Reading difficulties usually begin as early as kindergarten. Children who have not mastered reading skills by third grade will continue to fall behind their peers and probably never catch up without the right interventions. Reading interventions are activities and strategies that help struggling readers develop their ability to read.
Struggling readers can be students who are not able to decode, or break up, words into syllables. Through decoding, students sound out unfamiliar words they encounter while reading. On the other hand, you may have a reader who can decode but cannot comprehend what they're reading. It's also possible to have a reader who can comprehend and decode, but whose oral reading is poor. The reader may orally read very slowly, mispronounce many of the words, or read in monotone without expression. This type of reader has problems with fluency.
In all cases, the use of reading intervention programs, strategies, and activities will help get your students on track.
Several reading programs are available to help support your struggling readers. Two such programs include Scholastic's Read 180 and Corrective Reading.
Read 180 is a research-based program that teachers use for reading intervention. The program is available to students beginning in fourth grade and uses a four-part model for instruction that includes whole group, small group, computer-assisted instruction, and independent reading. In this program, your whole group of students spends about 10 minutes with you engaged in activities like watching video clips about a story they will be reading or completing activities that will support their ability to read. After this whole group interaction, students spend about 20 minutes in each of the other areas.
Corrective Reading is usually used for older struggling readers who have not developed good reading skills by the time they reach middle grades. Many teachers like this program because it's scripted. It tells them what to say and when to say it. For example, you would tell your students to point to a word. You would say the word and ask your students to repeat it. The program includes instruction in word recognition (decoding), oral reading (fluency), and reading comprehension.
There are several reading strategies that you can use to strengthen your students' reading skills:
- Activate students' background knowledge before they read a story. Before reading about Jack and the Beanstalk you may ask your students to describe what a beanstalk looks like or talk about a time they disobeyed their parents. By doing this, you will give them a background to the story.
- Repeated readings are often used to expose students to a text several times. The more familiar your students become with the reading, the better they will become at understanding it.
- Read aloud/think aloud gives your struggling readers the opportunity to hear good reading and thinking skills modeled. When your students think about what they're reading, they're able to ask questions about or respond to the story during reading.
- As you read the text to your students, stop periodically to ask questions. For example, as you're reading about Jack and his beanstalk, you may stop and point out 'I think Jack's mom is going to be upset with him,' or 'I wonder what's going to happen to Jack when he climbs the beanstalk?'
One of the ways in which you can encourage your struggling readers is to use technology. There are numerous books on audio as well as books that have been adapted into movies. Students will enjoy the opportunity to follow along with the text while hearing the words read to them or see the printed words of a book come to life in movie format.
Another idea is for you to find books that have been printed in various formats, including graphic novels, comic books, or plays. Your students may find the images in the graphic novels or comic books fascinating, and the images could also help them comprehend the story a lot better if they see actions that go along with the words.
Using plays as reading materials will motivate your students to read, especially if you throw in the bonus of letting them act out certain scenes. This will motivate them to actively read for understanding so that they will be able to act out their parts effectively.
Reading interventions are activities and strategies that help struggling readers develop their ability to read. Meeting the needs of struggling readers may be a challenge, but you can support their ability to become better readers by using reading programs, implementing intervention strategies, and engaging them in activities that will motivate them to become better readers.
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You read about two reading programs in the lesson, Read 180 and Corrective Reading. Which of these programs do you think is superior and why? If you struggled with reading as a child, which do you think would have worked best for you? For example, you may think that Read 180 is superior because it has so many different components, or that Corrective Reading is better because it tells teachers word-for-word what to say and do.
Imagine that you are a second-grade teacher focusing on literacy and reading in early childhood. You have a group of 12 students, all of whom fall within the normal range of language, word recognition, and phonemic awareness. You want to employ a strategy to help facilitate reading fluency and comprehension. Which of the four strategies you read about in the lesson (activate background knowledge, repeated readings, read aloud, and asking questions) do you think you would employ, and why? For example, you may feel that asking questions is the best strategy because it really gets students to think about why the story is unfolding as it is and what will happen next, which will increase their involvement with and interest in the story.
Develop a list of pros and cons (at least three each) you think might be associated with having students watch a movie of a book. For example, a pro might be that their interest in the story will be piqued, perhaps increasing their interest in reading the book at a later date. A con might be that—having seen a movie—they see no point in reading when a movie can easily be watched.
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