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200+ Proven Strategies for Teaching Reading, Grades K-8: support the needs of struggling readers

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This book is unique in that it goes beyond individual teacher assistance to provide creative systems that work in concert with a student’s literacy education. This easy-to-use reference guide provides K–8 teachers with practical strategies to motivate all students to develop their reading abilities across grade levels and content areas. Focus on what early-literacy instruction and intervention struggling students should receive and what tips parents should know to help struggling readers. With instructional practices that can be adapted for a wide range of academic interventions, this book shows educators where to start in building an action plan for student literacy achievement. It is an ideal professional development resource for team study and discussion.

Benefits

  • Gain insight into the early signs of reading struggles.
  • Examine relevant theory and research related to literacy, including the fundamental elements of reading that need to work in balance in literacy instruction.
  • Review questioning strategies to help students broaden their understanding when reading challenging texts.
  • Explore graphic organizers that can engage higher-level thinking skills.
  • Survey a toolbox of instructional practices for supporting literacy in inclusive classrooms.
  • Study a blueprint for success for literacy programs.

Contents

Introduction

  1. The Struggling Reader
  2. Key Elements of Balanced Literacy Programs
  3. Effective Early Literacy Intervention
  4. Vocabulary Strategies—Helping Students Become Word Wise
  5. Graphic Organizers—Making Thinking Visible
  6. Content Strategies—Navigating Informational Text
  7. Questioning Techniques—Fostering Higher-Level Thinking
  8. Developing an Action Plan for Success

Appendix: Teacher’s Toolbox

References and Resources

Index

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9 Chapters

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1 The Struggling Reader

ePub

What comes to mind when you hear the term struggling reader? Does it bring to mind specific descriptors, such as slow, frustrated, or unmotivated? To struggle as a reader means to cope with an inability to perform well. Quite simply, struggling readers lack the essential literacy skills of proficient readers. But what does that mean in practice? The term struggling reader often implies a single category defined by a single problem. In reality, however, a wide range of reading problems are identified in school. Some struggling students can’t read the text. Others might have difficulty comprehending the meaning of what they read. Still others are just not interested in what they are reading. Students might read below grade level or be challenged with phonics, fluency, or vocabulary. No two struggling readers will have identical profiles.

Struggling readers have not developed a reading system that allows them to construct meaning. They have often felt defeated, which has contributed to a negative attitude that has turned off their desire to read. Many have adopted an attitude of learned helplessness and may exhibit inappropriate behaviors to mask their inability to read and comprehend. However, struggling is not the same as failing. Narrow definitions are limiting to students rather than helpful. According to the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English (2010), all students “have a right to instruction designed with their specific needs in mind.”

 

2 Key Elements of Balanced Literacy Programs

ePub

If you were asked to create an effective program for all readers, and in particular, struggling readers, what elements would you include? This chapter helps teachers put the pieces of the puzzle together and structure a balanced literacy program. How do the components fit together to propel your students forward as better readers and writers? How do you weave effective instruction into each component to maximize the success of your students? In a truly balanced literacy program, it is about not just what you teach but also how you teach. Make each minute count in the instructional day because struggling readers don’t have a minute to lose!

Research supports literacy instruction that addresses several aspects of the reading process in balance: phonics and the alphabetic code, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary development. In their landmark report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998), the National Research Council notes that students need to understand the sound-symbol relationships of letters and words and must apply this understanding to read and spell words. In addition, they need to engage in wide reading and understand new vocabulary to boost fluency. Students also need to know what strategies to use so they can self-monitor as they read.

 

3 Effective Early Literacy Intervention

ePub

Strong fundamental literacy skills are essential for student success and ongoing reading proficiency. Effective early literacy instruction involves many considerations, including developmentally appropriate settings and classrooms, a print-rich environment with adequate materials and resources, and a supportive learning environment where literacy can flourish. To help them become better readers, young students need to be read to, they need writing to help them learn about reading, they need reading to help them learn about writing, and they need oral language to help them learn about both reading and writing (Roskos, Christie, & Richgels, 2003). Furthermore, in the early literacy stages, it is important to integrate play to make literacy activities more meaningful and engaging for students. Effective early literacy intervention integrates these elements into the broader communication network that students need to make sense of their experiences, their world, and the texts that they encounter.

 

4 Vocabulary Strategies: Helping Students Become Word Wise

ePub

Vocabulary development is critical to literacy achievement. One of the most persistent findings in reading research is that the extent of students’ vocabulary knowledge relates directly to their ability to comprehend and to their overall reading success (Baumann, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003). Vocabulary knowledge is also one of the best predictors of verbal ability (Jensen, 1980). It is important to note that people possess four distinct and overlapping vocabularies: (1) listening, (2) reading (receptive language), (3) speaking, and (4) writing (expressive language). Young students have much larger listening and speaking vocabularies than reading and writing vocabularies. Helping students further develop their vocabularies is a challenge for educators.

Teachers need a variety of “fab vocab” strategies that are active, engaging ways to expand the listening and speaking vocabulary of their students. These techniques are hands-on, practical, and effective—well suited to busy classroom literacy programs. As students increase their vocabularies, they boost their reading comprehension and strengthen their ability to tackle informational text. In developing and enhancing your program for word learning, keep in mind that the program of instruction you create for students should be personal, active, flexible, and strategic.

