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Teaching Tony to Read: Session 3

By Christie


Today was my third Targeted Reading session with Tony. Just like when I arrived for our previous session, Tony greeted me with a smile and a book. He wanted to show me his homework for the evening, which was to read a short story and then write about his favorite part. He had told me that he had already read the book, but I asked him if he could read it to me again. Tony read the book with great expression, giving each of the two characters a different voice and using punctuation marks to help dictate his tone. Also impressive, was the fact that Tony was reading sight words he learned in the last two weeks without any hesitation! I complemented him on how well he read. I can tell by Tony’s actions and his enthusiasm for reading books that he has great confidence.

After reading his book, Tony immediately told me his favorite part of the story and wrote about it. I used this opportunity as a teachable moment to review book elements with Tony. He was able to identify the title, author, front and back covers, characters, setting, and main idea of the book. Our third Targeted Reading session was off to a great start!


Sight words are given their name for a reason; these words often break the normal spelling rules and are words that have to be learned and memorized by sight. Tony really excels at knowing letter sounds and spelling rules, so today when given sight words with irregular patterns, he was a little bit frustrated. He tries so hard to read every word correctly and just does not understand why he can not sound out every word. I reminded him that he does a great job sounding out words but some words are “Rule Breakers”. We just have to study them a little bit more until they are automatic. I pointed out to him that since these words are hard, we make flashcards to study from. Tony told me that he now understands and he is going to study and learn all of the 10 flashcards so he will be able to read them all to me at our next Targeted Reading session.


With each session Tony becomes more comfortable working with me. He is able to ask me questions or tell me when he does not understand something. The fact that he has opened up to me helps in teaching him to read. His openness allows me to know what he needs more work on and what he already understands. Tony and I are developing a great working relationship.

After listening to Tony read and discuss his school assignment, he practiced building words with new starter and vowel pattern cards. He built words together again by using a starter card (single consonant) and placing it next to vowel pattern card with the short /o/ vowel sound on it (op, ob, ot, etc.). Tony did a fantastic job building words today and rapidly moved through his vowel pattern cards. I then introduced to him ending cards and our first ending was adding -s. I placed the ending card onto words Tony had previously built and he was able to correctly pronounce the new words. We then discussed when and why we add -s to words in instances like when they are plural.

Tony’s words with multiple meanings today were top, pop, and rob (all words he just built with starter and vowel cards earlier in the session). For all three words Tony came up with a meaning instantly, but finding an additional meaning took some prompting and questioning. I really wanted Tony to find the other meanings on his own, so I did not just directly tell him them. Through prompting and questioning, Tony did come up with additional meanings and was very happy he was able to do so. I then had him create sentences and/or role play sentences that demonstrated the many different meanings of his three words.

Tony read two new stories of the week today and breezed through the first story, but got a little held up on the second. The second story contained some compound words and when Tony came upon these words, looked up at me with a frightened face. I then explained to him how compound words are just two words smushed together. While reading, he stopped on the word SOMETIMES. To help, I took out a piece of paper and folded it in half, writing SOME on one half and TIMES on the other. I had him read each word individually and then opened up the paper and asked him to smush the words together, and sure enough he did and read SOMETIMES correctly. We continued this exercise for other compound words and when we reread the story a second time, Tony was able to read all of his compound words correctly.

The final activity of our session was to review and learn new sight words. As I mentioned earlier in Best Practice, Tony was a little frustrated today because he could not just sound out many of these sight words. I took out his flashcards from the two previous sessions and had him read all twenty. From this twenty, he read seventeen correctly. We moved those seventeen to the mastered reading slot in his word box and kept the three he missed in his practice slot. I then had him continue to read words from his common sight word list until he was unable to read seven more. We made flashcards for those seven and added them to the other three behind the practice slot. Mastering sight words is a process, but Tony is on the right track.

Targeted Reading session 3 with Tony was both enjoyable and successful. I am seeing Tony improve in so many areas of reading and maintaining the knowledge of new things he learns from session to session. Our working relationship is great and can only get stronger. The more I can identify Tony’s strengths and weaknesses, the more I can do to help him grow in his reading ability. I am very happy with the progress in just three Targeted Reading sessions that I have seen with Tony and am excited to continue building upon his reading ability in our sessions yet to come!

The continuation of Tony’s progress has moved to the new K&M Center Blog at Check it out to see how Tony is doing.

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