Word By Word
It was time to pay attention to the words I was teaching. I was carefully curating lists of words so students could practice the phonics rules I was teaching them. I was getting tired of dredging up the same words over and over: cactus, picnic, dentist, locate, remote, Chippendale, badminton and fig.
In 2003, Sally Shaywitz’s book Overcoming Dyslexia came out. I got my hands on it as soon as I could and read it right away. The book covered a lot of ground, but what I couldn’t get out of my head was one of her conclusions regarding fluency. Students acquire fluency “word by word,” she said. There were a lot of words I was sweeping under the carpet.
About a year later, I read a study published in Annals of Dyslexia entitled, “Training reading fluency in dysfluent readers with high reading accuracy: Word specific effects but low transfer to untrained words.”
The investigators found that “remarkable” amount of repetitions on trained words with certain consonant clusters did not generalize to untrained words with the same consonant clusters.
I had to liberate myself.