in methods of gaining speed may well
be given. Jtn general, for these tests, it may be
bejttexjpj^j^ativelyi simple ...material, to bor-
row supplementary readers from lower grades.
When testing for speed pay no attention to ex-
pression or to inaccuracies which do not affect
the thought. Each pupil may well keep a record
of his own score and make a graph showing his

Types of speed drills

All pupils open books at given page; are told where
to begin to read. Close books but keep places with
finger. Told to open at signal "Start"; to close at
signal " Stop." Teacher or pupil gives signals, allow-
ing one minute for reading. Test how far each read
in the time allowed. How many read one page? two
pages? Question as to main thought.

Pupils are asked to read a given amount, each
standing when through. Teacher writes on board at
the end of 15 seconds, "15 sec"; at end of 30 seconds,
"30 sec"; and so on. Each child notes the number of
seconds written first after he stands.

Pupils find given page, hold book closed, open upon
signal, look for well-known sentences or word groups,



close books on signal and report. Only a few seconds
should be allowed for finding these sentences.

Pupils find given page, look for names of persons,
of objects, expressions showing time.

Books on desks closed; teacher or pupil reads to
part of story where suspense is aroused; class finish
story silently, keeping time in seconds as above.

Mastery of form is a continuous process.
Throughout life new forms will be learned, old
forms will tend to become better fixed. The
child who has been trained to reasonable self-
helpfulness, who has learned to conquer new
words through either context relation or analy-
sis of form, and who has a reading rate worthy
of his ability, has reason to thank the teachers
who have made this possible.

The hygiene of type and page
There has been notable improvement in the
hygienic^make-up of readers for use in early
grades. [Jhe teacher needs to know whether the
books she is using measure up to the best stand-
ards. Hn higher grades there is still need for im-
provement in the majority of books used. In-
vestigation is being made of the size of type best
fitted for charts and drill cards, of the distance
at which pupils can best see charts and cards.


Eyestrain will be less common when scientific
standards have been developed and adopted.
The standards given by Shaw are as follows: —


Size of type

Width of leading


2.6 mm.

4.5 mm.






One inch equals 25.4 millimeters. Rulers may be
obtained which measure inches on one edge and
millimeters on the other. The height of a one-
space letter measures the size of type. Width of
leading is measured from the base line of one line
of type to the top of a one-space letter in the
next succeeding line; i.e., from the base of an i
in one line to the top of an n in the next line.

Type should be clear and sufficiently black.
Standards are not yet developed. Printing from
another page should not show through. Paper
should be without gloss. The inner margin of
the page should be wide enough so that when the
book is open troublesome shadows are not seen
and words are not distorted by the curve of the
inner part of the page. The binding should be

In primer work, when sentences longer than
one line are first used, the division should be


made so that the natural word groups remain
unbroken : —

It said, " Tick-tock, tick-tock ! "
night and day.

not: —

It said, " Tick-tock, tick-tock! " niglit
and day.

Word lists, alphabets, script forms, and other
extraneous matter might better be on separate
pages. They tend to distract the eye from the
continuous forward sweep essential for reading.
Pictures may be so scattered on a page that they
also tend to interfere with the eye sweep. They
should be placed at the top or bottom of the page
or on separate pages.

vy ;



The basic text and its use
The best basic text is one which presents rich
content, varied style, and wholesome repetition
of a natural vocabulary — all graded to suit the
interests and abilities of a given class. With such
a text strong work may be done in thought inter-
pretation, in expressive oral reading, and in drill
leading to independence. Pupils may return
again and again to certain selections or para-
graphs to compare events and characters with
those in other sections, to express actions or emo-
tions portrayed in specific sentences, to discover
the frequency with which a common word or
idiom has been used.LThe basic text should be a
mine of delight; the more it is used by class and
teacher, the deeper should be their interest in its
poems and stories. ^

A more intensive type of work is to be done
with the basic reader than with supplementary
material, a higher degree of finish should be


reached with the oral reading which it presents.-
The pictures in its descriptions, the music in its
poems, the characters in its stories should enter
into the lives of the pupils, helping them not
only in their interpretation of new reading mate-
rial, but also in reading the scenes of the life
drama of which they are a part. All that deadens
must be kept away from a reading lesson in the
basic text, all that vitalizes^ must be brought to
help in its interpretation.

