To my everlasting shame, I used flashcards with my junior high struggling readers. With all of my heart, I wish I could go back and do those years over again. Why did I quit when I began tutoring readers?
First Reason: My job as a teacher who specializes in literacy is to provide learning opportunities that inspire a reader to enjoy the process of thinking through a text. There is nothing enjoyable about flashcards. While not all activities that a student does will be enjoyable 100% of the time, I do employ this no-flashcards-approach especially for students who are already lacking motivation or desire. Don't bore them further with a boring task! There are other strategies to use that are far more fun and meaningful to help a reader see the word multiple times while helping them view reading as a meaningful, fun, worthwhile endeavor!
Second Reason: Flashcards are not reading. Reading is thinking about the meaning of the text. There is no thinking outside of word identification and is not allowing students to put to use a variety of word identification strategies. The problem with flashcards is that it was taking away valuable reading time. Students need to spend time in contextual reading. Is this possible with readers who are in the very beginning stages of reading? I believe so! Thankfully creative people have come up with riddles, songs, games, mini-book series, &etc. that make this entirely possible. My tutoring students and my eldest child are a testament to this fact.
Third Reason: There are a variety of other strategies that research has proven more effective. If I am going to ensure that readers have the tools in order to effectively read anything on their own, I am going to give them the best, most effective, literacy-based, instructional activities that help them gain reading skills while also learning to love reading.
Do you still use flashcards in your reading instruction? If so, why? Also, what is your reader's response to them? Do you believe they're the most effective use of your time? I'd love to hear your thoughts as to why you do or do not use flashcards to help readers gain automatic word identification.
If this type of instruction would benefit your struggling reader, contact me! I cannot wait to help!
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