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The Decodable Book Webinar Series

Decodable Books: Let’s Get Started

Webinar #1

Decodable Books: Let’s Get Started

Webinar #1

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Webinar # 1: Let’s Get Started


Hi! Welcome! My name is Elise Lovejoy. I am the owner and founder of Express Readers a TK through 2nd grade Foundational Skills and Reading Program, as well as a series of decodable books, the Express Readers’ books. And we are so excited to have you here today. Thank you for joining us! I hope that you will like this first Decodable Webinar: Let’s Get Started! It’s the first in a series of seven. 

Let’s get started. We are kicking off the Decodable Book Webinar Series with “Let’s Get Started.” This will hopefully help you understand what Decodable books are, how to use them, and how to pick them. I have been lucky enough to be a part of a community of Decodable book authors who are incredible educators and parents and people that have started writing decodable books as they saw the need. So, luckily, I get to share their books in my teaching today. 

This is what we’re going to go over, we’re going to go over “What is a Decodable book?” We’re going to talk about which decodable books you need, not by specific series but by content or, or set up. We’re going to do “I have my decodable books. Now, what?” Now you’ve chosen and you’ve decided which ones you want and need and, and now what do you do with them? 

“What is a decodable book?” We’re going to define it. We’re going to talk about decodable books alongside of leveled readers. We’re going to talk about decodability and the research that’s currently available. 

Basically, a decodable book is a book that a child has the skills to read. It’s the phonic structures. It is the sight words that they already know. Most decodable books have a handful of sight words, or words that can’t be decoded yet or have irregular spellings. And the reason for this is that in order to make a story, or make something make sense, or be engaging, you often need a couple of words that are high-frequency that kids can’t decode. But a decodable book is based around the skill sets that a child already has. 

The basic, what’s a decodable book? Well, we have the letters, here’s your alphabet. You’ve got 26 letters. Here are all the consonants. Most children in the first stages of learning, learn the basic sound-spellings for the consonants. 

You’ve got the basic sound spellings here. And when I say basic, I mean, the most used or the ones that are found in the easiest words. So, the least amount of letters. We often talk about CVC words; it’s a consonant, vowel, consonant. 

We talk about the sounds that you would find spelled by the letters there. This is something from a grapheme map that I had made a while back. And it shows the percentage with which that spelling makes that sound. So, we do teach “C” as /k/ although it spells other sounds. We do teach it as /k/ to begin with. So, here we’ve got the basic sounds. 

You’ll see, letters like Q and X, they make more than one sound. So, they’re often later in a scope and sequence and then, we’ve got vowel sounds or the vowels. Most programs begin with the short vowel sound because it’s easier spelling. It’s the most common vowel in small words. And this isn’t to say that we don’t introduce or we don’t explain what the long vowel sounds are. But, as far as in a systematic explicit teaching, we would teach the vowels as short vowel sounds first. Taking all of those, then this is how we begin with our decodable books. 

We will add on more complex phonic structures as we go, but this would be done systematically, it would be done so you would be reading books that had the ones you had already learned in them. 

Here, I’m going to give you an example. This is a book by Phonic Books LTD and it’s Sam Tam and Tim. If I’m looking at this book, I can see on the back, these are the sounds that I need to know the basic spellings of. I would need to know /s/-/a/-/t/-/i/-/m/ in order to decode the words that are in this book, 

This is one by Aligned Decodables. In this book, you would need to know these specific consonants and these short vowel sounds. So, if I was currently working on short U, I wouldn’t be using this book. I need to look at what’s in the books and then choose a book based on that. So, if I have the short vowels, /a/-/e/-/i/-/o/, I would use this book as a great way to practice decoding using, using those sounds.

This is one by Express Readers. Now you’ll see the difference is that in this one, you need all the short vowels and we’re doing CVC words. You would need the consonants as well. Basically, learning how to look at these decodable books and decide what it is that you need to have taught or your kids need to be learning at that time. 

