Second Grade Reading
Second grade reading curriculum is often focused on transitional readers because students at this stage of reading development are still learning foundational decoding and comprehension skills and acquiring more complex, multisyllabic vocabulary.
Second grade reading demands a greater level of skills as teachers begin incorporating activities that haven’t occurred in earlier grades. Richardson (The Next Step in Guided Reading, 2009) identifies five areas of focus for transitional readers: self-monitoring, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and retell.
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Transitional readers begin to recognize when a reading error occurs because the result doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence or passage. At this stage, they may stop and use decoding strategies or context clues to determine unknown words.
The use of running records for second grade reading provides the opportunity for teachers to determine fluency as well as the frequency of miscues and corrections. Having students engage in oral reading also allows the teacher to identify students who are struggling with decoding and where those struggles occur.
Recommended informal assessments of second grade reading include asking students to retell a story in their own words using sequencing such as first, then, next, and finally to explain the order and to answer questions about the story to determine comprehension.
If students struggle with retelling, reducing the request to a page or section of the story and allowing students to use pictures if necessary may provide additional support. Students who continue to have difficulty should be allowed to strengthen this skill by choosing a lower level book.
Vocabulary acquisition is another important component of transitional reading in second grade. Not only do students begin to recognize previously unknown words in print but they learn the meaning of these new words and incorporate them into speaking and writing.
Personal word walls and vocabulary games that reinforce learning, as well as strategies for new and difficult words are often introduced at this stage. Second graders become familiar with new vocabulary in the form of contractions, compound words, and words containing prefixes and suffixes.
Second grade reading introduces a number of instructional scaffolding strategies to move students along the continuum toward becoming good readers. For example, almost all reading prior to second grade has been oral and the transition to silent reading occurs at this point.
Similarly, the shift from teacher-managed guided reading to student literature circles generally begins in second grade as students are provided with more opportunities to engage in individual reading and verbal discussion of text.
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Beginning readers have read fictional stories almost exclusively to this point but transitional readers in second grade will be introduced to non-fiction and other genres.
Second grade readers often explore literary elements and terms such as plot, character, and setting and can identify the point of view of the author. They begin to distinguish between types of text structure and can explain the difference between compare/contrast, problem/solution, and cause/effect.
A primary focus of second grade reading is fluency and comprehension. Transitional readers are encouraged to reread passages more than once in order to improve accuracy, fluency, and expression and to attend to meaning as they read.
Second graders are able to comprehend more of what they read because they are investing less cognitive energy in merely decoding the words and can begin to develop text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections.
The transitional reading skills that are introduced in second grade serve as an important bridge to becoming a stronger reader. So much of the information that will be needed in the future to understand the structure of text and the strategies for gaining meaning from what they read will be presented to second grade readers.
Those who have established a strong phonetic foundation and can transition easily to this more advanced level will have greater access to the curriculum and to the overall enjoyment of reading.
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