How NOT to Teach Reading: “Does it make sense?”

I Guess Not!

Part Four of a 12-part video series showing the flaws of common word reading strategies taught in schools– Moral: Do not teach struggling readers to guess!


Does it make sense? – Elephant Ears Strategy:

The strategy “Elephant Ears” asks children to guess at unknown words based off of the context of the sentence. If a child reads a sentence and the word doesn’t seem to fit, they should ask themselves “Did that make sense?” It then prompts the child to think about what other word would fit, that starts with the same letter as the word that doesn’t seem to make sense. The problem with this strategy is that it encourages guessing and, ultimately, can result in more dysfluent, difficult reading.

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Jennifer Salisbury

In 2004, Jennifer joined Teach for America as a special educator where she taught kindergarten through fifth grade. Her passion for reading instruction led her to be trained in a program based on the Orton-Gillingham method. After achieving significant results with her students, she began conducting trainings to help strengthen other teachers’ reading instruction. “My motivation as a teacher is to share my love of learning, and my gift has been working with struggling readers. There is no better feeling than to help someone become a strong reader and independent learner.” Jennifer earned a B.A. in Global studies University of California Santa Barbara and M.S. in Special Education from Lehman College.