Monday, February 2, 2009

Reading at Sight: Lesson 1 (Part Three)

This post is intended to give an example, step-by-step, of an actual lesson with an actual child (mine!) using the Charlotte Mason method for teaching a child to read as detailed in Home Education. I hope to post a more concise version in Word format soon for others who may wish to try these CM reading lessons with their own children.

Yes, three parts to the first lesson. I would have just called them lessons 1, 2, and 3, except that Punkin and I had still not successfully completed Miss Mason's instructions for the first lesson. So, I'm posting our first three lessons as our "first lesson" :)

I posted about our actual first "reading at sight" lesson last week. There were some issues ;) We made some in roads, though, after figuring out that Punkin wasn't sure what a word was... good grief. How did I miss that?! I've probably lost all credibility with you dear readers :)Anyway, we had a little troubleshooting session and talked all about words and spaces, greatly helping Punkin's success with sight-reading. Yay! Today, then, we continued on with what Miss Mason outlines as the first lesson - the first two lines of "Twinkle, twinkle".

The initial, smaller font

The larger font (in a sideways pic - what happened?!)

I had mentioned the other day that Punkin seemed to do better with her word-building lessons when the font was larger. I decided to test this out with the reading-at-sight lessons, too. I printed out a second copy of the poem, this time with considerably larger font. Miss Mason never mentions the size of the font, but I'd say it's fairly safe to assume that she used the size of regular "book" font, since she gives examples of other reading lessons (word box lessons) that make use of words literally cut from books. But, I wanted to see if the larger font would help Punkin, and I believe it did. Here's today's lesson, a far cry from our true first lesson (Miss Mason's words are in italic):

"Lessons in word-making help him to take intelligent interest in words; but his progress in the art of reading depends chiefly on the 'reading at sight' lessons... The teacher must be content to proceed very slowly, securing the ground under her feet as she goes. Say - 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are," is the first lesson; just those two lines." Home Education, page 204

I was reeeaaallly hoping to get through the first two lines today, and finally finish the material for the "first" lesson :)

"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."

I read the first two lines of the poem. As I read, I pointed beneath each word. However, instead of just pointing beneath the middle of the word, I moved my finger under each word from left to right as I read, picking my finger up at the spaces between the words. This is not mentioned by Miss Mason; I did it to make certain Punkin was clear on the beginnings and endings of the words.

"Then point to 'twinkle', 'wonder', 'star', 'what', - and expect the child to pronounce each word in the verse taken promiscuously..."

"Promiscuously" just means in no particular order. So, I pointed to 'star', 'twinkle', 'little', 'Twinkle' - she knew them from a previous lesson. Now, the test - I pointed to 'How'... she knew it! I pointed to 'are'... she knew it! I pointed to 'wonder'... she didn't. 'What'? Nope. 'I' - yes, she knew that one, and we talked about how it is just the name of the letter, but it is also used in sentences ("I am going home", etc.). She did not know 'you', either. So, I pointed to each of the words that she did not remember and read them again. We focused on just those three words for a few minutes until I felt that she knew them. Then we tried again. I pointed to all ten words promiscously and she did better. We focused in on trouble words again for just a short bit. I pointed to all ten words promiscously yet again, and Punkin read them all several times!

"But we have not yet finished the reading lesson on 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star". 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, let the teacher guide him unawares (without him knowing it) to the line or paragraph where the word he wants occurs."

Searching for words (Ack! Still sideways!)

Then I brought out a newly printed page of text (with larger font) and had Punkin search for words as I said them. I had to give her a little help with the general area - "Look somewhere over here", for instance. She found the words, though, all ten of them. We had been working at the lesson for fifteen minutes now, and it was time to stop. But, after such hard work and success, we had to end on the sweetest note...

"...then, when he shows that he knows each word by itself, and not before, let him read the two lines with clear enunciation and expression..."

I slid my finger under each word as Punkin read:

"Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are,"

And the expression on her face captured in one look all the reasons I love teaching my children at home.