Four problems in beginning reading
The problems of the teachers of beginning read-
ing are in part identical with those of all teach-
ers. The more these teachers realize that those
in other grades share their problems, the greater
will be their professional comradeship; one may
get help and give help on all sides, for growth is
assured in this way. A clear understanding of the
special problems met by the child in his early
reading is essential, however; only by knowing
these is it possible to provide for their mastery.

The mystery of connecting thought with sym-
bol has been partly solved for most children
by the time they enter school. They know that
older children and grown people enjoy looking at
the queer black marks in books and newspapers.



Rhymes and stories have been read to them from
their own picture books, and they may be able
to find the page on which some favorite appears,
perhaps looking at the page itself and reciting
the rhyme in imitation of the grown-ups.
Four great problems confront them : —

a. Learning the printed words which are symbols
of spoken words.

b. Getting control of the nerves and muscles which
govern the smaller eye movements.

c. Analyzing words to find elements with which to
discover new words.

d. Learning to respond to the thought presented
by the printed page.

All early reading is' a combination of reading
by the teacher and by the pupil, for whenever a
teacher tells a word she is really reading. The
words read may be divided into three classes : —

(i) The words which the teacher tells or suggests,
a large number at first, gradually growing less.

(2) The words which the pupils attempt to name
because of the context, but of which they are
not sure — a much more valuable source of
mastery than is generally recognized. Each
attempt must be confirmed or corrected imme-
diately, but the pupils should be encouraged
to make these attempts.

(3) The words which the pupils know — gradually




growing in number. Pupils need much praise
for mastering words.

There are three special eye movements in
which children need training: —

(i) The movement from left to right in reading
words and in reading lines. Careful pointing
from left to right aids here greatly. This move-
ment is established in a few weeks.

(2) The movement from the right end of one line
to the left end of the next line. By using a
plain strip of paper, four inches by one inch,
the child may cover the lines below the one
which he is reading. When he finishes reading
one line, the moving of the marker exposes the
next and confusion is avoided. This move-
ment is established by the end of the first half

(3) The grasping of two or more words in a single
eye movement. This helps to establish a rapid
rate of reading. It is helped by work with
phrases or word groups;

The analysis of words into their elements is a
great help in mastering new words, but it should
not be depended upon too much during the first
half-year. During the second and third years it
should become an effective tool. .Phonic work
should be used for its values in voice training and
ear training as well as for word analysis.


(i) Rhyming wards. Use the rhyming words given
in the rhymes to call attention to the likeness
of the sounds. Repeat tree, me; you, mew; fly,
by, rock-a-bye, dwelling on the sounds. Have
the children repeat these. Let them give other
words which rhyme. Instead of telling a new
word in the lesson, say sometimes, It rhymes

with . The children know nod; ask, Who

can find a word in the lesson which rhymes with
nod ? The pleasure in the sound value interests
the children in learning the words.

(2) Imitative words. Use the words which imitate
sound or action — mew, twinkle, moo, rock-a-
bye, peek-a-boo — to arouse interest in mak-
ing sounds. Children enjoy repeating these
sounds over and over. Babble-bubble is a word
in which they delight, it gives much practice
on b, yet this sound is difficult to give by itself.
Work for different ways of playing with these
sounds — loud, soft, near, far away, in differ-
ent tones of voice. This will lead to better
voice control as well as train the ear to sound

(3) Phonograms and consonant sounds. These are
selected from the words which the children are
using frequently in their reading. The essen-
tials are for a child to hear the sound clearly,
to repeat the sound distinctly, to associate the
sound with the written symbol, to use the
.knowledge thus gained in attacking new words.



Work for clear sweet sounds; b should be mel-
low; s, sibilant; m, n, p, and t, delicate. Watch
the placing of the tongue, the use of lips and
teeth ; many defects of articulation come because
children do not use these organs properly.

