The Problem Looks Like…
An emergent reader is not reading every word. Sometimes they skip words. Sometimes they add extra words. They do not notice the mismatch between voice and print.
Correct skipped or inserted words by noticing beginning letters and pointing.
It’s Related to…
One to One Match
One to one match means a reader demonstrates understanding that for each word spoken there is a corresponding word in the text. This seems too obvious for an experienced reader, however an emergent reader will frequently mismatch one to one. Their eyes are unskilled at noticing the spaces marking the boundaries of a word. Coordinating the voice with the eyes is a difficult skill to develop.
In the book “Turn the Page…It’s Fun: A Concepts of Print Story” by Connie Dickison, the concept of word is introduced by telling the learner, “Words have spaces on both sides.”
Monitoring One to One Match by Looking at Beginning Letters
Early readers can monitor one to one match using the beginning letter of each word. However, some new readers are not confident of which letter is the first letter. When clear word boundaries are not yet established, the emergent reader may not be able to locate and isolate the first letter. Their thinking may be “Where is the first letter? I’m not sure where words are yet.”
⦁ Use two slips of paper to isolate one word.
⦁ Use two fingers to isolate one word.
⦁ Move on to two words.
⦁ Use two slips of paper or two fingers to isolate the first letter of a word.
Eventually with repetition, modeling and instruction, one to one match solidifies and the reader directs attention to the first letter of words with more confidence.
Finger Pointing in Early Reading
⦁ Early readers use their finger to point at each word as a way to self-monitor one to one match.
⦁ Pointing facilitates clear match of voice to word.
⦁ It is also a window into the reader’s understanding of word and their use of word spaces to move through print.
⦁ Lapses in one to one match are common in early acquisition.
⦁ Insistence on clear one to one pointing is helpful to establish word to voice match.
However, as soon as the reader can demonstrate understanding of a word,
⦁ The full-time finger pointing should be encouraged to disappear.
⦁ There are times when a learner needs to look more closely at print. At these times, it is useful and natural to point in order to take a closer look.
⦁ Once past the difficult part, the finger no longer points.
⦁ Skilled readers have flexible use of finger pointing. When reading is easy, there is no need to point. When reading becomes tricky or requires closer visual inspection, use of a pointing finger is natural and useful.
Which Finger Does the Pointing?
I have observed new readers use nearly every finger on each hand as the pointing finger. I have observed the same reader switching between several fingers on either hand. It is my belief that in early acquisition, when one to one movement is not yet established and the full-time use of a pointing finger is purposeful.
⦁ Just one dominant index finger is used.
⦁ Pointing is not alternating right and left hand index fingers, nor is it pointing above each word.
Just the index finger, on the dominant hand, pointing underneath each word.
⦁ In my observations, all other kinds of pointing generally add to the confusion of one to one match and left to right movement across text.
Now That’s Better…
Readers use just a dominant finger to point at every word until one to one match becomes under their control. Then, they move to pointing at just the difficult words or parts of words. Their eyes are processing print efficiently enough to notice mismatch between printed and spoken word. Insertions and skipped words are less frequent, self-correction of errors more frequent.