Grounding for Word Recognition

Often, a student can read words in isolation better than words in lines of print. Usually when this occurs, the student has an eye-tracking problem. Grounding prepares the student to read by breaking the reading task down. In effect, you are providing the foundation for successful reading. Use Grounding for beginning readers and for older readers who are not experiencing success.

Step 1: Point To . . .

As you look at the first paragraph or page with an individual student, ask your student to identify specific words by saying, “Find the word ______.” Hold a blank piece of paper or a ruler under each line of print as you proceed down the page.

  • Look for words in each line that may stump the student.
  • If the student cannot read a word, ask the student if s/he can read any part of the word. When the student needs help, state the word.
  • Moving one line at a time, continue checking difficult words. Skip some lines in lengthy passages.
  • Stop at the end of the first paragraph or page and begin the next step.

 Step 2: Silent Reading

Ask the student to read the same paragraph or page silently. (A very young child will mumble when reading silently.) Instruct the student to look for any unknown words and to ask for assistance.

  • If the child cannot read a word, even with help from you, say the word for the child.
  • Present a short mini-lesson on the skill needed to decode the unknown word. Perhaps you can point out context clues, a phonics rule, or sentence structure.

 Step 3: Oral Reading

After giving the child time to read silently and assisting with unknown words, ask the child to read orally. Note miscues (mistakes), fluency, and confidence. Ideally, the child will read accurately and smoothly. If the child continues to struggle, offer reading material of comparable difficulty written in large print on a chart or chalkboard. Often, unsuccessful readers can succeed at a much higher grade-level when offered large print on a vertical surface. If the student continues to struggle, drop to an easier reading level.

The ability to read well after grounding or with large print indicates that reading is not the problem. In these cases, difficulties probably stem from erratic eye movements, poor fixation, or lack of confidence. Given enough daily practice with large print (a minimum of once a day for three weeks), the student’s eyes may adjust to smaller print.

 Note: If the student continues to struggle even when the print is enlarged, drop to an easier reading level.