Wednesday. H. has struggled for the last three lessons with consonant clusters at the end of words. He has no trouble with CVC words like ‘bun’ but give him ‘bunt’ and he goes back to guessing – with errors on the prefix, the suffix, and even the vowel. I pulled them up again this morning and… PERFECT.
Well, almost perfect. He still struggled with the clusters but the vowels were perfect, which indicates that he is sounding out instead of using his visual memory to read. A few minutes of drilling and the consonants started to settle down. We tried clusters in the prefix position (‘flit’, ‘plan’) and they were quickly mastered. By the time we finished our 20 minutes of drills, H. was smoothly nailing short-vowel words with clusters in both the prefix and suffix positions, like the ones below.
In the next few days Blending will cover words with ‘r’ in the prefix such as ‘brand’ (a common source of difficulty), /ch/ /th/ /sh/ digraphs, long vowels with ?_e spellings (‘make’, ‘bike’), and the nce/nge endings.
We moved on to reading Goosebumps, and focused on comprehension. We kept stopping and visualizing the story, pulling up images from the internet, and playing out the action being described. These seemed to really help. I realized that H. didn’t know what fangs were (other than teeth), seeing a picture of a vampire wielding them made a big difference.
After our break, we sat with a graphics novel – some 1940 Archie cartoons that I had lying around. We worked though ‘cartoon literacy’, the idea that the picture held a great deal and had to be ‘read’ together with the words. Without the pictures, you can’t see who is talking, where they are, what they are doing, or how they feel – all you get from the text is the dialog. Yesterday H. wasn’t reading the pictures, today it started to make a lot more sense. Just a skill, and we can teach skills.
Then H. and I skipped out to visit bookstores. We stopped at BMV at Yonge/Eglinton, one of my favorites, and picked up a few anthologies of old comic books. These are about 200 pages each, representing about two dozen comic books from the ‘Golden Age’. These were the comics I read as a teenager. H. says he will ask one of his brothers to read his comics with him, but I suspect he’ll manage pretty well on his own.
And into the Indigo across the street for new Goosebumps. While we picked out a few, I chatted about how some Goosebumps were for younger kids and not really scary. H. is in grade 8, he let me know that didn’t think Goosebumps was scary at all. So I talked about how I couldn’t read Stephen King novels, they creeped me out. He wanted to see one. We asked a store assistant where they were.
Mehmet figured us out instantly. He took us to the horror section, while chattering to H. about his favorite writers – for example that H. would never be able to stand a dripping faucet after reading H.P. Lovecraft. That some books made you want to turn on more lights and find a brighter part of the room, you were sure someone was breathing on your neck. H. was hooked.