Students Correct Their 3rd Grade Teacher


Readability Matters heard from a 3rd-grade teacher this week. She was recently reading to her class; students interrupted her to point out that she had mistakenly read “picture” rather than “partner.” As this teacher explains, the basic shape of these two words is very similar.

picture vs. partnerAs reading skills develop, readers move from reading letters to recognizing the overall shape of words, a process called orthographic processing. Orthographic processing includes the ability to identify familiar letter patterns as words. (See How Reading Works.) The confusion can happen as good readers encounter words of similar shapes.

As this teacher already uses text format personalization to improve reading outcomes in her students, she immediately recognized what happened. She was reading from a book with tight character spacing, while she needs additional character spacing to support her best reading. She drew the shapes for us and highlighted the similarity.

As she explained, this reinforced her commitment to personalized text formats. “Why not give my students the formats that make them better readers?” she asked. Of course, we agree!