Struggling reader – in praise of practice and consolidation


We know that any newly acquired knowledge or skill must to be practised for it to be committed to memory.  In order to develop reading fluency, automaticity has to be established and this is brought about through practice and consolidation.  Sometimes teachers worry about boring their pupils by revisiting what they have taught.  For many pupils these consolidation activities are crucial.


A good teacher will find fun ways to revisit the knowledge, concepts and skills the pupil needs to practice and consolidate.


Here is what I did with my struggling reader who missed two lessons in a row:


In the previous lesson I had taught him some alternative spellings for the phoneme /oe/.

I started the lesson with handing him a bunch of words that he needed to sort out according to the spelling of /oe/ in the word.   He had to make a label to head each list of words.    By handing the words to the pupil, this week, I was asking him not just to read and sort the words but also to revise the alternative spellings that we had covered.  I might add that sorting and categorising is an important part of the Sounds-Write programme that we follow at the Bloomfield Learning Centre.


Discussing spelling tendencies

I asked him to identify which spelling of /oe/ is likely to come at the end of the word.  We discussed  the words ‘go, no, so’ and compared them to the more common spelling  in ‘snow, blow, row’ etc.


Reading mirrors spelling

We then did a short spelling activity.  The Alba Series workbook includes an activity which presents reading and spelling as two parts to the same worksheet.  On the left hand side, the pupil ticks the words once he has read them.  The paper in then folded down the middle.    On the right hand side, the pupil must spell the same words.  The sheet is then unfolded and the pupil can self-correct.  Pupil like this activity as they self-check their word and it is empowering.  I like it because it mirrors the process of reading and spelling which are two sides of the same coin.


Comprehension and grammar

Next we did an activity which combines comprehension and grammar.  The pupil reads sentences from the story which includes words with /oe/ spellings.  He needs to comprehend the sentences in order to insert the missing full stops and capital letters.  Punctuation seems to be a huge problem for my pupils of all ages – so this is quite a useful activity.


Timed reading excercise

Finally, we did a timed reading exercise. This was in order to practise reading words with and without split vowel o-e.  The exercise includes words such as ‘hop and hope’ though not necessarily next to one another.  I have always been a bit wary of timed exercises as some pupils can feel pressurised by it.  I usually tentatively try to see how my pupil takes to this exercise.

My pupil had the opportunity to read the words at speed three times.  At first he read them in 59 seconds.  By the third time he read them in 35 seconds. Practice makes perfect.  I was rewarded with a huge grin …



Details about the Bloomfield Learning Centre can be found at


Here is the Sounds-Write Reading and Spelling programme website


Here is a link to the Alba Series we are working from

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