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The Importance of Independent Reading for Developing Comprehension

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers use many strategies and methods to teach students to understand what they read. This lesson defines independent reading, explains why it is an important part of comprehension acquisition, and shows how it fits into a literacy program.

What Is Independent Reading?

Effective reading teachers understand their goal is to help students become insightful readers who develop a passion for reading a wide variety of text. Reading instruction should be designed using both curriculum standards, goals determined by the school or district, and specific student needs. In the course of reading instruction, teachers plan for a balance of whole, small group, and independent work.

This balanced literacy program builds time in for students to practice skills and concepts taught during instructional times, such as guided reading or read alouds, by incorporating independent reading. During this time, students are given a chance to read developmentally appropriate books. Let's take a closer look at independent reading.

Independent Reading in the Classroom

Debbie is a classroom teacher with a wide variety of readers. Some are just beginning to read and developing a sight word vocabulary while others are more fluent and can read books with little assistance. For all students, reading independently allows the practice of skills necessary for growth and comprehension.

Juan, for example, is an emergent reader. During guided reading time, a small group instructional practice, developmentally appropriate skills are taught. Juan and his group work on the skill of using picture clues to figure out unknown words. Later, Juan will read independently, practicing this skill with text.

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