The Ways to Track Words

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Dr. Shona discusses the many ways in which students track words when they read.

Tracking Words While Reading During The STAAR 2.0 Test

Understanding how your students are tracking words while reading important passages is critical because you can use that knowledge to teach them the best way to comprehend blocks of text on the STAAR 2.0 test. Sometimes readers get sick of scrolling—literally. It makes them dizzy. Some readers find it helpful to use other tools to keep track of where they are in a passage, keeping the text stable with their eyes and reading needs. For example, a lot of us use our thumbs on our cell phones to move text up and down. For social media posts, most of us pause, consume that particular post, and then scroll more. Online reading on a computer screen has similar functions.

Last time, I talked about a few ways kids can track what they’re reading using a digital tool or their thumb and doing it three lines at a time. I’ll start my list of ways they can track different amounts of text by including the main ideas from that blog below, but if you want a more detailed understanding of tracking words these ways, click here.

Tracking Three Lines At A Time …

As I said last time, the digital line reader is wonky but it can be a great way to keep track of where you are in the text or any given line. A way around the wonkiness is to have your students put their thumb along the outside of the screens to keep track of where they are reading. And because I’ve learned from experience that your students likely won’t use a card or paper under

the lines and top of the screen, have them use some clear laminating film that is less intrusive.

To quote myself:

“Another technique is to have the kids use the mouse or trackpad to highlight three lines of the text at a time. (No, not the highlighter tool yet.) If three lines at a time are highlighted, they always know if they are on the top, middle, or bottom lines. Sometimes, I have them highlight a paragraph or section at a time. Just depends on what they need or prefer at the time. Sometimes, a text will be more difficult than others and they need to add in more supports for themselves.”

… By Chunks

Some readers prefer to read chunks of text at a time. They will read the entire part of the passage that appears in the window before moving the screen down. Then, by using the mouse or trackpad, readers focus their eyes on the last line read and follow that back up to the top of the screen to reveal a new chunk.

… Line by Line

Tracking words while reading sometimes takes the form of using the arrow key to keep the text at the top or adding one new line at a time at the bottom of the text.

TEKS Commentary

Foundational Language Skills: Fluency
Multiple Genres: Genres: A-F
Response: E: Interact with sources in meaningful ways—the source has features—we show them how they can be used to enhance meaning.
Comprehension: A, B, C, H, I; Scanning that text and determining genre is a type of synthesis that aids in setting purpose and monitoring comprehension.
Inquiry and Research: A, B, C

Up Next

Now that we have discussed the different ways your kids are tracking words while reading important passages on tests, the next topic we’ll talk about is the temptation to read the questions first and why that’s both a good and bad thing.

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About the Author

Dr Shona Rose

Shona Rose

Dr. Shona Rose, passionate about literacy and improving student experiences, researches and presents solutions to cause displays of learner growth. These displays become tools for teachers to provide support and intervention to accelerate the impact on student performance.
Dr. Rose uses her experiences as a baker at Kind House Ukraine Bakery, gardening and music, and budding interest as an outdoorswoman and overlander to make concrete connections to literary processes. Her rescue mutt, Joy, and ugly Cornish Rex cat, Youglie, often appear in her writings and activities.
When not researching and reading, Dr. Rose revels in being a “Nona” to her three grandchildren. 
Connect with Shona: 
Or by email to shonarose67 at gmail