This is a scope and sequence. It’s just one, it’s ours. But what I want to show you is that the way that we setup decodable books is as a decodable book within a scope and sequence. You will be reading a book that has the phonics they’re working on and everything from before it. So, when we talk about a scope and sequence, it’s something that builds. It’s something where you are scaffolding. Kids continue to practice the skills that came before, but that now they are practicing specifically for a skill that they’re learning. So, if you are doing step five. and you’re doing long vowel teams, you will need to know all this before. Seems like a lot. But over the years of teaching or over the year of teaching, depending on what your structure is, kids will then find success using the new phonic structures you’re teaching. 

Leveled reading or leveled readers are something that a lot of us have used in our classrooms. I was trained using leveled readers. And, I want to make very clear that books all have a place within schools, within homes, within libraries. They all have a place, and stories are wonderful for children. But, when we talk about specific purposes, we really need to look at the materials we’re using with our students. A leveled reader was developed based on the number of words, the complexity of the sentence, sometimes by the subject matter that’s involved in it, but decodable books were based on the composition of the actual words. So, when we’re asking children to practice using the skills that they have based on words and sound spellings, a decodable book is a great place to practice reading using those skills. 

Now, here’s a leveled reader. “These are pears. These are bananas. These are grapes.” This would be a great way to go over sentence structure, how many words are in sentence. But being leveled at an A a child might know the basic sounds like when we went over the alphabet before. They might know the basic sounds spelled by the alphabet. In that case, not one of these words is decodable. So, it depends on what I’m asking of the student. If I am asking them to read the words, this might not be the place I ask them to practice. 

This is a really cute book. Emmett and The Bright Blue Cape but this is also a level 1. So, if I’m asking a child to read the actual words that are in that book, this is how many words they can actually decode (5 words out of 2 pages). It points to what are we asking of students? This is an example I’ll use: if you went to the gym. Oh, it’s your first time or maybe your second time, and you’re going to the gym. The trainer looks you up and down and says, “okay, based on your age and your weight, these are the heavy dumbbells you should be able to lift.” You’re standing among, you know, all the lifters, all the bodybuilders or whatever it may be. People who are a little better at it than you. Anyhow, you’re standing there with all of them. How are you going to feel because you might not have the skills or the muscles to do that yet? So, by putting this in front of a child and saying you have to read this, that’s one thing. Now, my house has a lot of books in it that my kids can’t actually read using their skill set, but I read those books to my kids. By allowing our kids to have access to all kinds of books. We’re allowing them to love reading, because the love for reading starts before a child can ever do it themselves. We’re showing them what they can read when they gain those skills. But a leveled reader, in general, as a requirement for practice for a child to read is a difficult place. 

This is another reason why. This is from one of the bigger publishing companies, and it explains level A. It says that it’s highly supported by pictures. What is meant by that is that the text is supported. So, if they can’t figure out the actual text, they can use the pictures. There’s repeating language patterns. Well, patterns allow for a child to repeat something again and again and again. They’re not necessarily reading the words, they’re saying it from memory. Predictable sentences. If you predict something, you make an educated guess, so you are guessing based on what you know. Predicting is a way to look at a text, but it is not the way that you read it. Strongly sight word based. So, as I said before, sight words most often are words that can’t be decoded yet or have an irregular spelling. If there’s a lot of those in a book, it’s not going to be very easy for the child to actually access that text. With leveled readers, the difficulty comes in that if these are the ways we are asking children to read a book, we are not asking them to attend to the text or the sound spellings or phonic structures in that text. 

What is decodability? And does it matter? Decodability is basically a percentage of how many words in that book the student can read. It is taken by taking how many words are decodable based on a certain skill set and dividing it by how many words are in the book and then you get your percentage. It’s based on a scope and sequence. 

When we look at this, this is a book from our [Express Readers’] Step 3. It has digraphs in it. If the child is or student, I should say student, I apologize. If the student can read basic sound-spellings from the alphabet, they can read 50% of this. A little bit difficult. But, if at the scope and sequence where this book is put, they can read CVC, blends, diagrams, they can read 83% of this book using the skills that they have. This is going to drive kids to actually use what we’re teaching them in phonics and in the structures in class, in the reading that they do. 

This is a book by Simple Words, and this is also extremely decodable at a basic level. So, this will be a book that I might use with a child who is still practicing skills but is maybe further along in years. Now, if they only know the basic letter spellings, they’d only be able to read 26% of this book. But, if they know blends, digraphs, and basic letter spellings, they can read 70% of this book which allows them to practice the things that they’re learning. 

