How to support older struggling readers

The reasons that students remain struggling readers in middle and high school are frequently based on myths and misconceptions.

The first big myth, based on reading assessment measures, is that comprehension is the problem. The majority of reading assessments and standardized tests for older students focus on reading comprehension measures without determining gaps in the essential components that lead to comprehension: decoding, fluency, and vocabulary. A low comprehension score doesn’t tell teachers what they need to know to intervene, yet the proposed solution is often more reading “strategies.” This is generally unsuccessful because, as stated by Dr. Anita Archer, “There is no reading strategy powerful enough to compensate for the fact that you can’t read the words.”

Decades of research have shown that effective readers have a solid and automatic knowledge of how to translate the sounds of our language to the print that represents those sounds. This begins with the sounds for consonants and vowels—called phoneme proficiency—and an understanding of how speech and print work together for reading and spelling. Without this foundation, the ability to develop accurate and automatic word recognition and fluency will always be limited.…Read More

5 myths about large print books – busted!

Large print books have a legacy of supporting reading engagement and proficiency in older adults, leading to a narrow – and inaccurate – view of the format’s usefulness.

A 2019 report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that the average eighth-grade reading score has declined, indicating a dire need for new solutions to support student reading efforts – large print text is one easy-to-implement option.

As a former librarian, I’ve seen the positive difference that large print text can make for young readers – but don’t just take my word for it. A 2019 study conducted by Project Tomorrow and Thorndike Press examined the impact of large print text on student reading ability and confidence. The research shows that large print text can help increase reading ability in students while also changing their mindset and habits.…Read More

5 things you don’t know about K-12 virtual learning

Online learning has come a long way since its early champions saw it as a supplement to classroom learning. Skeptics initially questioned the viability of the new model, wondering if it would provide the right levels of support, curriculum, and engagement needed to ensure student success. And while online learning has more than proven itself to be both an alternative to and complementary offering for traditional classroom instruction, some misconceptions still persist.

For example, because virtual instructors aren’t physically present in a classroom, their qualifications and expertise can come into question. The subject matter itself—often thought of as “boring” or “unengaging”—is another area where myths persist. And finally, online skeptics are still talking about issues like lack of teacher support and low student success rates.

Dispelling the myths about virtual learning

To help dispel these myths and provide some insider knowledge on how online education really works, here’s a five-point list of things that you may not have known about virtual learning.…Read More

4 myths about blended learning debunked

When I first started teaching math a decade ago, I gave notes at the front of the room on an overhead transparency projector. The teacher who taught math in the room before me had retired and left all of her materials behind. In the file cabinets, I found an entire year’s worth of transparencies with math concepts organized by date and topic. Since it was my first teaching experience, I assumed that my role as an instructor was to stand in the front of the room and regurgitate these same notes to my middle school students.

I soon realized that this style of teaching was antiquated, so I started projecting PowerPoint presentations onto my whiteboard and taught using what I called a “poor man’s SmartBoard.” Since I was doing all of my teaching from the front of the room, I saw my whole-class explanations as of paramount importance to my practice. Subsequently, I believed that my particular way of explaining math was best for my students and better than other teachers. I soon gathered my own “filing cabinet of transparencies” in the form of PowerPoint presentations that I could use year after year.

The truth is, I am only one of a dozen or so math teachers that my students will have. Each math teacher will have their own style and version of teaching some of the same topics. The standards that my students are asked to master say nothing about the method of instruction or even the means to getting to an answer. How important really is my particular way of teaching math?…Read More