With summer break on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to not only better help struggling readers in the classroom, but understand what helps them improve and want to read when they’re at home.

More than 10 million American students struggle to read, but only 2.3 million are identified and even fewer receive special help; therefore, schools must provide support for struggling students by creating a culture of reading. In “45 Ways to Support Struggling Readers: A School-Wide Approach,” hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by Learning Ally, Terrie Noland, Learning Ally National Director, Educator Engagement; and Kristy Mathieu, Kiker Elementary, Austin, TX, presented tips for how schools can support struggling readers in the classroom and at home.

Here are 5 of those tips (for more tips, click on the link at the bottom of the article for the full webinar):

1. Provide Students with a Comfortable Place for Reading

Mathieu implemented flexible seating into her classroom, which allows students to sit in a more relaxed environment as opposed to sitting in rows. Seats that allow for natural movement, such as stools that move, are also helpful for children with attention issues.

2. Give Struggling Readers a Fidget Object

Mathieu even provides toys for students to fidget with while reading, like putty, because some struggling readers may become anxious while trying to read. Kristy commented on her classroom setup, “It doesn’t matter to me where you’re working—as long as you’re working.”

(Next page: Tips for struggling readers 3-5)

3. Create At-School and Summer-Long Contests

Be a reading cheerleader by having your school participate in a “read more pages” contest. These kinds of contests spark student interest and conversation around books. Mathieu noted that “The Great Reading Games” contest, put on by Learning Ally, always gets her students particularly excited about the books they are reading. She makes sure to keep the focus on making great efforts and setting realistic goals, rather than winning. The students at Kiker Elementary have already set their goals for next year.

4. Offer Books in Multiple Formats

Spark all students’ love of reading by leveling the playing field with audiobooks and encouraging them that reading in any format is fine. “I always let them know that I listen to audiobooks, and that it’s okay. Anytime you’re reading, that’s reading, no matter what it looks like,” said Mathieu.

5. Set Up a Struggling Reader Buddy System

Schools and parents can also have older students and friends partner up with younger kids that have recently been identified as dyslexic. The older students help the younger students see that they aren’t alone, and show them that things will get easier. With programs like these, schools and parents can ensure all readers have the support they need.

About the Presenters

Terrie Noland is the National Director, Educator Engagement for Learning Ally. She has more than 22 years of experience as both a trainer and developer of content for educators and administrators. Her focus for the past five years has been on the pedagogical practices needed to create effective environments for students with dyslexia. Terrie has trained groups numbering in the thousands helping to build better understanding of working with struggling readers. She is currently pursuing certification as an academic language therapist.

Kristy Mathieu Kristy Mathieu is a teacher at Kiker Elementary School in Austin, TX. She has led an initiative in her own 3rd grade general education classroom to create universally designed instructional practices so that all students, including those with learning disabilities, can succeed. As a certified academic language therapist, she integrates an Orton-Gillingham multisensory program as a center rotation in her classroom. In addition, she has created learning spaces with flexible seating that promote student independence and choice. Kristy’s teaching method, innovative practices, and love for teaching have been recognized by Austin ISD. Her classroom has become a model for others to follow.

Join the Community

Empowering Struggling Readers is a free professional learning community that provides educators, administrators, special educators, curriculum leaders, and librarians a place to collaborate on how to turn struggling readers into thriving students.

This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by Learning Ally

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net.View more edWeb.net events here.]

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.