Reading “One Child at a Time” by Pat Johnson

Students enrolled in the spring 2011 section of READ 6323 worked together in small groups to read and discuss a professional book related to struggling readers. As part of their project, they wrote a post for our blog.

By: Margaret, Selia, Gracia, and Idalou

As teachers we have come across many struggling readers and have wondered why these students are struggling.  Johnson describes these students as students who have not identified their reading strategies to become active and fluent readers.  It really does make sense. There has been students who have gotten stuck in reading a word or who have read the whole text with no comprehension of what was read.  This is due to lack of strategies that students have developed.  Johnson has developed a framework that guides teachers in developing the students reading strategies. The framework consists of:  Here’s what, this is where the teachers identifies the student difficulty when reading the text, So what,  the teacher reflects on what the student just read,  Now what, it’s time to teach, Then what,  check if the student has placed the teaching into practice.  This is a great framework, because Johnson uses a lot of samples in putting it into practice.  What makes this framework effective is that Johnson uses one to one instruction with the students.  In this book Johnson uses her framework and how she approaches the students with reading difficulties.

In chapter 3 she approached Yessica who was a Spanish native speaker.  Johnson spent time with her framework.  She identified Yessica’s reading difficulty; she was unable to identify new words. Johnson sat with Yessica where Yessica was reading. While reading Yessica got stuck on a word, this is where the teaching began. She taught Yessica to put her finger on the first letter of the word. Once identifying the letter Johnson asked her to go to the alphabet to recognize the sound.  If the letter is t then the sound would be /t/.  Then the student was encouraged to think about a word that begins with the /t/ sound.  Johnson then encouraged the student to do the same when she would get stuck on unfamiliar word.  Johnson observed Yessica using this reading strategy.  Students at the lower grades could be reading a book about monkeys when they come up to unfamiliar word like bananas.  In this situation we would encourage Johnson’s strategy.   Look at the first letter. What sound does this letter make? What could begin with the /b/ sound and is related to monkeys.  They would then be able to read the word banana. She also focuses on fluency.  One of the many activities that she does is model fluent reading and repeated readings.  Self monitoring is another important reading strategy that Johnson wants her students to know.  Johnson suggests that there should be teacher support in order for a student to achieve this strategy.  ELL students need support, and one to one instruction with the teacher.  Some good texts that ELL students should be exposed to are texts with good predictable features, books that invite talk, and support curriculum. 

 Johnson’s one-to-one interaction with the students shows the students the interest coming from the teacher. This could encourage them to become great readers as they feel safe and secure.  Johnson, by doing this, assures lines of communication open between the struggling readers and the teacher. This is convenient to have in order to hear from the students when they need our help. This will assure a better understanding of what is needed by this student. We should follow Johnson’s examples of never giving up on our strugglers; we may need to work harder or for a longer time or even adjust our teaching as other teachers do with all the students in the book.  As we know there is no one definition or type of instruction that fits all learners. The use of this book is an essential tool especially the framework she developed to work with struggling readers by helping them develop their reading strategies and become successful readers which is what us teachers look forward to seeing in our classrooms.  For resources regarding this blog visit this website


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