Putting It All Together Sessions Putting It All Together

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Putting It All Together


  • Language Experience

  • Materials

  • Lesson Planning



  • Tutors will participate in a demonstration Language Experience lesson.

  • Tutors will discuss ways in which Language Experience vocabulary may be used in additional tutoring activities.

Handout 5.1 - Language Experience
The Language Experience Story
Exercises for Beginning Readers
Use all of the following nine steps with the beginning readers. As the example handout 5.4 illustrates, the story need not be long. Sometimes the language experience will not be more than one or two sentences long.
1. Invite student to tell a story or personal experience, or use one of the suggestions from Handout 5.2 and 5.3: Ideas for Experience Stories.
2. Tutor writes the story, word for word, as dictated.
3. Tutor reads the story, pointing to words.
4. Tutor and student, together, read the entire story, pointing to words.
5. Tutor and student read the first sentence together. Student then reads this sentence alone.
6. This process is repeated with each of the remaining sentences until the story is completed.
7. Tutor asks comprehension questions based on the story. Student reads the part of I the story that answers each question.

8. Student copies story into notebook to take home, to practice reading and writing.

9. Tutor keeps a copy for rewriting and making exercises.


  1. To integrate the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

  2. To see one's oral language in printed form, thereby making a meaningful sound-symbol correlation.

  3. To develop a beginning reading vocabulary.

  4. To assure comprehension because the words and concepts are learner-generated.


Language Experience (LE) stories can result from shared tutor-student activities (such as a walk) or from the learner's personal experiences. Suggested sources for topics are: photographs or pictures (especially those belonging to the student), a recent experience, childhood memories, a movie or television program, music, an interview with someone, a mystery object in box or bag, personal opinion(s) about a relevant topic, a personal problem that needs to be discussed or solved, etc.

1. Encourage the student to choose topics that interest her. The more the student talks about her life, the more she will be generating vocabulary that she really should be able to read.
2. Sit next to (not across from) the student for the lesson. Print the stories on notebook-sized paper or on a large newsprint pad.
3. The student dictates phrases or sentences to the tutor, who records them exactly as they have been dictated. The tutor does not correct grammatical errors at this time, although the student may self-correct and make changes any time during the LE process. There is no attempt by the tutor to add, change, or rearrange words.
4. The tutor reads to the student what has been written.

5. Student and tutor read the story together. During this process, you will be able to tell if your student is having trouble with a particular word or pronunciation. Read the story with the student until you feel she is able to read it independently with success.

6. Have the student read the story by herself. Allow the student a choice of reading silently or aloud

during this phase.

  1. The student may wish to copy the story for home reading.

8. The tutor makes a mental or written note of problems with vocabulary, syntax, etc. to be covered in later lessons, but not as part of Language Experience.

9. Tutor makes a corrected version (typed or printed) of the story. The student may wish to compare the tutor's version with the original in a notebook for future rereading.

  1. These words and concepts can now be used in other tutor-created stories and reading materials.

Handout 5.2 – Language Experience
Ideas for Experience Stories
Use Directed Questions
1. Here are a few examples:

If you could have three wishes in life, what would they be? Why?

What is your favorite hobby? Describe it.

Explain the type of work you do. What parts of it do you like, and what parts do you dislike?

What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you?

Describe one of your funniest moments.

What's the best thing/time that's happened in your life?

What's the worst thing/time that's happened in your life?

Write a story about your family/spouse/son/daughter.

Have you ever made a mistake in life? Tell me about a memorable one.

If there is anything you could change in your life, what would it be? Why?

If you had an unlimited amount of time and money, where would you like to vacation?

What do you like about the President's/Governor's recent performance?

What was the best choice that you've made in the last 5 years?

What is your favorite sports team?

2. Take a picture from a magazine, newspaper, a poster, etc. and ask your student to tell a story about it.
3. For some students, you may want to use incomplete sentences as paragraph starters. Most directed questions from section one can be made into an incomplete sentence if your student is more comfortable that way. For example:
"What's your favorite hobby?" can be reworded as "My favorite hobby is...."

"I like..." "I dislike..." "I fear..." "I admire..." "I believe..."

