Understanding the Reading Process … Sources of Information, Strategies and Prompting, Oh My! (part 1)

Before diving into “doing” guided reading in your classroom, it is important to learn about, or reacquaint yourself with, the reading process. I’ve had many years of learning about the reading process and teaching reading, however, I often go back and re-read some of my favorite professional books and new books so that I can keep my thinking grounded in research.

The act of reading is much more than just decoding; it is a complex process of making meaning from a variety of symbols and conversations (Clay) … it is a combo of decoding, fluency, and comprehension … it is about the behaviors and strategies readers do and use at any particular level in order to navigate through a text with success and understanding.

MSV … and the Process of Reading

If you are a teacher who uses running records, DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), mClass TRC (Text Reading Comprehension), QRI-5 (Qualitative Reading Inventory 5th edition) etc. then you have heard of MSV! I have had teachers ask me, “Why do I have to MSV this running record?” I have also had teachers tell me that they have a love/hate relationship with MSVing … well don’t we all!!??

So … let’s get reacquainted with MSV. Readers use three primary sources of information or cues when reading text: Meaning, Structure and/or Visual cues. Readers use meaning to monitor and make sense of the text they are reading. Readers use their knowledge of language structure to verify that what they are reading sounds right … this is often considered the grammar or book language. Readers use visual cues to make sure that what they are reading looks right … Does what they said match what their eyes see on the page? (grapho-phonics or letter/sound association)
Graphics and Fonts by Graphics by the Pond and Hello Fonts
It’s important to help our students understand the reading process right from the start. The best way to do this is by using the gradual release of responsibility model and explicitly model through showing and telling how to use all three sources of information and strategies. The heart of this model is student engagement and having time for application with a teacher’s scaffolds and support. Guided Reading is the perfect vehicle for this! I always remind myself that it is important to give thoughtful attention to the level of help a child needs and then decide if I need to model/teach of prompt for an action. Remember … you can’t prompt for what you haven’t taught for and they haven’t demonstrated knowledge of the behavior.
Grab the PDF of this graphic here
As adult readers, we use all of these sources without thinking about it. The ultimate goal for our readers is to use these cues (MSV) quickly and automatically. We also want them to understand that when one source of information breaks down, we immediately try another to gain meaning from the text.

Happy Reading!

For more information on Running Records and MSV go to Learn NC

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