The Importance of Teaching Reading Strategies
Being able to read a certain paragraph and the words that string them together is one thing. Fully understanding what those words mean or what they actually say is another. It is quite common for students to understand every single word, or ever every single sentence in any given text, but comprehending the relationships between those sentences and what they ultimately mean as a whole is often such a frustrating exercise for them. Overcoming this is quite the challenge for the students, and even more so for teachers.
Here are a few items that I have found extremely helpful,
Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners
Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding
40 Reading Intervention Strategies for K-6 Students: Research-Based
Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension to Enhance Understanding
Dynamic Read-Aloud Strategies for English Learners: Building
As with any other profession, teaching requires the application of certain strategies. In the case of students having a difficult time understanding any given text that is given to them, a teacher must design and formulate teaching reading strategies that would help enable their students to plug whatever holes there are in their reading and comprehension skills. Since different students require different strategies, it would be the responsibility of the teacher to choose teaching reading strategies that would be most useful for them.
An important thing that teachers must remember when teaching reading strategies is that they should not mention to the students the name of the strategy being applied, at least until after they have completed exercises that fall under that particular strategy. The students are much too young to remember, much less understand, names of strategies that you are using.
When reading, students tend to encounter sentences or phrases that are confusing to them. If this happens inside your classroom, encourage your students to go back and read that sentence or phrase again. The moment they pinpoint the word, phrase, or sentence that they don’t understand, you can guide them towards understanding what it means, like giving them context clues, or even encouraging them to use a dictionary.
In any kind of reading, students tend to get stuck trying to figure out what a certain sentence or paragraph means. While this is a good sign that your students are interested and trying real hard to comprehend the text, it can cause some delays in the process. When this happens encourage them to move on and proceed with the rest of the text. Remind them that they can always go back to that certain part of the text until they finally understand what it is all about.
Most importantly, do not let initial difficulties understanding a text de-motivate your students. Make them understand that they can always try and try again, and assure them that you would be there to help them out until they get it.
Reading Activities That Parents Can Do With Their Children
Your child’s reading activities need not be confined inside the classroom. Neither does it require that only your child’s teachers must do them. On the contrary, parents like you are encouraged to get involved in the development of your child’s reading abilities. There is literally a world of reading activities that you can tap into, and some of them do not even have to involve books or just reading them a bedtime story.
Speaking of bedtime stories, if you’ve had a busy day at work and you’re too tired to read your child one, audio books of such storybooks can come in handy. All you have to do is flip the pages of the same book together with your child, in sync with the audio book. While you may not be using your own voice for this, you are still reading with your kid, and that is important.
One of the more interesting reading materials outside the realm of books is a restaurant or diner menu. It would be good if you can get your child to read the items there. However, it would be absolutely great if your child will finally be able to order off the menu, because its means he or she already understands what those printed words in the menu mean, that the words representing what she ordered is something that he or she really loves to eat.
When going for a walk with your child, try to make him or her read street names off the signs. A trip to the grocery store also provides lots of reading activities for your kid. When looking for cooking oil, for example, tell your child that you need cooking oil, then have him try to bring you to the right section by reading the signs above every aisle. The same goes for going to the mall. Encourage the child to read the names of the various shops.
There are plenty of reading activities that you can do with your child. Just remember that every single time you engage in these activities, never fail to provide positive reinforcement. A simple “that’s very good” does a lot of wonders for your kid. Be generous with your praise, and watch your child’s confidence soar.
What is Read 180?
Read 180 is a reading intervention program that is designed for students in grades 4 to 12 who have reading difficulties. Created by Scholastic in cooperation with Vanderbilt University, Read 180 makes use of audio, video and written assignments to help struggling readers make a turnaround—a 180 degree turn—in their reading abilities and become competent readers.
A typical Read 180 class is made up of students whose reading test results show that they are far behind their peers when it comes to reading skills. There are even students in a Read 180 class who are two or more years behind as far as reading abilities are concerned. In this class, paperback books that fall under the Read 180 curriculum are distributed for the students to read. Some of these books, which are usually works of fiction as well as about people and events in history, are even made to appear like comic books, which makes reading more fun and entertaining. After reading, the students are then made to answer written quizzes about the text they just read. Writing a journal is also part of the Read 180 program.
The use of technology is of paramount importance in the Read 180 program. Apart from the paperback books and workbooks that are handed to students, the Read 180 curriculum also involves the use of audio, video and computer programs to help students improve their reading.