We’ve discussed what it is, but does it matter? Yes, it does matter. But we need to be very cognizant of a couple of things. The biggest is which words are not decodable. 

I’ll give you an example right here. It has some simple sentences, and it has a couple of sight words that the kids wouldn’t be able to read. Nothing terrible. And 72% of it is decodable. But nine, there are nine new words here. We’ve got one that’s 76% decodable and there are four new words. If you look at the difference and the load that you’re going to have to front load for a child in order for them to read that book, it’s a lot more. It’s a bit more daunting when you’re looking at having to remember by heart: nine words versus four. 

Also, looking at the words that are the main word or that play heavily into the meaning. So, if it’s a word that is going to be difficult for them to identify and it’s something that’s going to give them the meaning of the story. We want to be cognizant of that. 

 This example might look familiar to some of you. It is like a pattern text. A lot of it is decodable. 76% decodable. But what you’ll see is that the last word; it most likely needs a picture or it needs the pattern. So, kids stop decoding “ten cats can” because they’ve heard it again and again and again. It’s not a great practice for practicing all the decodable skills they have. That being said, there is something for repeated reading. There’s a lot of studying going on with how that helps kids with fluency, and how it helps them with the automaticity of word recognition as far as once we’ve learned a phonics structure. So, I’m not saying that repeated reading isn’t, isn’t an effective practice. I’m saying that when we are practicing their decoding and blending skills based on their skill set, this is a difficult one. You’ll hear a lot that state standards say that the decodable text should be between 75% and 80% decodable. But, really, we need to, as the professionals, as the educators, as the parents, be looking at what is not decodable in a book. 

This brings us to the research and you might have heard this as well. There is not a huge amount of research in our field on what is a decodable book or on the effectiveness of decodable books. There’s actually a lot more from a long time ago, from the 1990s based in when phonics was the central piece in how we were teaching reading. And as we moved away from that, there wasn’t as much research and a lot of the research that was done didn’t have very large study sizes. They weren’t peer reviewed. And, so, it is difficult because, especially in a realm where I think it’s so important that we look to the evidence and the research, we need to also take what we know and do the best that we can with it. 

But, what all this points to is that when we are doing phonics instruction, kids need to be applying those skills in order to master them and become automatic. Also, the way that we ask children to read in the early parts is the way that they’re going to later. So, if I’m asking them to look at the words, and to focus on the text, and to use the skills that I’ve taught them in order to read, that’s going to be how they’re going to approach text moving forward. But, if I’m constantly putting them in positions where they have to guess, where there are lots of words that they can’t use their skills, or where they’re not getting to practice what I’m teaching them, they’re going to use the skills of a struggling reader which is guessing or making predictions based on meaning or what comes next instead of using the actual words. 

What we do know is there’s a lot of research about how people learn how to read, how that works in the brain. What is the composition of or what does a brain look like for a strong reader. What does it look like for a struggling reader. And, so, when I say, we have to take what we know and do the best…

What I’m aiming at is that when we look at the brain, and we understand the various parts, understanding that we need to know that words are made up of sounds, then eventually we can pull those sounds apart or put them together, and we can identify the spellings that are connected to each one of those. Then, we start taking it down in the occipital lobe into what we now call the “letter box.” It’s where your brain maps it so that you can automatically pull it based on letter strings and patterns. When we know that this process occurs, and this is how we eventually attend to text, we know that kids need to learn the phonics. They need to learn the sound structures. They need to attach that to the spellings, and they need to practice that. In saying that kids need to be practicing using the phonic skills, one of the best, most effective ways is by using decodable text or decodable books. 

All of this being said, which decodable books do I need? Again, like I said, we’re not going to be talking about which series you need, because I think there are, there are lots of options right now, which again, I’m so pleased about because it’s such an effective resource. But, we’re going to be talking about the mechanics, the scope and sequence, sight words, format, and the three D’s which I will get to. 

