From the Field: Message Time Plus & Building Reading Skills

This article is the first of an ongoing series entitled From the Field. Short, inspiring and heart-warming classroom anecdotes contributed by our professional developers as they work in classrooms across the country. Names of teachers and students have been changed.

In the beginning of the school year, little Julie was a new kindergartner in Ms. Smith’s classroom. Julie was always eager to learn new ideas. However, she did not always have the schema and skill set to pull from to support her reading. The first time seeing her was during a guided reading lesson in which she struggled to recall onsets introduced for the week and one syllable sight words. She was placed in a guided reading group for struggling readers.

As the year progressed, Ms. Smith steadily practiced implementing the MTP model daily into her literacy block with a new message. One wonderful component about the method is that it gives all students the opportunity to learn in a whole group setting while at the same time, allowing for each student to be challenged at their proximal developmental level.

Today was a great day to observe in Ms. Smith’s class. The year is now coming to a close, and the students were very excited to participate with their teacher once more for another great interactive learning session. She began her MTP message discussing comparing and contrasting the Three Little Pigs and used sight words such as “what”, “put”, “could”, “that” and “of”, along with juicy high level words such as “character” and “materials.”

Then it was little Julie’s turn to choose a sight word. Julie walked up to the MTP board and exclaimed, “Can I pick a juicy word?” Ms. Smith replied, “Sure, go ahead.” Confidently she touched the word “character” and said with a smile “Character!” Now, only six short months after beginning to learn her letter sounds, accompanied with the daily opportunity to sound out, interact with shared writing, and watch new sentences formed by her teacher through MTP, Julie is no longer timid when trying to sound out new words. She’s now reading on level and attempting to read high level vocabulary words. Little Julie who is full of character is well on her way to becoming a lifelong reader.

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