"I love..." "I want..." "I hate..." "I trust..." "I think..."
4. Read a story that interests your student and, as you go along, ask him to summarize the story. This technique is good in helping to strengthen comprehension. Use newspaper articles, magazines, or a book chosen by your student.
5. Ask your student to retell a movie or TV plot that interests him. You can follow this up in another class by reading together from the newspaper or TV guide.
6. If your student enjoys music, ask him to dictate the words from one of his favorite songs. Copy the words and use it as an experience story.
Language Experience Variations
1. Omitted endings: Read a story to the student. As the story unfolds, periodically ask the student to predict what will happen next. Ask, "Why do you think so?" Do not read the ending; instead, have the student dictate or write an ending.
2. Sequencing: Find pictures or photographs that portray a sequence of events. Have the student put them in the correct sequence and dictate a story.

Have the student describe an activity (such as cooking, fixing a flat tire, etc.) that is done in sequence. Use these steps for a LE story.

3. Independent Writing: Encourage your student to write stories by herself and "read" them back to you. Early versions will be written with "invented" spellings (student-created), but this is an

important step if the student is to believe that her language has value. If desired, corrected

versions can be typed or written by you for future rereading.
4. Clustering: Put a word in the center of a piece of paper. Ask the student to say anything that

comes into her mind concerning the word. The student can dictate or independently write a

paragraph/story using any of the words she wishes. (This is a good way to encourage independent

writing, for much of the vocabulary for the story will already be written).

5. Using Multisensorv Stimuli: Play a musical selection and encourage the student to use imagery to create a story. (Music from films is especially effective for this activity. Don't use music with

Provide an aromatic food or beverage (e.g. an orange, hot chocolate) and ask the student to tell

about a memory or feeling that is associated with the smell.
Ask the student to describe how it feels to engage in favorite physical activity (such as dancing,

jogging, etc.)

Go outside or to a new environment. Have the student close her eyes and tell about what she

hears, smells, etc.

Suggested Topics for Student Writing

My first fight. My idea of a perfect school is…

My most embarrassing moment. How I would invest a thousand dollars.

The most stupid thing I ever did. If I could be an animal for a day, I would be…

The wisest thing I ever did. The finest movie I have ever seen is…

My most serious accident. My favorite season is...

Things I have lost. My dream vacation.

The dog (or other pet) in my life. My worst enemy.

How my family celebrates a holiday. Three books I want to own and why.

Meet my family. A character from fiction I would like to meet.

I was scared! My biggest gripe is…

A sports event I'll never forget. An open letter to my parents.

A day I would like to forget. A curious dream.

If I could do it over. What a home ought to be.

How I learned to read. The most wonderful person I know.

It's easier to blame others. A brief description of myself.

Why I like (dislike) my name. I wish I had lived in the time of…

Why _____ is my favorite sport. The main street of my hometown.

I like music because. My favorite restaurant is…

Why I want to be... My favorite meal is...

My idea of hard work is... How to care for a pet.

My idea of a good dinner is... How to find happiness.

My idea of a dull evening is... How to prepare my favorite food:

How to choose a friend. How to get along with a brother (sister).

The best state in the Union is... We can be proud of our school because…

What our school needs most is…

Handout 5.3 - Language Experience

[image: father and daughter, burning something on stove]


What's going to happen next?

Beal, Kathleen Kelly. Speaking of Pictures, Book I. Steck-Vaughn Co., Austin, TX, 1981, p. 52.

[image: burning house & fireman]

Handout 5.4 - Language Experience
Language Experience Activities
This is an example of a beginning reader's story:
Before Danny, I didn’t wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning. We didn’t have

toys all over the place. We didn’t worry about babysitters. We just went out

any time we wanted.
The possibilities for using the story for teaching specific skills are nearly limitless. Don't try too many things at once with beginners. The following exercises focus on one reading skill at a time. Refer back to the BEFORE DANNY story for reference as you study the following suggested exercises.

  1. Individual Words

  1. Student selects words he wants to learn from the first sentence.

b. Words are put on cards.

Danny morning didn’t o’clock

  1. Student matches cards to words in the story.

  1. Tutor quizzes student on cards in isolation. Shuffle cards and review.

  1. Student and tutor go back through the sentence, putting all words on cards.

f. Student constructs the sentences, using his word cards.