The mechanics are the things that you’re looking at in decodable books. When you’re looking to find this series or multiple series that fit, you are looking at the phonics, the sight words, and the format. So, in the phonics, we’re talking about the regular sound spellings, the pieces that you’re teaching kids now. It might eventually be an irregular one, but that’s much further on then. Sight words are the irregular sound spellings; it’s words that we maybe map out for kids. We’ll talk about that later. But it’s words that are spelled in a way that they aren’t often spelled. And the phonics structures that have yet to be learned. An example would be that in Step 2, when we’re teaching short vowels and blends, we use the word SEE. It has a vowel team, which isn’t taught until Step 5, but in order to make sense and make an interesting story, we pull that one in, and it’s something that we identify. I might even introduce what that phonics is. But I’m not expecting children to remember. And then format. Now, this is really where I say this really depends on the specific child we’re talking about. We’re talking about age, we’re talking about interest, we’re talking about maybe neurological needs. So overstimulation, visual overstimulation or if a child, you know, can read lots of text at once, but just doesn’t have the phonics capabilities. 

This really depends on the specific child that we’re talking about. The magical key to any decodable books though is the scope and sequence. You can ask any company for the scope and sequence of their books, and it’ll be either a document or a set of documents, and it’ll explain what is included in those books or how you would find what book fits the needs of your child or your students. So, here, you know, and these are all different companies. 

Every single one has a very specific set of instructions on what is in those steps of books or levels of books or whatever. However, they phases is one of the ways we explain it. But so that, you know, what needs to have been taught or needs to be identified before a child reads that book. 

This is from Aligned Decodables. If I wanted to read the book, I Can, I would look and see that these are the basic sound spellings that I need to have taught in order to do it. If I’m currently working on short /e/, I’m not going to use this book. But if I’m working on /a/ and /i/, this would be a great one. 

Then looking at DOG ON A LOG books, Nan Fam, we’ve got these sounds. Now, there are a lot of overlapping. I’ll go back to this between here and here. So maybe I’m picking and choosing based on some other factors, be it interest or format. But I’m looking for with that scope and sequence, the specific set that our kids need to know. 

So Duck Has a Nest comes from our [Express Readers’] Step 2, which means kids need to know all the basic sound-spellings. And they also then need to be working with longer words. Step 2 for us has blends. There’s no new sounds, but there’s just more of them per word. So, I might have four or five phonemes in a word five six, but they’re all the basic sound spellings. A child needs to know everything that’s in green here as well as be working on what’s in yellow. 

And this is a much more in-depth view from our in-depth scope and sequence. And so kids need to have known that whole alphabet, but they need to be working on ending blends and double letter blends. I know I’m going to get the question, “Why is CK a double letter blend in our program?” We talk about it acting/behaving like a double letter blend because C and K make the same basic sound. So it’s just like LL, we only say it one time. 

Then, here with Phonics Books just to show you an another example. When I’m looking at this book 4, I’m looking at the suffix ED. We need to have worked with multiple phonemes and the short vowels and all of the basic letter sounds. Once you start understanding how to look at the scope and sequence and how to kind of identify, OK, “What have I taught in my class? And how does it attach to this?” It becomes easier, although it looks daunting at first. 

When we talk about sight words, the general definition is words that can be read upon sight. So, something that’s super automatic that you read accurately every time. This is a general description in decodable books and in programs a lot. Sight words are irregularly sound, irregular sound spellings like I said before or the phonic structures that have not yet been learned. So it’ll be the words that we need to know on sight or that we cannot use our skill set to decodable. And this is, you know, of course, all words want to be sight words, we want to have mapped and stored and be accurate and automatic with all words. Sight words can have multiple different meanings. But really when we’re looking at a decodable book, it’s, it’s the ones that our kids can’t use their skills to decodable. 

So any program you look at here, we’ve got Aligned Decodables, Whole Phonics, you can reading all of them have a way that they talk about these kinds of words. They might have a different, they might call it something different. We’ve got high-frequency words because high-frequency are words that you see a lot which makes sense and then you’ve got, I like this, the “out-of-sequence words.” So those skills haven’t been taught yet. And then we have sight words. So every program will have a way to show you what that is. And that’s another characteristic in decodable books. What’s important is that we are identifying for kids before they read a book, what it is that they cannot use their skills to read. 

