Readiness for Stage 3 - Comprehension Instruction
Students are ready to start Stage 3 when they are 'fluent decoders'.
Decoding and Comprehension compete for available short term memory and decoding will always trump comprehension. Therefore it is important that a certain level of decoding fluency is achieved (the decoding process is sufficiently automated to leave space in the head for other things) before asking the reader to focus their cognitive energy on some heavy duty constructing of meaning.
The criteria for moving on to Stage 3
The reader must demonstrate reasonable fluency at a reading age of 7 or above. That means a good flow as they are reading, not hesitant word by word decoding.
The reader must have an efficient word attack strategy so they can sound out and chunk unfamiliar / multisyllabic words which start appearing in the text they are reading at around a reading age of 7 years.
The reader must be monitoring their reading and self correcting miscues especially visual clues ("That doesn't look right!").
The reader must be able to hold onto the gist of the sentence - they are using the new found space in their heads to ‘hold onto meaning’ not necessarily construct it for themselves.
Students in Junior Classrooms
The usual expectation is that students in the first two years of school will be working on Stages 1&2 (Developing Decoding Fluency). Towards the end of the second year some may be meeting the criteria above and could be ready for Comprehension Instruction.
Students in Middle and Upper Primary Classrooms
In the middle and upper school (7-13 year olds) most students will be reading at or above their chronological age and will meet the criteria above. Whether they have a reading age of 7 or 15+, all students must work their way through Stage 3 as this is the foundation which Stages 4-6 are built upon.
CLICK HERE for our 'SharpReading Scope and Sequence' for schools where SharpReading has been implemented over a number of years.
In every middle and upper primary classroom there will be a number of student who still have decoding issues (1 or 2 years behind their chronological age is a useful marker) and will probably not benefit from the challenges of Stage 3.
For advice on what to do with these students, click on the link to "The Struggling Older Reader".