Strong literacy skills help students build a foundation for success in school and beyond. But students’ reading skills are stumbling, and in some cases, the declines have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and limited access to learning resources during virtual and hybrid education.
Reading comes naturally to some children, but to others, it’s a chore, or they shy away from it because they lack confidence.
There are a number of strategies, tools, and resources to help students build strong literacy skills. Here are five to get you started:
1. Leverage technology to narrowly target gaps. Virtual platforms can help teachers to individually diagnose and target narrow skills that may need recovery, or that may need to be built from the ground up. Consider narrowing which skills need more practice and recovery as accurately and deeply as possible. That way, we’re not looking at kids or teachers from a deficit model.
2. Get creative and step outside of tradition. Have students create comics that tell a story, and then ask students to trade comics and give their peers feedback. Reluctant readers and writers may come out of their shells when given the opportunity to approach storytelling from a creative angle. Comics are a great way to inspire student engagement and to level the playing field so students can demonstrate their learning even if they aren’t confidence in their writing abilities.
3. Representation matters, and it’s a strong motivator. Connect students to stories and characters that look like and share similar experiences as them–as well as other races, cultures, and experiences–through books, virtual visits, sites, and online experiences.
4. Go digital if possible. Even as the pandemic has exposed some of the most challenging disparities in education, it has also encouraged new emphasis on self-directed learning and digital tools. Digital books have enabled educators to evaluate what speaks to students the most and measure success based on each student’s individual needs.
5. Find out what students enjoy learning about, what they like to do in their spare time, and what interests them most. Connect those likes to their opportunities to build literacy skills. A student who loves ancient civilizations or dinosaurs might be much more excited to read if reading materials focus on their interests.
For more resources, We Are Teachers has a wonderfully comprehensive list of 50 activities that help educators support early literacy in their students. Find it here!
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