In our program [Express Readers], we use sticky words. So because it’s a word that you get stuck on and it’s on the very first page. So kids read it or, or we point it out to them before they ever even get into that book. In a sense too, we’re trying to help kids be confident by saying you have the skills to read this book but not these words yet. So it’s ok, we’re giving them the, the grace that they deserve when they’re coming across something that we haven’t taught them the skills to decode. 

And so you’ll see in a more in depth scope and sequence, we identify the words that, that you need to note in order to read these books. And you’ll see with a lot of programs, a lot of these sight words, sticky words, high frequency words that are used in the early books repeat. So we’re helping kids to see that again and again and again. And so, although we’ve helped identify what’s irregular about it they’re having more practice with those words. 

And when I took that format, this is the more subjective side of it. So one of the pieces might be the number of words, how many words are on a page? If you get children that are overwhelmed, super easily or at the beginning of their journey, we want to make sure that there aren’t as many words per page. The reason being not only can they be successful with a page rather quickly seeing, you know, having a less abstract experience with phonics. So they’re using what they know they’ve accomplished a page. Also, it helps as far as length of sentence because if it is laborious for you to decodable a word or a lot of words, it will take you a long time to get through that sentence. And so the meaning gets lost it, it’s harder to provide meaning when you’re decoding every single word. So the less that there are the better in that case. 

Now, then these are three great series that, that are often times used with older readers because their ability to look at more text and approach more text or needing continued practice with a certain phonic skill set, but not needing it in a way that’s for a young child anymore. So this has more words and you need to decide whether your kids are at the stage where they need less on a page or more on a page. So these all have the same similar phonics, but they are just done in different formats. 

You need to look at picture location. So in some books you’ll see it being on an opposite page or you’ll see it on being on a page where you can’t even see the picture yet. And sometimes you’ll see it very distinguished beneath the text or above the text, but not within it. I do think that it can be difficult when a child is struggling to read or just beginning to do it to have it be embedded in the picture. I remember when I was early in my teaching and I was trying to find decodable books and the decodable books, some of the ones that I did find the writing was within the picture and very, very tiny and it makes it very difficult for the kids to pick out the actual phonics they’re supposed to be practicing if they’re searching for the words. This is great. 

This is a decodable graphic novel. This is this, I would say would be format when you’re deciding upon interest level. Now, we have a lot of kids who stay within a certain realm of phonics for a long time or maybe have really high abilities in other areas and, are still just struggling with this specific set of phonics. How do we get their attention? They don’t want to feel like something is silly or too easy. And so something like this is great because you’re engaging kids in something that’s a lot like a comic book. And, and allowing them to approach reading in a different way. 

The basic, which decodable books do I need? We look at what phonic structures and sight words have they already learned, has a child or your class or your students already learned. Then we put in, you know, we’re focused, the current focus is on what they’re currently practicing. So a lot of that is going to be what they’re currently practicing. I might not put a ton new sight words that they’re practicing. But a couple and then we really need to slow our roll when we get to the ones that they haven’t learned yet. 

Just to show if we’re looking at this, the same scope and sequence, I’m sorry, this looks a little confusing, but it’s three of the same scope and sequence. I’m going to put in a lot of what they already know because in that way, I’m scaffolding, I’m allowing a lot of practice. I’m allowing them to continue to feel successful by practicing what they have already learned and then including a couple of things that are going to make them slowdown a bit, they’re probably going to take them a little bit longer, but I’m not going to put in a lot of what they don’t know yet. It’s going to cause failure and, and undue stress really, it’s like, let’s say you’re, I’ve said it and I know a lot of people have said it actually, it’s like riding a bike. So I’m not going to put my kid that has just learned how to sit on a bike. I’m not going to put them on that bike and shove them without training wheels and say, “go.” I’m going to slowly work my way into it and I’m going to give them the help that they need to get to, to moving fast on their own. 

