Beginning Reading
by : Ruth Scroggins
"Sounding Out Trouble"
To become fully alphabetic readers, students must be able to decode letters into words.  To do this, some may need to use the method of cross-checking.  This lesson will give children a rhyme to help them remember the steps of cross-checking in case they need to use them and to simply increase their awareness of a method available to help them.
Each child will receive a sheet of paper with the following poem at the top:
  If sounding out becomes a bore,
  Then try to read a little more.
  And if that does not seem to work,
  Give cover-up a little jerk.
  If you still can not seem to get it,
  Ask a friend to help you with it.Ē
Also on this page, there should be written:
  Steps for Cross-Checking
  1.  Read-On
  2.  Cover-up
  3.  Ask for help
At the bottom of the page, there shoould be about three sentences on a challenging reading level for your students.  On the sheet, for example, there should be:
  1.  Jan runs everyday, with her dog Ted.
  2.  Ted likes to play on the beach.
  3.  They have so much fun together!
Additional sentences will be needed for assessment.
1.  Introduce the lesson
"O.K., class.  I know it can get hard to read sometimes, because you do not know all of the words you are reading.  Does everyone remember the steps we went over for cross-checking?  They were... (say the steps with the class, pointing them out on the sheet).  I know that it can be a little hard to remember all of those steps so I have something to help you.  Here is a little rhyme to say when you are having trouble..."  Then read the poem to the children.  Have them say it back to you.  Talk about each step with the class as a review and to help them retain the new poem.  Also let the children ask questions.
2.  Give the following model:
"O.K. Everyone look at the botom of the sheet I gave you.  Letís read the first sentence together. 'Jan runs ev...ev...,' oh!  I canít get this word.  What should I do?"
Wait for the class to tell you to read on.  Read on, still not getting the word 'everyday'.  Ask what to do next.  Let them suggest cover-up.  (As you go along, get the class to recite the pieces of the poem as needed).  Then cover-up everything but 'er' and sound it out with the class.  Then add Ďeví and then uncover 'day.'  Read the word.  "All right, class!  Great job!  See how easy that was?"
3.  Partner the class up to work through the other sentences so that they can help remind each other of the steps to cross-checking.
4.  Assessment:
Check students' reading in pairs.  Provide additional sentences to allow children time to observe all students' use of the steps.
Example checklist:
__ Student used the cross-checking method if needed
__ Student helped another student use the cross-checking method
__ Student read independently and needs a higher level difficulty set of sentences
Dr. Bruce Murray, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama