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By Reading Horizons Director of Teacher Training, Shantell Berrett
The New Year brings with it the opportunity to reflect back on the previous year and to look at what went well and what we hope to do differently in the coming year. For many of us, it is easy to get caught up in the negative thought pattern that things can’t really change. We may have experienced a hope for change and may have made efforts to change something only to have it not “stick.” While every effort for positive change is beneficial, we may have the best intentions but may not have the best resources for effective and lasting change.
When I was teaching English to 8th graders, I remember the strong desire to call in sick on the day I had to teach concepts like adding inflectional suffixes or the pronunciations and spellings when using y as a vowel. There was no structure or systematic way to present the information. It felt like I was given a bucket of information that I just dumped in front of my students for them to sort through and pick and choose what they could understand and use.
However, as I have learned and trained teachers in the Reading Horizons methodology, I have learned:
The way a concept is instructed and practiced determines whether it creates an effective and sustainable habit. (Tweet!)
Here are some videos highlighting specific processes taught in the Reading Horizons methodology that help struggling readers receive the instruction and practice that allow them to develop positive reading habits:
The Process of Dictation
Crucial Steps in the Process of Teaching Struggling Readers
Five Phonetic Skills
Two Decoding Skills
Reading Horizons is a proven resource that produces effective and lasting change for both teachers and students. The strategies that teachers learn in the Reading Horizons methodology will change the way they teach reading. Teachers gain an understanding of the structure of English that empowers them to teach numerous aspects of language arts.
teaching habits, teaching reading, struggling readers, teachers 2013, decoding strategies, professional development for teachers
Teaching Help Videos | Teaching Reading Tips
There are two types of people in the world: those that make New Year’s resolutions and those that don’t. (And yes, that was an adaptation of this quote from What About Bob?: “There are two types of people in the world: those that like Neil Diamond and those that don’t. My ex-wife loves him.”)
I myself have been both types of people (I don’t even know how to make that sentence grammatically correct – do enlighten me!). There are years where there is such an obvious resolution to make and years where I’m overwhelmed just maintaining what I am doing that the last thing I’m going to do is expend any mental energy to make a resolution I feel no resolve (or energy) to keep.But, in light of the cultural pressure to at least acknowledge the concept of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve thought a lot about change and goals lately. I’ve thought about times when I succeeded at making a change and times when I failed. I have memories of changes that I made almost instantaneously and naturally. I have memories of changes that occurred over the course of my entire life. My conclusion: the secret to change is change. Not every resolution or goal I have ever made has resulted in sustainable change. But… our failures to sustain good habits can be just as important for helping us create good habits as are our successes. Failure tells us when we need to refine our approach; success tells us we have found something that works. (Tweet!) In order to get the information we need to evaluate whether something is a success or failure: we have to try lots of new things. Just because your first approach doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you can’t change, or that there isn’t a better way. It just means you need to refine your approach or try a new one. If you keep changing things that aren't working, you will find things that are effective and natural to sustain. Now, to get back to the title of this post, here are our 12 most popular blog posts of 2012. The tips and advice might not be the perfect approach for you and your students, but the only way to know is to try them out and see what happens. At least they will give you some ideas of things to try so you can start to refine your approach.
12 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2012
And, if none of these strategies work for you: hit the books!
teaching esl, teaching reading to esl students, teaching reading, struggling readers, beginning readers, literacy instruction, esl
Teaching Reading Tips
Because struggling readers have a history of struggling, they can be very closed off and resistant to working on their reading skills. Not because they don’t want to succeed, but because they don’t believe they will succeed. As a result of this, it is very important when working with a struggling reader to that you are very confident in the effectiveness of your approach. You should always do your best to use research-based best practices that are explicit, systematic, and multi-sensory. If you can’t deliver quality reading instruction that is simple for a struggling reader to understand, you can leave the student feeling even more resistant and closed off to working on their reading skills in the future. Once you are confident you have an effective approach for teaching struggling readers, here are some additional tips from Reading Horizons Director of Teacher Training, Shantell Berrett, about how to get started with working with a struggling reader.