So here’s the three Ds. This is just kind of a fun little way that I, I describe some of it when you’re looking at decodable books. You look at decodability. Basically the scope and sequence, how, how decodable is this for my students for this group of students for, for my child. And then depth. So really looking, does it make sense? I read a phonics book the other day with my son. He’s a struggling reader going into second grade and the storyline didn’t make any sense and I really struggled with helping him to feel like he was successful with actual reading because the story was kind of nonsense. So really looking to make sure that the stories make sense that, that you can giggle or laugh or have a conversation or something of that sort with that story because all reading doesn’t I mean, just because it’s decodable, doesn’t mean it needs to be plain or, simple, too simple and delight. Well, they like it. So you’ve got your books that have kids in them. Maybe they identify with some of the kids. They really like the story, they follow a certain child, ours have animals. So, you know, we’re really focusing on the personality traits and, and maybe they like a specific animal or, you know, like I showed you earlier the graphic decodable graphic novel. How do we engage kids in reading? Because all, just because we’re saying it’s decodable doesn’t mean it needs to be boring, especially now. This is the great part about what’s happening right now in education is that so many people are coming out with a series of books. 

So now I have my decodable books. Now, a lot of these topics are going to be covered in future webinars. So I, I’m going to go over them right now and, and kind of give a bit of suggestion but, but we’ll go over them, identify more about them later. We will talk about pre-reading and the basic uses. 

So pre-reading, what I always say about decodable books is there are a couple of things you need to do. Whether you are just looking at it yourself, whether you are preparing it for a small group or, or reading, even with just your child at home, you need to see what the phonics are in it. Can I use that? Can I talk to my kids about it? Can I use it in a lesson? You need to look at the sight words. So which words do I need to identify before? Do some of them match what this child or these students have already learned? And also vocabulary words because vocabulary does not just mean long words, it does not mean that you are only learning you know, 10 syllable words. It can be the different uses of, of one specific word. It changes the meaning of sentences we read. So by using every book, we come across to help our kids with language acquisition, we’re just helping them be that much more successful. 

So with the phonics, I would look at like this is a sneaky E book, I would look at long I, how do we spell it? What words is it in? I would make sure that either my lesson or my review lesson came before this book or if this is a practice book, it’s something that that child has already been reading with for a while. and you know, using picking those words out because the more times that we can ask kids to scan a text for a specific phonic structure, the more they start to recognize it. So they start to look for it. And if it’s one that they have just learned this is great because we’re helping them identify what it looks like. See it again, use it in a word making it less abstract. 

Looking at this one, sorry, looking at the Simple Words, books, looking at blends, taking a book that has maybe a couple different phonics that that child has worked with. Already identifying what those are having kids write those words, using them in dictation. 

But making sure that we’re focusing on the phonics in the book sight words. Obviously, we, we talked about, you know, whether it’s high frequency words out of sequence words, sight words, helping kids identify what are going to be the words, maybe even mapping those words. So showing them what word like here we, we use puts, well P U T those all, make the sound that the, their most basic sound, but the U says /ʊ/, so it’s off. But if I identify that for kids, they start to see that at when they look at this word. obviously, when, when kids will get to this, a lot of times they’ll say pots, which is correct and I’ll say to you to a child. That’s correct. You’re right. That is exactly how it should sound. Unfortunately, it’s not how it sounds and this is why, and then vocabulary words. 

So here, I’ve shown you an example that has two words that are actually very simple words. But if a child doesn’t have a large vocabulary of their own or if they are building theirs by identifying words that have multiple meanings behind them. 

Well, there’s multiple ways for each of those to be used by previewing a couple of words that you looked through the book, defining those words, saying, what does it mean? What is the actual definition? Can it be used more than one way? Is there more than one meaning and then segmenting or decoding those words? I would say after the book, if you are in an educational setting, maybe not at home in the sense that not as like when you’re enjoying listening to your child read or show you what they know having children write those words using those that word. 

After the fact, there are many basic uses for decodable books: small groups, differentiated instruction, shared, reading, home to school connections, book bins and practice spaces and decodable libraries. 

We’ll start with small groups. We are having a webinar. This is our next one, but, but skills-based reading instruction. I know a lot of teachers in, in what is happening in education when we’re saying, we’re moving to more of the skill-based reading instruction that doesn’t mean that you can’t have these small groups where you get to have more time with specific kids. There’s a more personal attention, you have the opportunity for informal assessment by listening to your kids’ reading by, by interacting with them immediately when, when they need that feedback and by using books that they can actually, they, themselves, read in groups that, that are doing shared reading comprehension and activities. And all of the things that we identify with a small, a small group, but we can do that using a decodable book and put an emphasis on the specific skills that those kids are working on differentiated instruction. 