 

5 Graphic Organizers: Making Thinking Visible

ePub

Are you looking for ways to help students with their retention in reading, improve their writing process, and enhance their organizational skills? Graphic organizers, such as diagrams, concept maps, word webs, frames, charts, and clusters, illustrate concepts and relationships between ideas in a text. Students use these visual representations of knowledge to structure information (Bromley, DeVitis, & Modlo, 1999). Graphic organizers also help students stay focused on content material and can reinforce previously learned material. They encourage higher-level thinking skills and active thinking. Multiple studies have validated that graphic organizers do indeed increase comprehension (Darch, Carnine, & Kame’enui, 1986; Horton, Lovitt, & Bergerud, 1990; Marzano et al., 2001).

Graphic organizers help students who struggle with writing activities organize their ideas. Students who find note taking challenging, whether they are taking notes on the main idea and details from a text or notes from a class discussion or lesson, get support from graphic organizers. Graphic organizers are important visual learning tools for teachers as well. Teachers can use them to help make new ideas easier to understand and learn (Meyen, Vergason, & Whelan, 1996). This chapter focuses on using graphic organizers as an engaging, research-based method to improve students’ conceptual understanding and comprehension.

 

6 Content Strategies: Navigating Informational Text

ePub

This chapter focuses on specific strategies to help students better comprehend informational texts. Making content comprehensible across the curriculum for struggling readers can be a daunting task. Sandra McCormick (2007) states that expository texts, also known as informational texts (textbooks, journal articles, lab procedures, and government documents, for example), are more difficult to comprehend than narrative texts (such as realistic and historical fiction, myths, fairy tales, plays, and legends). According to William Twining (1991), there are five reasons for this lack of reading comprehension.

1.Failure to understand a word

2.Failure to understand a sentence

3.Failure to understand how sentences relate to one another

4.Failure to understand how the information fits together in a meaningful way (organization of text)

5.Lack of interest or concentration

Students first learn to read narrative, story-like text structures with a beginning, middle, and end sequence. Then there is a shift to more expository, informational text structures, especially with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Increased emphasis on reading expository texts means learning and applying strategies for comprehending these texts is critical. Leigh Hall (2005) states that failure to comprehend informational text may result in a “ripple effect” across the curriculum, including an inability to learn the required course content, a lack of understanding of academic vocabulary, an inability to successfully pass tests, decreased self-confidence, and even behavioral problems. Therefore, for students to be successful in today’s information age, they need to be able to gain meaning from a variety of texts (Mason, Meadan, Hedin, & Corso, 2006; Montelongo & Hernandez, 2007).

 

7 Questioning Techniques to Foster Higher-Level Thinking

ePub

Increasing reading comprehension through questioning techniques is a vital instructional strategy. Struggling readers tend not to ask themselves questions as they read. Questioning helps students engage with text and make sense of what they read. The ability to generate questions while reading not only increases attention and alertness but also strengthens comprehension (Farstrup & Samuels, 2002). Other benefits of questioning include:

Sharing ideas and connections about the text or lesson

Involving students in the lesson

Identifying and exploring different types of information

Increasing interest and engagement

Fostering creative thinking

Supporting independent learning

Reviewing previous learning and lessons taught

Evaluating students’ knowledge

Monitoring completion of work or reading

Assessing achievement of lesson outcomes, goals, or standards

Stimulating extension of learning with peers

Having students self-assess and modifying or extending their thinking

 

8 Developing an Action Plan for Success

ePub

This final chapter provides a blueprint for success in your literacy program. So far, this book has examined the characteristics of struggling readers, instructional practices, student engagement strategies, and intervention tools. Now we will explore how to organize and manage your literacy classroom, design an action plan, receive ongoing professional development, and maintain and accelerate literacy achievement for all your students.

Reaching your struggling readers requires dedication, commitment, and an integrated literacy program across the content areas and grade levels. As struggling students move up through the grades, the curriculum and knowledge continue to build and the achievement gap widens unless intervention steps are taken. If students aren’t proficient readers, they will fall further behind. Literacy skills are the key to student success.

It is important to provide new information for struggling readers in multiple contexts over time (Allington, 2012). In today’s classrooms, nothing is more essential to successful teaching and learning than strategy-based instructional techniques that engage even the most reluctant and struggling student. Repeated but meaningful practice can significantly increase students’ potential for success. This can be a daunting task and challenging for busy teachers like you who are trying to accomplish too much in too little time. Give yourself permission to take baby steps on your journey to reach and teach all your students. Try one strategy at a time. You need to feel successful as well. The strategies in this book are designed to empower you, the classroom teacher, to implement an effective course of action that makes a difference for student achievement.

 

Teacher’s Toolbox

ePub

Students deserve the best strategies educators can offer to ignite their interest and excite them about reading. I gathered this toolbox of easy-to-implement techniques from classrooms throughout the United States during my years of teaching as a general educator, special educator, and literacy coach. I now have the privilege of teaching teachers, and I see these strategies used with great success in their classrooms.

After students have read a chapter or story or learned new information in a lesson, provide them with think time to make sense of the content.

Pose a question to the class.

Ask students to prepare a thirty-second speech about the main ideas they learned and their answer to the question.

Students then deliver their thirty-second speech with a learning partner.

This process enhances literacy skills and fosters social interaction.

Use this strategy to activate the beginning of a lesson or as a tool for summarizing at the end of a lesson. Give students an ABC grid (see page 69) with an empty box for each letter. They can work independently, in pairs, or as a team to complete their grid with words starting with that letter that relate to the topic they are studying.

 

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