Hopping Aboard the R-CAR for Remarkable Readers


Ashley Heavener

Beginning Reading Design

Rationale:  This lesson will aim to teach students the value of employing the reading strategy of cross-checking in order to read with accuracy.  Beginning readers will, inevitably, encounter a plethora of words that are unfamiliar to them.  By employing their growing knowledge of letter-sound correspondences, beginning readers can often simply sound words out and continue reading.  However, sometimes they need a more supportive scaffolding system and that is where cross-checking can be employed.   Only when readers are accurate and continually cross-check can they achieve fluency.  By approaching the strategy with a memorable cue, practicing it, and discussing its importance, students should better understand why and how to employ the strategy of cross-checking.


1.  Multiple copy sets of familiar book(s) (Enough for students to be broken into pairs [based on reading level] and each child provided with a book on his/her instructional level).  Try to choose books that will take each pair about the same time to read.

2.  Familiar book to read aloud and model--This would work best with a book recently read in class and/or with plot-revealing illustrations.  (Example utilized:  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst)

3.  Bookmarks for students in the shape of cars with the cross-checking strategy steps--"R-CAR--Read on, Cover-up, Ask for Help, Reread"

4.  Whiteboard and markers


1.  Say:  "I know that everyone in this class is a great reader, but now it's time that we work on becoming remarkable readers!  A lot of people think that the trick to remarkable reading is reading really quickly.  Today, we're going to see if that's true.  I'm going to read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Have you ever had a day so terrible that you think that absolutely no one in the world has had such awful luck?  Well, that's exactly how Alexander feels!  From the moment that he wakes up with gum in his hair, nothing at all is going well!  Let's read to see if Alexander can figure out a way to turn things around and make his day better!  As I read, I'm going to do my best to be a remarkable reader and read really quickly.  Let's see how it goes!"  As the book is read rapidly, the teacher will intentionally read nonsensical words and include miscues with no correction.  

2.  "Okay.  Whew!  I think I read that pretty remarkably!  What do you guys think?"  Students will likely respond saying that the book didn't make much sense and that the teacher got some words wrong.  (If this does not occur, go back and reread the first page in the same manner and say:  "I'm not sure that I did a very good job.  I mean, I read the page pretty quickly, but it didn't make much sense to me!").   "Let's see if I can do a little better"

3.  Re-read the book to the students.  Rather than reading quickly, read slowly with expression.  Model for students, a couple of times, how to cross-check when they come to a word that they are unsure of in the text.  When finished, say:  "Was it a little better that time? (Allow students to respond)  Did anyone notice anything that I did differently?  (Allow responses)  I'll tell you what I did.  I hopped in the car for remarkable readers, called the R-CAR (write this one the board) and used a strategy that remarkable readers use called cross-checking."

4.  "I'll tell you how it works. Here's a sentence that I struggled with: 'I got soap in my eyes'" (Write this sentence on the board, rather than saying it aloud--point out soap as the point of confusion)  "So this is what I did.  I hopped in the R-CAR for remarkable readers (point to 'R-CAR' on the board).  First, I R--read on (point to the R).  'My bath was too hot, I got ____ in my eyes,' Oh! Maybe it's soap!  He's in the bathtub and the letters seem to be right, so that would make sense.  Let's try it and re-read!  'My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes.'  That makes sense! So I can keep reading and know that Alexander has soap in his eyes!" 

5.  "But sometimes, it won't be that easy.  When Reading on (point to the R) doesn't work, stay in the car!  (Point to C)  Next, you can try C--cover-up.  (Write soap on the board to model)  Let's review how to use cover-ups.  I'm going to start by looking at the vowel(s) in the middle of the word. (Cover the s and p) I know that oa=/O/. So now, I can add the beginning of the word.  /s//O/.../so/! Now I'm ready to add the end! /so//p/ SOAP!"  Now I can re-read the sentence to be sure that it makes sense and so that I can get back into the story. 'My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes'"

6.  "If those two strategies don't help you to figure out the word, then you should ask for help.  (Point to the A in "R-CAR.")  No matter which part of the strategy works, be sure that you reread the sentence and be sure that you're in the story.  This whole process of reading on, covering up, asking for help, and rereading is called cross-checking and it's what remarkable readers do all the time!  Reading quickly isn't always the best approach.  The best approach is when you read so that you understand exactly what's happening in the book.  Riding in the R-CAR helps you to be sure that you're always understanding what's going on in the story!  I've made you all car bookmarks to be sure that you can remember how to cross-check!" Pass out bookmarks to students.

7.  "Alright, now let's practice cross-checking together.  I'm going to write a few sentences on the board.  Some will be trickier than others.  If you want to try a ride in the R-CAR for remarkable readers, then raise your hand and show me how you cross-check."  Allow students to voluntarily come up and read sentences aloud.  Remind them that it's important that the sentence makes sense and if it doesn't, it's important to go back and correct any mistakes.  As you create sentences, challenge students by inserting irregular or longer words (e.g. The beautiful weather made the blue water shimmer).  Also, remind students as necessary how to 'ride in the R-CAR for remarkable readers.'

8.  Divide students into pairs based on reading level.  If these groups are not already established in the classroom, be sure to make the pairings seem random.  "Now that you're in pairs, I'm going to give each pair one of my favorite books.  I want you to read the book together.  You and your partner will take turns reading.  You will read a page, then your partner will read a page.  While you're reading, be sure that everything is making sense and that you're riding in the R-CAR for remarkable readers.  If you're not reading, you still need to be sure that it's making sense and help your partner out with the R-CAR if they need it."  Provide each group with a booktalk that will be motivational for the students' reading of the book (See Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day booktalk used previously).  The teacher will walk around monitoring student reading and group activity.  If any students finish early, have them re-read the story and encourage them to use a lot of expression.

9.  Assessment:  As students read, the teacher will take time to listen to each student read about a page.  The teacher will fill out a student database, noting students' usage of the cross-checking method.  The teacher will note whether the student used the strategy himself or herself, helped his or her partner use the strategy, or had no need for the strategy at all.  It will be important to note what aspects students did well and where they may have struggled when using the strategy and to re-teach those portions of the strategy.  If time allows, for a more intensive assessment, take time with each student and have him or her read a book aloud.  Keep a running record and note evidence of the student's usage of cross-checking as he or she reads.  Additionally, provide students with sentences containing long and/or irregular words to see how effectively they can apply the cross-checking strategy to these words.  For example, "This summer, my family took a trip to a beautiful island."


Greene, Tara.  "Thumbs Up for Expert Readers!"  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/elucid/greenebr.html

Scroggins, Ruth.  "Sounding Out Trouble."  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/elucid/scrogginsbr.html

Viorst, Judith.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1972.  Print.

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