The Read 180 curriculum comes with an interactive computer program, where students can play games that revolve around the themes, messages and words that can be found in the text that they read. The said program is also used to make students read aloud. Provided with headsets and computers, the students read aloud, which is then recorded and played back to show the student his or her accuracy in pronouncing the words in the text.
The software component is not just for the students. Teachers in a Read 180 curriculum also make use of a software that generates reports that helps them evaluate the performance of every student in a Read 180 class. The program tracks the progress of each student, from the number of homework that they are turning in to their performance in various areas of reading.
The Read 180 has proven to be successful in helping students raise their reading skills to new heights. As a matter of fact, Read 180 curriculums are now being implemented in many schools in the country.
Effective Reading Comprehension Strategies
Good reading teachers are expected to use different strategies to help improve the vocabulary and analytical abilities of their students. In implementing reading comprehension strategies in their teaching, a teacher has to consider the students in the class. If they’re already at a higher grade level, a direct teaching technique generally works. On the other hand, a younger class that is easily distracted might need a strategy that involves games. Either way, both are valid reading comprehension strategies, and are just two of many.
If the book has pictures in it, a teacher can have the students look at them and, tapping into their prior knowledge or experience, ask them to make predictions about the text they are about to read. After reading, a teacher must get them to see if their predictions hit their mark. This is basically one of the most effective reading comprehension strategies, as it helps the students make a connection with the text that they’re reading.
Another typical reading comprehension strategy is to conduct a question and answer session at the end of the lesson. It is a clear-cut way of finding out whether they understood what they have just read or not. A good teacher may also use questions that would remain unanswered by the end of the class as a homework opportunity, for them to go to the library or online to find the answers to.
If the text they just read involved some characters, egg them on to tell the class what they think of a character that caught their attention. Making the compare and contrast those characters would encourage them to develop opinions and the ability to see deeper than what meets their eye.
A younger class could also benefit from some role-playing. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most entertaining strategies that could be used in a reading class. Not only does it help the students see more perspectives of the book they’ve just finished reading, but also allows them to interpret certain situations and characters they way they see them in their head. Of course, this can only work when the material you’re having them read is one that involves a story, with a plot and characters. This means using this strategy on books explaining chemical reactions or how a car engine works is out of the question.
These are just a few of the many reading comprehension strategies out there. Implementing them, however, should not be limited to a classroom setting. Even parents can use them on their kids at home, and further improve their reading skills.
Importance of Guided Reading
Guided Reading is an instructional approach centered on the teacher and a small group of students working together for the purpose of learning effective reading comprehension strategies. Developed in New Zealand in the 1960s by literacy educators Myrtle Simpson and Ruth Trevor, guided reading works around the idea that reading abilities vary widely within any age group or grade level, and that success is assured when reading is done at the most appropriate levels.
In guided reading, students who exhibit similar reading levels, behaviors, strengths and needs are grouped together. Typically, a guided reading group is composed of two to four students, but can reach up to six. The rationale for grouping the students is that interactions between students of similar reading levels can greatly benefit everyone in that group.
In a guided reading session, the students are made to read what are now referred to as leveled books, which are basically books that are appropriate for the level of the students within the group. These books expose the students to a variety of information and words that, with the guidance of the teacher, should be easy enough for them to read with a measure of fluency. However, the text should also pose some challenges to the students, and allow problem-solving opportunities. Over time, the groups will be made to read increasingly difficult texts, for the purpose of eventually expanding their reading abilities.
A typical guided reading session, lasting 15 to 25 minutes, begins with the teacher introducing text for the students to read. The teacher would give some background on the text, and try to draw any prior knowledge about the material from the group. Then the group begins reading silently. After reading, the teacher would discuss the text with the students, and sometimes opts to deliver a mini-lesson afterwards. The teacher can also further broaden the meaning of the text they just read by incorporating activities like writing or text analysis. Through all this, the teacher will be there monitoring the entire session, and will attend to the reading needs of each member of the group.
Prepare Your Kid With Kindergarten Reading
Before enrolling your child in kindergarten and expecting them to learn to read throughout his stay there, you must first realize that kindergarten is more about teaching kids pre-reading skills. The focus is on teaching them the alphabet and how each one sounds. While some kindergarten curriculums get the kids to read simple materials later in the school year, most kindergartens typically prepare the children for all the reading that would be expected of them when they hit the first grade.