The teacher may begin the reading work by
using the primer from the first, supplementing
this by blackboard lessons; she may prefer to
spend some weeks in blackboard work without
the primer. There is a false notion in the minds
of many primary teachers that to tell a child a
word is all right in blackboard work, all wrong
in primer work. There is really no difference ; at
first he must be told, in no other way can he learn.
As he gains power to discover new words through
context or phonic analysis, fewer words will be
told him. The effectiveness of blackboard work
lies in its flexibility, the variety of experience
which may be turned into reading lessons, the
ease with which new sentences may be written,
and the frequency with which needed words may
be written many times. The permanence of the
material printed in the primer is its valuable qual-
ity; to-day, to-morrow, next week, the words
appear in the*same place, stories with their ap-
propriate pictures, sentences in the accustomed




£arly reading lessons must be short. The chil-
ren must be working with thought material in
simple form. Much of the reading should be
silent, the child interpreting the thought by ac-
tion, movement, drawing. Drills on words should
be at separate periods. Slowly a reading vocabu-
lary is built up. The teacher should plan to use
this vocabulary in varied lessons. Fortunately
the supplementary primers use largely the same
vocabulary of fundamental words, though their
stories differ. This makes it possible to turn now
to this primer, now to that, for an additional les-
son, thus adding interest and getting the much-
needed repetition.

Incidental reading makes use of the words

which pupils see frequently: street names and

signs; names of street cars seen daily; names of

Mpublit buildings, post-office, bank, library, church ;

nidfef seeds, of farming implements, the chil-
dren,^ Hfel names and those of their parents.
Directions may be given by writing them on the
blacKSPird: Run to your seats. Take your letter
cards. Make these words.

The experiences of the children may be made
the basis of a lesson related to the regular lesson
but giving a different viewpoint. A Monday les-
son might well grow out of a simple talk as to


what the mothers are doing. Such sentences as
this will be developed : —

This is Monday.
See mother wash.
See her wash the clothes.
Splash, splash, splash!

Even in such simple work there needs to be a
central thought, no matter how briefly expressed.
There must be natural sequence in the sentences
and a variety of expression to call for natural
voice control. Keep the sentences childlike in

Whenever possible, have older pupils copy
these lessons, then bind them into booklet form
with the children's own illustrations. Each child
then has his own book which he has made, and
the lessons can be re-read many times.

Encourage children to bring picture books
from home to read to the class. Make use of sup-
plementary school readers from the first.

Description of an early book lesson

-Th e prese ntation of a readingiesspnjs^a _very

complex process7~TJoughtful_experience may

enable tEe"teac5er to make such a lesson a high

type of artistic work. No two people will give



any lesson in exactly the same way, although
many basic elements will be used by all teachers.
Every teacher needs to vary her procedure from
day to day. Many ways of making such varia-
tions are suggested in this text. A certain basic
procedure from which variations occur tends to
become habitual with each teacher. This is the
product of her experience and should illustrate
her best endeavors. If it is based upon correct
principles, she need find no cause for alarm in the
fact that it differs from the work of a colleague.
To help the experienced teacher in challeng-
ing her own practice, to show the inexperienced
teacher the complexity of an ordinary lesson, the
following description is given.

The pupils are assumed to have reached a
stage in which certain attitudes and habits have
been initiated. They follow the central thought.
They associate the thought in a sentence with
the character speaking. They know a few words
and phonic elements. They can work out sen-
tences with the teacher's help. They can keep
the place with the aid of markers and forefingers.
The stronger pupils are able to read the page in
sentence groups after the individual sentences
have been read. They are likely to suggest
dramatizing this page.



Lesson procedure 1

The teacher's part

The child's part

To relate the picture to the
thought and test of the lesson.

What has Betty met this morn-

Find the word bird in our les-
son. (If the children have trouble
in finding it, tell them to look at
the end of the first line.) Name
it. Find it again. Name it. (Be
certain that every child finds and
points to the word.)

What has the bird in the tree?

Find the words a nest in the

What are in the nest?

Find the words three eggs.

Play that you hear the bird
speak. What does he say? (If
they do not give "Tweet, tweet I"
the teacher rnay give it.) Find
the bird's words in our lesson.

Note. This part of the lesson
should move rapidly. Encourage
children's remarks about the situ-
ation, but push definitely through
the work.

To enjoy the picture. To point
to words and word groups named
by the teacher.

A bird.

Children find, point, name.

Children find, point, name.

A nest.

Children find, point, name.

Three eggs.

Children find, point, name.
Imitate bird sounds which they
have heard.

