Natural language stories are texts composed of the student’s own words.
The helper writes or types what the student says. The 'story' can be a sentence, a caption for a picture, a joke, or a whole story.
The helper turns phrases into complete sentences.
The helper shortens sentences that may be too long for the beginner to read.
The helper assists the student in thinking of what to say.
The helper reads the story to the student.
Reading and re-reading to the student, makes the student very familiar with the story before he ever tries to read it himself.
During the writing, there are lots of opportunities for reading to the student, over and over, what has been written so far.
The helper points to the words, and reads in a natural-sounding manner, but more slowly than usual.
Gradually (or sometimes suddenly) the student learns to read his story independently.
At first, the student may be ‘just remembering’ the story.
This is okay. (But do teach him to point to the word he is saying--and without covering it with his finger!)
Through accurate repetition, the link between the written words and the naming gets stronger and stronger.
Over the days, you gradually help him to notice familiar details in the words, even if all he knows at first is a few familiar consonants.
Gradually, he is learning to mix two streams of thought: his Phonics skills, and his sentences. Excellent!
As he rehearses his stories, he will probably name certain words over and over again--the, is, to, one, of--words that do not particularly follow the Phonics rules anyway.
When he can read his old stories days and weeks after writing them, and when he has collected a stack of them so thick that neither of you can remember them exactly, you will finally be convinced that he is reading.
By reading the story over and over, the student is practicing Rapid-Accurate Naming, fluency, and comprehension.
Natural Language Stories help students to put all the skills together as a system.
Natural Language Stories give the message that reading is familiar language, written down.
Some students, particularly those who have struggled, do not expect what they read to make sense.
They may start guessing words that do not fit in the sentence, or even nonsense words.
But a student who is reading her own words, will really understand that the written version is supposed to make sense.
Natural Language Stories help students to make the connection between the mechanics of reading, and their language system.
Natural Language Stories provide examples of the phonics the child is learning, and of common whole words.
Children need Phonic readers as part of their Phonics program.
But the language in these stories does not sound very natural, and the language is not very deep.
Natural Language Stories give students the opportunity to see their Phonics in action within language that is richer and more familiar to them.
Students are successful with Natural Language Stories.
For students who are struggling to learn Phonics, Natural Language Stories provide a worthwhile, satisfying and successful reading experience that can protect their ‘can-do’ attitude.
For older students whose reading is labored or worse, Natural Language Stories provide rehearsal material that is automatically high-interest and age-appropriate.
Students can be fluent at a level which might take them much longer to achieve with unfamiliar text.
As they practice reading fluently, they are learning how to read fluently.
Natural Language Stories demonstrate the writing process for students.
Students have to assist their helper by going more slowly or backing up and repeating an idea from time to time.
Student and helper brainstorm ideas together.
The helper demonstrates the process of putting an idea into words (and gets the student’s approval).
“Should I write . . . ‘None of the aliens bothered the boy?’ . . . or . . . ‘The aliens were not interested in the boy?’ . . . Or . . ."
By watching how the writing process works, students are better prepared to write their own ideas.
More on this topic: The Reading Treehouse -> CONNECT TO THE TREE: Comprehension
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