Generally, it is the kindergarten reading teacher’s job to help the kids be aware that the sounds of spoken language are represented by letters and letter patterns. It is also crucial for a teacher to inculcate in these kids during the entire learning process a love of reading.
But being the very young kids that they are, kindergarten pupils love to play, and play time is a major part of kindergarten life. Children enrolled in kindergartens also have very short attention spans. More often than not, they would not be able to absorb anything their teacher has to say. That’s why kindergarten reading teachers typically employ the tactic of constant repetition to get their wards to retain even just a little of what they’re teaching. A common teaching material is the flash card, one with pictures and words that they continually show to the kids, in the hopes that they will remember them. Some kids do pick up the words rapidly. Most, however, won’t. But this is not something parents should be concerned about. It is but natural for kids this young to not learn to read up to that point.
While it is common that most children in kindergarten do not know every single letter in the alphabet, the teacher and you, as a parent, can employ some techniques to help get the kids ready for reading. It is also both your jobs to impress upon the children how fun reading can be.
Teaching Reading Comprehension Skills
A language teacher has many tasks, but none are bigger than teaching reading comprehension. It is practically the basis for all kinds of learning, a prerequisite for just about every subject taught in school. Without proper reading comprehension skills, it would be very difficult for anyone to learn subjects as complicated as math or science, or fully understand something as terribly simple as a restaurant menu. In the real world, good reading comprehension skills are definitely a plus.
Teaching reading comprehension is one of the most important duties an educator must perform. As a language teacher, he or she must apply methods or techniques that would make reading comprehension a much easier endeavor. In cases where the teacher has students that have reading disabilities, it is also his or her job to design and formulate strategies that would help improve their lack of reading comprehension skills.
One way of teaching reading comprehension is to work on students’ vocabularies. This makes perfect sense, because there is no way that a child could understand what a certain passage is trying to say if the words in it are alien to him or her. So every time a word that nobody understands pops up within a text, a teacher should take time to explain its meaning. The teacher later on can them involve the students in exercises that would help them not only remember that certain word, but also how to use it in various sentences. The teacher can also give them reading assignments that would require the students to highlight words within a passage that they don’t know the meaning of, and have it discussed inside the classroom.
A great way of teaching reading comprehension is making them learn how to use context clues to guess the meaning of a word. Context clues are words or phrases that are built into the sentences around a tough word. With these clues, students can figure out what a certain word is all about. Making them practice this skill on a regular basis will greatly help with their reading comprehension ability.
Good reading comprehension can also be developed by encouraging students to visualize the material they’re reading. It would definitely make reading something like a Harry Potter book more interesting, with images of dragons spewing fire across a Quidditch field or of wizards casting spells one after the other.
Dealing With Reading Disabilities
A significant part of the world’s population is affected by reading disabilities. The people who suffer from them often find basic reading skills difficult. They tend to be poor at word recognition, decoding words, comprehension, phrasing and fluency. For some people who suffer from such disabilities, they have no problems reading a text aloud, but, chances are, they do not remember, much less understand, the passage that they just read. It can be incredibly frustrating for a student with a reading disability to do reading tasks, no matter how much they are interested in doing so. Making it tougher is the fact that their weakness in reading affects other aspects of their academic lives. As a result, it has become quite common for children with reading disabilities to avoid reading. Their self-esteem and motivation are shot, knowing that they are behind their peers in class.
What people have to realize is that having a reading disability is not synonymous with level of intelligence. More often than not, people with reading disabilities have normal IQs, or sometimes even higher IQs than their peers who do not suffer from the condition. Reading disability is a learning disability. Simply put, their reading ability needs a lot of work, and working hard is the only way for any of them to overcome their condition.
Like most learning disabilities, a reading disability is basically neurological in nature. Someone with a reading disability often has problems with their brain’s visual reasoning and language processing centers. Apart from comprehension problems, it is also common for them to read text aloud without much expression or rhythm.
In case you think that your child has a reading disability, you can always have him or her tested. There are diagnostic reading tests that can help determine and pinpoint particular reading problems. Experts can also perform such processes as analyzing your child’s reading work, cognitive assessment and plain observation of your child’s reading skills. Should your child be identified as having a reading disability, don’t think twice about asking for help. A reading disability, after all, does not get better on its own. If you want your child to catch up, it is better if they receive help from dedicated educators who can design and come up with reading strategies that may help your child overcome a reading disability.