Children find, point, name.


To read about Betty and the

Children place markers.


To help the children to read
the sentences.

Place your markers below the
title of the lesson. The name of

1 Based upon page 42 in The Riverside Primer. Copyrighted, 1911, by
Houghton Mifflin Company. A reproduction of this page of the Primer is
here inserted.













•i— 1
l— 1








i— 1



i— i









Association of the thought withthos e word s
Which are full of meaning is the_first^sterj jn learn -
ing such words anolword groups . This is illus-
trated by bird, a nest, three eggs, how do you do,
although only the last group is new. Association
of the sound with the word is illustrated by tweet.
A secqnd^step is the comparison of like wojro^orms,
as in comparing the first sentence with the title,



the second very with the first. j\J^ird_step_is the
reco gnition of known words. This is utilized in
each line read. Each pupil whispers those he
knows as he works in preparing the sentence.
Strong pupils tell known words which give others

Control of eye movements is helped as the sig-
nificant words are found in part I. The teacher's
directions need to be specific here — at or near,
beginning of fine, end of line, top of page, middle
of page, bottom of page. The use of the markers
and of pointing as in part II is another help. The
final reading in part III is fine training in control
of the eyes. Accuracy, then speed, should be
developed as these habits are formed.

Analysis of words is touched upon by the work
with the sound b. Response to thought comes
in the conversation concerning the lesson and
in the dramatization. Yet in working out these
various problems, a unified lesson is the pro-

Classification of lesson types

Thgrej : ding_m : at erial sup eliecL t o our pupil s

variesji Lstyle and in purpo se. The teacher needs

to recognize this variety and adapt her teaching

to the style~^6rg u^rpose~ or each selecti on. While



this is done by the better trained teachers
throughout the country, it is not at all unusual
to find a nonsense poem being read without any
realization that there is fun in it, a descriptive
selection used for drill in oral reading, and other
types used without any regard for values.
( Not only do tlje author's style and purpose
\ need to guide the teacher in determining her
J lesson plans, but also the needs of the class for
[lessons of such types as give them power in differ-
ent lines. OnJJjejmj^KmdJhe-teach^^ to
ask herself : Is this a nonsense poem or a lyric;
an informational selection or a story; an appre-
ciation of nature or a tale showing some racial
virtue? Onjthe-othei hand^she -questions : Does
this class need training in rapid silent reading ; in
emotional response; in better habits of study?
Only as she recognized both of these phases in
her lesson planning, will she help her pupils in
solving their reading problems. There should_be_
steady growth in^^vej^j^eaxiing-dass^long all
these lines. To some there is a suggestion of her-
esy in the statement that pupils may get the
message of a selection through silent reading;
others doubt the need of drill lessons, while some
timid souls fear they will be charged with waste
of time if they give appreciation lessons.


A classification based upon the character of
the reading material will give : —

The poem of nature.

The poem of child life.

The poem of fun.

The short story.

The informational selection.

The drama.

The long story.

A classification based upon types of work to
be accomplished contains : —

The study recitation.
The silent reading lesson.
The appreciation lesson.
The dramatic reading.
The dramatization.

The drill, including the sight reading lesson.
The presentation of individual and group read-

Types based upon character of material
The poem of nature

Recall the nature experience upon which the
poem is based. A similar experience may have to
be accepted. The poem gives a new thought, a
different interpretation of these nature ideas.



The message of the swallow, the mystery of the
wind, the moon floating in the sea of sunset, —
these are the treasures the poet shows us.

The music of each poem also needs to be
brought out. Many times the teacher needs to
read the poem to the children first. Notice the
rhyming words, the repetition of words and word-
groups, the use of alliteration. Always read a
poem so that the rhythm is evident — not in a
singsong way, but fitting the words and thought
to the rhythm as you would to music.

The poem of chili life

These are JjCe the nature poems except that
the basic experience is found in the child's rela-
tionship with people, in his own activities. Hu-
man nature is more valuable to the child than the
nature world, essential as that is. Thinking about
such an experience in a beautiful way makes it
poetic. Never let word difficulties crowd out the
beauty. —

The poem of fun

The children must see the fun, that is the main

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Online LibraryFrances JenkinsReading in the primary grades → online text (page 4 of 7)