This can mean multiple things we are having again, another webinar on this one. It can be using just like we were talking about in small groups. It can be having multiple small groups that have a different, a different book use in a different set of skills in each one. It can be using books at different skill levels for the same use. So if maybe I am talking about opinion and I want the kids to all go read and write a piece about their opinion and we’re talking about personal feelings that I mean, I’m just giving an example, but I would give each child a book that they themselves could actually read and then do the activity. So differentiating various activities based on what that child can read or that set of kids can read using it for different, different reasons So I might use like here are two books, the Rex Runs Off series and Hot Chips Mad Fish. They both have basic phonics, but they’re two different kinds. So I would be using these in two different ways. I would differentiate based on the type of activity that I would use it for, but it might have the same skill set. Something like Sortegories which, which I feel lucky enough, they’re going to be involved with our differentiated instruction, webinar using decodable text to help kids at various levels because we all know that our classrooms are not uniform. If, if they were, this would be a lot easier, we would be having a lot less of these conversations. Being in a classroom, we all know how important it is to meet our kids where they are at and obviously to, to push them and, and help them take safe risks. But, but to help them from where they are and especially after the pandemic, the, the levels are so they vary so greatly in, in a lot of our younger grades that we really need to be aware and cognizant of, utilizing these materials in different ways to meet all those needs. 

The basic uses for shared reading. So shared reading is I mean, I think it’s essential if you are in classes, even at home because shared reading can be experiences that you have in the home. Whether you’re reading to your stuffed animals or you’re reading to your pet or you know, to, to grandma over there, whatever it might be. When you have shared reading experiences, whether you’re reading with somebody or you’re reading, to somebody, it allows for fluency practice. It allows for becoming confident with what you can do. Oftentimes, it helps with comprehension because as you become more fluent, you can attend more to the meaning than, than the mechanics. You know, there’s whisper reading, so reading out loud to yourself, or maybe whisper reading with a partner. You’ll see one of the examples here. This one of an amazing teacher, I know does flashlight Fridays and they use flashlights to, to read the words, the finger lights., but there’s, you know, ways to work with partners where you’re having fun with reading, but in different, different, applying it differently. And because I think one of the things that I know that I relied heavily on as a teacher was, drop everything and read, it was, the more we could get kids to read., the more access they had to text, the better readers they would be. Unfortunately, again, when we talk about silent reading, if a child is struggling to read or they are just learning, they are then just doing it silently. So we need to give them experiences where there’s someone else attending to what they’re doing, they’re getting to read out loud. But maybe not in a scary situation, like in front of the entire class, maybe they’re reading to a stuffed animal and I can listen, shared reading experiences are incredibly important. 

We will go over that in both the small group instruction and differentiated instruction home to school connections. This is so important and we are having a webinar for parents. This, this will be included. It’s for educators who are supporting parents and for parents. But using activities like these DOG ON A LOG printable activities that go along with a specific skill set that the child is reading a book and then playing a game that helps parents to understand, you know, the purpose of, of using what the kids are learning in class. I’ve got a bookmark here that helps parents to understand the ways that we approach words that we don’t know how, how do we move forward when we see a word that, that we get stuck on or whether it be like take home books. So I know a lot of teachers that actually have a library set up where they have baggies and they send home. The actual decodable books, sending home decodable books is extremely because when we have work as a team with parents or, or caregivers, we’re, we’re allowing kids to, we’re giving them the same message that reading does have to do with the words. And we’re being consistent and a lot of us know whether it’s from being an educator or being a parent that consistency matters for kids, it gives a message and it, and it secures it. So if we’re helping our parents, either to pick out these books or we’re sending them home, then our kids have the opportunity to not only be excited about what they’re learning by showing their success, but continue to practice the skills that they’re going to need for the rest of their academic career. 