Repeat steps a through f with each sentence of the story. Although you may put every word on cards for sentence building—you do not have to drill every word to perfection. Review thoroughly only those words that: 1 ) the student chooses and 2) those the tutor chooses as important. It is better to review too few words than too many words.
2. Student and tutor look for words in the story that begin with the same sound.
Before—baby worry—wanted time—toys Danny—didn't
Students may have the beginning sound cards to match with words in the story.
w—went t—time
Language Experience Activities
3. Choose words from the story that can be rhymed. Make sure the word you start with is known in isolation.
wake at in all just went
make bat bin ball bust bent

bake cat sin call dust dent

fake mat tin fall must lent

cake rat win gall rust rent

lake fat chin hall crust sent

rake hat mall tent

Clusters of sounds can be put on cards, along with beginning sounds, so students can "build" complete words.
b—ake p—at w—in
4. Look for words from the story which have endings.
babysitters — toys wanted
Look for words in the story which could have endings.
mornings — places
5. For a follow-up lesson, tutors may want to write new sentences with the same vocabulary used in the original. Ask students to read.

a. Danny wakes up at 4 o'clock in the morning.

b. We have the baby sitter any time we want.
c. Danny's toys are all over the place.
d. Danny didn't worry about his toys.
e. We just didn't have any place for the toys.

Handout 5.4B - Language Experience
Language Experience Activities

  1. Sentences from the story are rewritten, but words are left out.

  1. We didn't have ________ all over the place.

  1. We just went out any time we ____________.

  1. Before Danny, we didn't _______ about babysitters.

  1. I didn't ________ up at 4 o'clock in the morning.

e. __________ Danny, we just went out.

7. Sentences in the story are mixed up. Students place sentences in the correct sequence.
______We didn't worry about babysitters.
______We didn't have toys all over the place.
______We just went out any time we wanted.
______Before Danny, I didn't wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning.

Language Experience Activities and Variations
Follow-up Activities:

1. Vocabulary Enrichment: Substitute a new word for one in the LE story. Ask the student if she can think of other words that mean the same thing. Add prefixes and suffixes or create a compound word. Always have the student use a new word in a sentence of her own. Write the sentence for the student to read.

2. Cloze Reading: Words from LE stories can be used in a cloze activity. Rewrite the student's story or write a new story/paragraph, deleting occasional words (e.g. every fifth word, all adjectives, etc.).
The student should read the entire passage, then go back and fill in appropriate words. Do not worry if the word is grammatically incorrect, the important thing is that the student is reading for meaning. Cloze reading encourages the reader to use predicting and confirming strategies which are fundamental to the reading process.
You can combine vocabulary enrichment with a cloze exercise. Delete words that have synonyms and have the student put new words in the blanks. You can spell them for the student.
3. Flash cards: Your student can make Flash cards of phrases or short sentences used in the LE stories. Isolated words on Flash cards are not always meaningful and should be avoided unless they are commonly seen in isolation (days of the week, STOP, etc.). As an illustration, the exact definition of the word "walk" depends on context. Flash cards with phrases such as "go for a walk" or "I walk to work" would be more meaningful.
To test mastery of individual words, you can simply point to them and have the student read them.
4. Strip Sentences: To show the student how individual words are put together to make meaningful phrases and sentences, cut the words apart and have the student arrange them in correct order. Strip sentences can be puzzle—cut at first, to assure that they will be put together successfully. Later, they can simply be cut into sections.
Later still, cut complete sentences for students to put into a paragraph sequence. Strip sentences are an excellent way to introduce punctuation and capital letters. Students will come to recognize these features as clues in putting the words together.

  1. Phonics: from time to time, point out similarities in sounds. Using words from the student's stories, substitute different letters to create new words (e.g. walk/talk, smoke/choke).


  • Tutors will learn about the basal and supplemental materials available

through their local program.

  • Tutors will gain exposure to a sampling of other materials (i.e. newspaper, telephone book, recipes, music, commercial games), and will discuss applications to the process of tutoring.

Use of a Tape Recorder or Cassette Player
To develop the sight word vocabulary

  1. Using the Dolch Basic Sight Word list, make a tape by reading the list of words but allow time before each word for the student to read the word from the student's own list.

  1. The student reads a word from the list, then hears the correct pronunciation before moving on to the next word.

  1. A graph of the number of words pronounced accurately each session can be kept to graphically show improvement to the student.