The best place to start with struggling readers is letting them know reading is not out of reach. (Tweet!)
Struggling readers need two things: understanding and a safe environment. (Tweet!)
Reading problems rarely have anything to do with intelligence. (Tweet!)
Reading problems are usually the result of the way the brain is wired or gaps in reading instruction. (Tweet!)
Make it safe for struggling readers to struggle while learning to read. (Tweet!)
teaching reading, struggling readers, how to start teaching a struggling reader
Teaching Help Videos | Teaching Reading Tips
Sometimes all it takes to help your struggling readers make dramatic improvements in their reading skills are simple tweaks to the way things are presented. Here is Reading Horizons Teacher Trainer, Shantell Berrett, discussing best practices in the process that reading is taught to beginning and struggling readers:
Here are Shantell’s tips for teaching various aspects of reading:Letter Instruction
Learn more & earn PD credit in Reading Horizons free webinar: Helping Students Transfer & Retain Decoding Skills >Blend Instruction
These processes and sequences are important because what most struggling readers lack is processing and sequence ability. The way they see words is from more of a spatial perspective. The sequence that information is presented is vital to help them rewire their brains to see words in a way that will allow them to improve their reading skills.
teaching reading, teaching phonics, phonics instruction, is phonics effective, reading programs, beginning readers, struggling readers, literacy
Teaching Help Videos | Teaching Reading Tips
By Reading Horizons Reading Specialist, Stacy Hurst
This is my first year as a full time employee for Reading Horizons. In truth, I love my new job but I do have a confession to make. I miss the energy-charged feeling that accompanies the end of the school year as teachers and students anticipate the change of pace that summer vacation provides. However, I also clearly remember the elevated concern that most teachers feel about the effect that the summer months will have on the progress of students they have worked so hard with throughout the school year.
Research validates their concerns showing that struggling readers in particular lose ground during the summer months compared to their non-struggling peers. This widening gap not only diminishes the instructional time invested by the previous years’ teacher, it adds to the instructional load of next years’ teacher. Many schools have implemented summer reading programs in the hope of narrowing the gap. Teachers at my previous school (Go Miners!) volunteered three hours weekly so students could have access to books on their level throughout the summer. We even included a story time so preschool students would be likely to check out books as well preparing them for literate futures. Overall, we didn’t see the effects we would have liked to see with the summer reading program. Now I know why.Recently, I found this 2009 article from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The study is fascinating and I recommend that you take the time to read it. Building on the evidence that access to books on a student’s level was not enough to bridge the gap, researchers designed an alternate program for 3rd through 5th grade students. It begins with teachers preparing students before the end of the school year (while they are still on contract time- bonus!). It continues with students receiving post cards throughout the summer reminding them of comprehension and fluency strategies that were introduced during the school year. Accountability included the students returning a different postcard (follow the previous link for a PDF) via ‘snail mail’ with a record of their performance. Results very much favored students who participated at this level of instruction compared with students involved at lower levels of instruction and accountability.The study definitely spurred thoughts on how to improve summer reading programs aimed at struggling readers. My thoughts, however, were turned to ways that technology could improve upon this research. It seems that INSTRUCTION is necessary in addition to application of reading skills. Most school districts lack funding for such instruction and many teachers do not have the time to contribute to such instruction as they are typically involved in professional (and personal) development activities during summer months.How can the needs of struggling readers be met effectively over the summer months? I suggest that the answer to that question involves technological resources (such as apps, online software, email, virtual classrooms, etc…) as well as teacher expertise. Classroom teachers would be able to monitor student progress and communicate, via email, with their students offering encouragement, accountability, and suggestions for improvement. This approach, combined with access to leveled books, sounds promising to me as an educator. I will definitely be discussing this with my teacher friends as they prepare for the end of this school year. What are some effective summer reading programs that you have seen? Feel free to share!
educational technology, summer reading, struggling readers, summer school
Education Research | Summer Reading
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Angela Stevens Marketing Manager
Heidi Hyte Curriculum Director
Stacy Hurst Reading Specialist