SSP Snap and Crack
Cracking Comprehension! 

Developing comprehension with decodable readers, at any stage of the learning to read journey.

The main idea of decodable readers is that the children can practice decoding fluency, as independently as possible. They do this with books that are written using the graphemes (Sound Pics) at their SSP Code Level. Use the free guide to organise them, and keep an eye on for new ones.

We use 'Snap and Crack' as one of our group activities with decodables, which means that in a group you 'Snap' a page from one of the books (and it's great as you know the text is suitable for their 'code level') You number the lines (not sentences) and ask quick fire questions. They can give a 'speakers answer' but still have to say where they found the answer (and if not in the text then identify they deduced from they justify their response. They then have to give the 'writers' response, which means to answer in a full sentence. If time they might write it, but we usually run these Snap and Crack sessions in about 15/20 minutes (little and often) The 'crack' part is the comprehension - and the 'snap' part is because if we are doing this in front of a white board we have taken a photo with phone /camera and put it on the screen, and then numbered the lines. If a group and no technology then use laminated clear sheets - they lay over the page and number with whiteboard pens.

The students can also take turns asking questions. The kids in our first grade (kindergarten) classes often choose to do this in the reading corner - with one being 'teacher'. As they can decode the text they are working on comprehension skills, and developing oral language skills. You can also include vocab - so they can give alternative words, and also when predicting what happens next. Sometimes the 'what happens next' is their writing activity.

The thing most teachers get excited about in training is that they can literally do this with the most basic of decodables, in the very early stages - with hardly any words, and you can do it with little to no planning. I often ask the kids to choose which page we will 'Snap and Crack'.

So let's say they chose this page from a Fitzroy reader. If all have the same book, they overlay and number. If not you might have photocopied and they number, or put on whiteboard and number.

1 They read it to themselves, making a note of any words they weren't sure of. It doesn't make any difference if they have read that book before, or any of the previous pages.
2 Use Speedy Paired Code Mapping/ decoding to enhance spelling skills
3 Then you read it with expression (or get a child to) and they all read with expression.
4 Discuss any words they wrote.
5 Quick fire :
eg What can't fall by itself?'

a/The kids can either give a speakers answer (Line 1, the cup)
Or a written answer (Line 1) The cup cannot fall.

b/Who thinks there must be a monster?
Speakers answer might be Line 4, Marg but then the writers answer? (Line 4) Marg thinks there must be a monster.

c/ Why does Marg think there must be a monster?
This will be a really good one to ask the children to first discuss with the person next to them, but a speakers response/ answer might be 'Lines 1 and 2 A cup fell, and it can't fall on its own. Written might be (Lines 1 and 2) Marg thinks there must be a monster because a cup fell, and cups can't fall on their own'

d/ How do you think they felt?
Speakers might be along the lines of 'All lines (because this set the scene) Nervous and scared, perhaps anxious?
Writers answer might be 'Marg and Martin probably felt nervous because the cup fell and they weren't sure why. If it was a monster this would be a scary experience!'
They might have given really good descriptive words for feelings, and you might brainstorm others- they may then talk about other things that make them feel scared.

You might have asked them to write all the graphemes for a particular phoneme, on their whiteboards - eg the 'e' sound - words s/ay/s and th/e/n (so e and ay) or underline on the clear laminate sheet they have over the page. After use, rub it off.

You get the point.

We can spend 20 minutes doing this with one sentence page, with 5 or 6 words !

It's everything - oral language, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocab knowledge and comprehension. Costs nothing, and needs no preparation.

You can also do this with books that do not have controlled text, at any time, but you need to use Speedy Group Decoding first, if the children cannot decode the words independently.

This will help speed up the rate at which the students learn to read at 'Code level' with fluency and comprehension. Over the past 5 years we have been tracking the correlation between 'Code Level' reading and PM 'Level' as ascertained when teachers 'benchmark' students using the Cengage standardised tests. 
As far as we know we are the first to align these two very different approaches to teaching students to read in the beginning stages (whole language/ balanced literacy v systematic phonics instruction)  

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The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach. Wiring Brains® for Literacy. Code Mapping® and Monster Mapping®
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