4. An advanced vocabulary tape can be developed from books or texts.

To build reading skills and encourage use of language

  1. The student writes (or dictates to the teacher) a story.

  1. After reading it over silently, the student reads it aloud onto the tape.

  1. The student plays back the tape while looking at the story and noting difficult words, problems of phrasing, etc.

  1. The student re-records the selection, trying to improve on the first reading.

5. Save each recording to compare with subsequent ones.

To develop accurate oral reading

  1. Student and teacher select a passage the student is familiar with.

  1. As the student reads into the tape recorder, the teacher notes the errors made by placing a mark on a tally sheet.

  1. When the student has finished reading the selection, replay the tape allowing the student to read along silently.

  1. The student self corrects. If the error is not recognized, the teacher stops the tape recorder and replays that part of the passage until the student notices the mistake.

  1. The student creates a graph of the number of mistakes made.

Spelling Development

  1. The student dictates a list of words onto the tape saying each word twice and allowing 8-10 seconds between the words.

  1. On playback, the student hears the word, has 8-10 seconds to spell it orally or write it, and then hears the word again.

  1. The recorder can be stopped to allow for more time or corrections to be made.

Teacher-Made Materials
The following suggestions are a sampling of some of the limitless materials you can create yourself to enhance your teaching of basic skills. Most require a little advance preparation time. Most encourage the use of common household items rather than specially purchased materials. And all of them are included to help stimulate you to create materials of your own to meet specific student needs.

Flashcards: To develop sight word memory. Use the backside of old business cards, unused tickets to functions, 3x5 index cards, etc. to make flashcards. When possible, recycle!

1. Word cards: Write words lengthwise on the cards. If a student is having difficulty, write the word in large letters and have him/her trace it with 2 fingers. Use crayon or write the word with white glue and sprinkle it with sand to create a tactile (kinesthetic) flashcard.
2. Rummy: To use flashcards in rummy-type games, print the words across the ends of the cards. This makes it easier to hold them like playing cards.
Make 13 sets of 4 words each and deal 7 cards to each player. The object is to draw one and discard one until matching sets of 3 or 4 can be laid down. Any rummy rules will work. Sets can be made of the same word, or of groups of related objects (i.e. hammer, saw, pliers, and screwdriver).

  1. Word Dominos: Use cards similar to

the ones you made for rummy only

print different words on each end

of the cards. Match the words, end-for-end

similar to the normal rules for the game of dominos.

4. Concentration: Make flashcards in pairs of 2 until you have 10 pairs of new vocabulary words your student is working on. Mix them up and spread them out face down in rows. Turn over 2 cards at a time and read them. If they don't match, turn them face down again. Continue until the student matches all pairs of words. Take turns with the student if appropriate. Pairs of synonyms or antonyms can also be used.
5. Word-picture matching: Any of the above games might be expanded if the student needs an additional visual cue. Cut small pictures from catalogs or magazines and glue them to the opposite side of the cards containing the matching word. OR, the pictures can be kept in an envelope and the student can draw out a picture and find the word card to match it.

6. Rhyming exercises: Develop sets of flashcards in specific phonic families. The student selects a word. She then finds all the word cards that are in that family (and, band, land, stand, brand, sand, hand, etc.).

Teacher-Made Materials continued
7. Sentences: By lining up word cards from the rummy game, sentences can be formed. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc. may need to be added to the word decks for correct sentence structure. Once the student learns to do this, simple substitution of one word at a time will create many sentences.
8. Word Bingo: Divide cards into 30 equal squares. Write BINGO, 1 1etter per square, across the top of the square side. Write FREE in the center square. Write words that the student is learning in each of the other squares. Each word should also be written on a small piece of paper. Students will draw and read words. Matching words found on their cards may be covered with buttons, beans, scraps of paper, etc. until BINGO is achieved. Words must then be read back aloud to win.







9. Hangman: Use the student's new vocabulary words to play the game of Hangman.

Once you have taught your student how to use these games, he/she should be encouraged to use them frequently at home to sharpen their skills. The underlying purpose of all of these games is to provide variety in practicing basic word skills. The following activities contain suggestions for practicing other reading skills such as comprehension, direction following and others.
10. Use photographs or slides on any topic to stimulate: conversation, experience stories, writing activities, etc.
11. If the student needs or wants to leam geography of local, national or world areas, get a copy of a map, glue it to cardboard or laminate it (clear contact paper works well) and cut it into a puzzle. Or, use the map to plan trips, estimate distances or locate destinations.

12. Following directions: Without allowing the student to look at you, give a set of directions which requires him/her to draw a picture, find something on a map, use a bus or train schedule, find the correct dosage from a medicine label, etc. Two students can do this while sitting back to back. One gives directions while the other tries to follow them. Then they compare results to see how well the receiver has understood and followed the sender's directions.

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