When we become adults it’s hard to imagine that one day quite a long time ago we might not have been able to read. Reading always came easy for me. I was devouring books by the hundreds each year of my elementary years. And my elementary years were during what I call sarcastically, the dark ages. I never struggled with reading. In fact I don’t even remember being in reading groups though I’m sure I was in the “bluebirds” and not the “crows”. Reading instruction has changed a lot since I was in school and so much for the better. There are good books for kids at all levels and so many better strategies. But there are still kids who struggle with reading, the letters in a word just don’t come together and make sense or reading English text is difficult because it’s not the language they speak at home.
If you walked by my class when I was teaching reading you might see one or two kids sitting at the computer while the rest of the class was enjoying independent reading or a book discussion with me. The kids at the computer were still “reading” but they were seeing, hearing and doing reading. At the beginning of this year I used one of my very favorite sites for reading with Kindergarteners when they came to me for technology class, Starfall. Kindergarten lab time is limited so I needed something engaging as well as educational. For their first couple of class times they didn’t even touch the computers. Instead they sat in front of the Smartboard taking turns interacting with the Starfall site. Starfall is the perfect site for whole class at an interactive board and just as perfect for the K-1st grader that needs review and engaging play and practice with letter sounds. I even have 3rd graders that will ocassionally go to some of the activities on Starfall. But for the younger kids it’s a place for them to be when the regular teaching strategies are causing frustration and they just don’t get it. We don’t want any child to end up hating reading!