Any teacher with experience in a reading classroom knows that there is no catchall teaching strategy. Success in the classroom requires a little more nuance. Effective strategies are those that can be adapted to the needs of each student. A number of factors including age, learning capabilities, language diversity and socio-economic background all play a role in a teacher's choice of classroom methodologies. Though reading skills are largely a function of context and the students involved, there are some teaching strategies that work for all types of content.
These five strategies are the result of research on reading examined by the National Research Council. Students must be equipped with skills (memorable actions they can practice), strategies (procedures to address problems when encountering difficult words or passages), and concepts (frameworks through which students can contextualize what they are reading) that can be directly and routinely applied to reading. For students to become good readers, it is also important for them to self-monitor their reading so they can correct their own mistakes.
Teachers can use the following five tips to help students become effective readers.
- Teach according to their needs. Not all students need to hear the same lessons. Some students need more instruction, while others need more practice. Successful teachers rely on assessment results and feedback from their students to adapt their lessons appropriately.
- Make your instruction explicit. Give students clear, specific direction on what to do when they encounter a difficult word, sentence or phrase.
- Track your students' development. Pay attention to the specific needs of students so you can work with them individually to monitor their progress. Sometimes you may need to provide specialized instruction or connect students with tutors to help them master a specific skill outside of class.
- Model reading skills. Many students hesitate to practice reading out loud for fear of how their peers will view them. When the teacher models reading aloud, it makes students more likely to practice in the classroom. This can help students overcome their fear of what others may think.
- Apply reading skills in a variety of ways and contexts. The most intentional learning happens when students are motivated. Look for texts that motivate your students to understand what's being talked about, and they will want to practice on their own initiative.
The University of Texas Arlington offers an online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction – Literacy Studies program. In this non-thesis program, graduate students take specialized courses in pedagogy specific to the difficult task of teaching reading and writing. Through courses like Pre-Adolescent & Adolescent Literacy, Content Area Reading and Writing, and Literacy Assessment, the program equips teachers with strategies and tools to provide effective individualized instruction.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.