Breaking the Guess and Go Habit

Guess and Go

Do you have a student that is fond of the guess and go method of reading? I know I see it often in my students. They glance at the first letter of a word and blurt out a word that starts with that sound.

This activity is great for helping to break that habit. I usually call it “reverse reading” on my lesson plan. It is as simple as it gets, but it is effective and my students usually enjoy it.

I always tell them that they are going to take a rest, and I’ll do the hard work of reading the cards. If I’m at a table across from them, I’ll note that to make it even harder I need to read the words upside down!

Set up

reverse reading closed syllables



I make a deck of whatever sort of words the student is working on. It’s a good time to include some review as well. I’m careful to add some words that are very similar. So if I was working on closed syllables, I might choose grab, grasp, grip, and grin. I might also add map, mop, met, mat. Or cap, cat, cash and crash,  I usually pick 15-40 words depending on the student. I spread them all out in front of the student. I line them up in a grid pattern face up.


I read the cards one at a time and the student finds the word and flips the card over. We continue until all words are face down.

You can watch them develop strategies.  My students will often almost pick up a word but then look more closely and notice that the vowel is not correct or the ending sound is different from the target word. It really forces them to look at the entire word.

Once the student has learned the procedure, the activity goes quickly. We can get through a large stack of word cards in a short time.

Some kids will watch your face intently and try to guess which card you read by where you are looking. I’ve gotten good faking them out by looking at one side of the table while saying a word on the other. It’s just another one of my finely honed teacher skills!


Occasionally I will ask them to flip the cards back over one by one and read them to me.

Use phonogram cards instead of word cards.

Use vocabulary cards. You provide definitions they flip over the matching word.

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