/twərk/ is an r-controlled syllable

IMG_0752Learning to read is hard work and for many kids, slow going. Knowing this, I always ask new students, “Why do you want to learn to read?”   The answers are often poignant (“I want to read the birthday cards from my grandma”), sometimes practical (“I want to be able to tell the difference between the shampoo bottle and the conditioner”) or surprising (“I want to read the subtitles of a foreign movie”).  For teens, the answers  almost always do NOT match their parents’ ideas of why reading is important. Some of my favorites: “I want to write a love letter,” “I want to tweet,” or “I want to Goggle (something not entirely appropriate).”  I always write these wishes down, so when the time comes to finally begin blending phonemes into words, we can apply that skill to something meaningful and motivating for the student.   This week, I received the following email from a parent, which nicely illustrates this concept:

James just sounded out “girls twerking booty” as he typed it into YouTube.  YouTube auto-corrected it to “girls talking booty.”  This required Tom to explain to James that he had spelled everything correctly, but since the computer was misinterpreting what he entered, he should try something else.  We are now all sitting around the living room thinking of  alternative search terms for “Girls twerking booty.”   This is not what I pictured literacy would be like.

James’ mother sent the email to me and James’ teacher. His teacher’s response?

Initial blend!  r-controlled vowel! -ing ending! Yay!

My thoughts exactly.