A simple routine to support literacy development in all subjects

When you look at the five components of reading and how teachers’ emphasis on them changes as students learn to read, one constant is word learning. This shouldn’t be surprising for those familiar with Scarborough’s Reading Rope, which suggests that vocabulary and background knowledge are essential components of skilled reading. These two strands of the rope can account for a 50-60 percent variation in reading comprehension scores. Not only do students need to know how to decode words, but they must also know the meaning of words in order to apply their meaning toward comprehension.

Fortunately, students are building vocabulary and background knowledge all the time as they pick up new words from context through reading and listening, learn new words and ideas in their daily lives, and of course, in all the various content areas they study in school.

Explicit vocabulary instruction not only helps students build vocabulary in the moment, but also gives them the tools to learn new words as they encounter them. Here’s an effective routine to help students learn new words whether they’re in an English class or the science lab.…Read More

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

3 ways to help students de-stress

A recent study found that the global pandemic and its accompanying social and cultural changes have significantly impacted the mental health and stress of children and teens. And the  CDC warns that levels of stress and anxiety in children continue to rise. Yet the science of how stress affects a student’s ability to learn and excel in the classroom–especially when it comes to reading comprehension–is rarely discussed.

Teachers who want to support optimal reading comprehension must equip themselves with a deeper understanding of why stress is so harmful to students’ reading, and what they can do about it. 

The growing problem of student stress…Read More

How positive psychology reduces stress and boosts reading comprehension

Learning to read is a higher brain function. Reading comprehension activates the cerebral cortex of a child’s brain. This part of the brain is important for complex cognitive tasks, but it’s also the part of the brain that’s the most sensitive to the harmful effects of stress.

Because stress impairs both learning and memory, teachers can improve reading comprehension and enhance classroom learning by reducing student stress through positive psychology.

The psychology of happiness and learning…Read More

A strategy to help struggling adolescent readers

According to the Nation’s Report Card, about two-thirds of eighth-graders are not proficient readers. What’s even more alarming is the fact that the size of that cohort has remained steady for the last 25 years! This means, unless they have had intervening remedial instruction, the majority of ninth-to-12th-grade students are also non-proficient readers. And, as can be seen by the Report Card, those inadequate reading comprehension skills are producing below-grade-level performance across academic subjects.

Fortunately, research shows that adolescence is not too late to learn to read well. The challenge for teachers is that one class of students will contain a wide range of reading abilities and needs, from those who are virtual non-readers to ones who are at grade level or above grade level.

Related content: Improving reading skills through text-based discussions…Read More

Teachers can help students boost reading comprehension

Reading is often a challenge, but teachers can use these free resources to help students’ achievement

reading-SOTWReadWorks is a nonprofit organization that provides online research-based K-8 curriculum and guidance in reading comprehension directly to teachers, for free, to be shared broadly. Its mission is to improve teacher effectiveness in teaching reading comprehension, to increase student achievement.

ReadWorks’ curriculum aligns to the Common Core and state standards. Its hundreds of lessons and thousands of reading passages/question sets are leveled to help teachers differentiate, meeting students where they are developmentally, with grade-level appropriate and engaging texts.

ReadWorks addresses a critical pain point for teachers by providing free, high-quality curriculum that can be implemented immediately within the practical realities of classrooms. That begins to establish a consistent pedagogical approach. It engage teachers over time to help them fundamentally and permanently improve their practice and the success of their students in reading comprehension.…Read More