Book bins or practice spaces. So and decodable libraries again, another webinar, I’m really excited. We’ll get to have Beth Bevers from the [Lodi] Literacy Hub. She’s going to help us out to understand some of what happens with her library and, and why that happens. But there are ways to organize books. I mean, we kind of, we get these books and now what now what do I do? Do I keep them in the box? Do I hand them out to kids? What can I do? I’ve given a couple of examples here, but one of them was a, a take home library. So it was book bags and the teacher used index cards and explained what the skill was and, you know, we have sheets. So during that webinar, we’re going to give you lots of take homes that you can send home with parents and ways to organize. There are a couple incredible foundations who are trying to help public libraries or schools, one of which being teach my kid to read, making the road to decode. But once you have those books, organizing them can be a little bit overwhelming. Some people do it by first by publisher and then by skill set or if you can find a way to merge them. So you’ve got, you know, if the scope and sequence are similar. So let’s say you pick three series that have a similar scope and sequence, then you can divide it up by the skill-set. And the book bins or private spaces, I will say, I know that a lot of schools still you have a book bin for a child and I, I think this is great, you know, there’s a set of books that the kids can go grab that that are fitting to them. 

Just to tell you kind of a personal story. My son came home at the beginning of the year and, and he knew all his basic letter sounds and CVC words and he’d been working very hard and he said, mama, I, well, because I can’t read and I said, what are you talking about? Of course, you can read, it’s just specific words. Well, I can’t read any of the books in my class or in my bin. There is a difference if there are books that are available or kids to look at, to explore, to enjoy or books that are being required to be read, so required for practice. So, if you’ve got a book bin and it just has books that are all interest, you know. I used to love all those books with little labels and little boxes on the side that explain the pictures. I mean, whatever it might be that, that your kids are into or are them put them in there and they like snakes, they got a lot of books with snakes in them. Maybe they want to look at the pictures, maybe they know some of the words, but it’s very clear that these are not books that you need to practice reading in because some of the words are a, are a more complex phonic structures that you’ll learn later. So, if you’re going to have a book in that they must read really looking into the decodable books, you’re not only helping those kids feel confident, but you’re showing them that they have a part in the literacy that’s happening in your classroom. So it’s very important. Obviously, you can tell it’s slightly personal for me. But, but we will go over more of that in the webinar onto decodable libraries. 

So, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this. I hope that you’ve gotten something from it. I hope that I was general enough that you, you have an idea of how to get started or if you’ve already started, please reach out to us. If you ever have any questions? I do want to say thank you to all of the incredible authors that put into this webinar and, and the ones that are coming in the series. There are a lot of, like I said, parents, educators, teachers, some of the same a lot of, a lot of people who are creating these books because they know how important this practice is. So even though we are still hopeful that more research is going to come out, we also, we’re, we’re doing the best with what we know and we know that kids need to learn the phonics and they need to learn how to build and, and decodable words and, and in doing that, there’s a lot of great authors out there putting together series and separate books. 

And so thank you to these. They will be on the website page that comes out with this webinar. There will be a quiz there that you can take and get a PD credit. It will send a message to us and we will send you a certificate. So in the next day or two that will go live on our website, but there will also be links to each one of these publishers. So if you saw something there that you like or you saw something that feels like it would fit you or your students, Please make sure to check it out and we’re just so excited. We’re so excited to have you. I’m sorry, I’m looking at a question. 

We did have one question about the graphic the decodable graphic novel that was Sue Marasciulo. She has two of them out now and the link that will provide us to Amazon but Hot Chips and Mad Fish is the one that we’re showing right here. So, but please, if you see something and I haven’t explained it or I haven’t given you direction, please go ahead and contact us. 

So this is I’m going to, oh, I apologize. I did explain this a little more. We are going to have the website. We’re going to have a quiz that you can take. We’re also going to give you the printable quiz. So if you want to look over the video again and, and make sure you get all those answers, although they won’t be too difficult. And then we’re going to have the rest of our series. It is all up on our website right now. You can register for any of those and here’s a QR code. So you feel free to scan for free samples of the express reader books, which you can also find on our website, a lot of places will give you free samples. It’s a great way to check out what books fit you and what you like. So thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it. You taking the time to learn more about this resource as, as it really is truly essential and effective for our kiddos.

Decodable Book Webinar Series

Webinar #1: Let’s Get Started!

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