Adventures in Literacy Land: finger pointing

Showing posts with label finger pointing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label finger pointing. Show all posts

When to Say "So Long!" to Finger Pointing

Hello Literacy Land Readers!  I'm dropping in today to talk about...

Finger pointing, or having children point to each word as they read is a common practice for emergent readers.  Finger pointing helps the reader learn to look carefully at print.  It supports two early reading behaviors, directional movement and voice-print match.

However, there comes a time when readers should learn to rely on their eyes rather than their fingers.

When a reader points as he reads, he is forced to slow down, which limits fluency and often causes him to sound robotic.  Pointing can prevent students from growing into fluent, expressive readers.

Once students show evidence of correct directional movement and master one-to-one correspondence, it is time to say 'so long' to finger pointing.

When I sense that my students are ready to move to eye-tracking, (usually at a Fountas and Pinnell Level D), we have a little good bye ceremony for the pointer finger.  We literally "kiss" that finger good bye. While many students will outgrow the use of finger pointing on their own, others will need some guidance.

Try using the following strategies to move your students from finger pointing to eye-tracking:

Read in Phrases
Explain to students that when their mouth is saying a word, their eyes should be moving ahead to get ready for the next few words. Demonstrate the how it sounds to read word by word and how it sounds to read words grouped together in short phrases. Students need to hear the difference. Looking ahead to upcoming words also helps students prepare for upcoming punctuation.

Work Out Tricky Words
Teach students that it is okay to use their finger when they come to a difficult word. By using their finger, they can isolate parts of the word and tackle them one chunk at a time.  Remind students to remove their finger as soon as the word is decoded.  Then go back and reread the sentence smoothly to get the meaning.

Keep Your Place
It is common for some students to lose their place as they read.  As students progress through the reading levels, the font of the text decreases and the length of the text increases, often resulting in students skipping lines as they read.  When this happens, encourage students to ask themselves if what they are reading makes sense and sounds right.  Using this cuing will often solve the issue.

However, for students who consistently skip lines, you may want to try a sliding tool like a bookmark or index card.  The student can slide it down the page as they read.  The sliding tool allows them to keep their place in the text while still being able to read the line of text ahead.  Some teachers have students place the slider above the line the student is reading.  This allows students to train their eyes to make the return sweep to the next line (without the slide tool covering the words).  Other teachers prefer that students use a finger to point at the beginning of each line the child is reading.  As the student's visual tracking improves this strategy should be phased out.

The ultimate goal is to read without the use of finger pointing or sliders so that readers can focus on the meaning of the text.