Facing Flashcards Head On

In an ironic twist, given my last post, I am faced with helping lead a family literacy night at which the families will receive materials made by others. And, as you might guess, half of the materials families will receive to take home are flashcards with letters & sounds, and sight words. The event is just weeks away and the other event organizers are eager to make these resources available to families. They haven't had the advantage of using a variety of materials, understanding the theory that produces each option, and observing how readers respond to their use. It is this kind of experience and critical analysis that helps teacher education students understand the connection between theory and practice.

On top of it all, most of the families are English language learners, making the practice of practicing words out of context particularly challenging. Instead of "comprehensible input," as Stephen Krashen terms meaningful language experiences, flashcards strip away all meaning.

So what will I do? My first plan is to use available funds to purchase books, so each family receives at least one book with each flashcard set. I'll highlight the "sight words" within these books (or have the families do it) so the surrounding text supports the reading.

In the meantime, I have not located the research I mentioned in my last post. Stay tuned for any additional ideas I come up with. Oh yes, I've also raised the issue with leaders who may have the latitude to revise the next production of materials.

Time to scan in the coded texts that Emily borrowed so I can illustrate this issue for you, blog readers.

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