When students have fallen behind in word recognition and struggle to make sense of print at the word level, reading often becomes quite frustrating as they observe their peers enjoying much more sophisticated books. Their classroom guided reading lessons, while empowering them with good reader strategies that will serve them well as they become more proficient readers, are not going to rocket them up to grade level fast enough. They need some intensive shared reading along with their five-minute Rime Magic sessions (See Chapter 10 in the Rime Magic Teacher’s Guide). TO WITH BY supports students in closing the gap quickly, increasing confidence and motivation to read. Teachers have been amazed at their students’ fast progress when, alongside Rime Magic, students read books, with support, that they have chosen but are out of reach (frustration level). It is most often the case that students receiving this treatment catch up significantly within days or weeks of the start of the intervention. TO WITH BY is effective and engaging with small groups, one-on-one, or whole class.
Kindergarten students and any primary-grade students who remain emerging readers when most of their classmates are zooming ahead will benefit from TO WITH BY to give them a jump start. Bring them to your reading table as a small group and read high-interest, predictable books to and with them. I like to use Bella and Rosie books, published by xxxxx, because young children fall in love with the two adorable dogs as they move from Level A all the way to Level M. Rather than a copy for each student, you only need one book at a time for the group. Students who are not yet recognizing or naming letters will learn the letters and the one-to-one correspondence of words as you read the books to and with them one at a time, enjoying the content, asking them here and there how they know that word is tree, for example. They will begin to say, “Because it starts with a t!” Each day as they congregate at the reading table, have all of the books that are familiar to them spread out for five minutes of independent reading, each student with a different book, then trading, reading as many as possible, pointing to the words. Then introduce a few more of the books. When they have become comfortable reading Levels A – D, they are ready for TO WITH BY using Arnold Lobel’s Small Pig and Frog and Toad books.
Obviously, Small Pig will be at a frustration level for these students. Read one or two pages to them first, then read those pages together two or three times, and finally have students read the pages as a group. Start again and do two more pages using the same technique. Before you know it, they will be reading the entire book with a partner, amazed at themselves! Third-graders who are reading at first/early second-grade level will catch up quickly practicing TO WITH BY using the Frog and Toad books, then moving on to any book, fiction or non-fiction that is out of reach but high interest. Offer high interest books and articles to upper-grade students and have them choose which they would prefer to read.
The Magic of Book Choice
Book choice is central to the TO WITH BY strategy and should be a central element of every classroom. Students are much more likely to be engaged and experience success if they have choices. If you are providing Frog and Toad books, ask students which story they would like to read first. Or bring in books from the library on several interesting subjects. If students choose the book on sharks, ask them which section they would like to read. If you are working with one student, ask him what he wishes he could read. Confidence with go through the roof!
Always keep the focus on comprehension by asking questions that do not have a specific answer, such as “Why do you think she did that?” or “What do you think will happen next?”
The reading selections should always be at a frustration level while being of high interest to students. Students with processing issues will require more time, while students who have fallen behind for other reasons often catch up in a matter of weeks when TO WITH BY is paired with Rime Magic.