Current Literacy Practices And Struggling Readers

1556 words - 7 pages

Current Literacy Practices and Struggling Readers
This subject of changing curriculum for students that are struggling readers is one that is close to my heart. I see this as not only a middle school and high school concern, but with NCLB and all the students being held back, an elementary school concern. As you know I teach 4th grade and though the average age of most of the students are 9 or 10, I also have a growing population of 11, 12, and 13 year olds in my class. These students are struggling readers and their maturity levels are much more developed than my students that are of younger ages. It’s is a constant juggle to find independent reading material for all of the students. ...view middle of the document...

” It is apparent in all that we have read and in current research, that in order to become a better reader, the students need to practice reading. The trick is using specific strategies to help these struggling readers; strategies that include motivation and a variety of learning styles. In order to become better at anything, you have to practice in an authentic mode.
2. Make students read what they don’t know about or care about. If you think about what it is that we read as adults, how often do you read something you’re not curious about? Or something that you have to read in order to accomplish a task. I believe that one of the most powerful messages I got out of Cris Tovani’s I Read It, But I Don’t Get It (Tovani, 2000) was the importance of setting a purpose for reading. If students, struggling readers and strong readers alike, don’t see or sense a purpose for reading they simply won’t do it. As an educator it is my job to show them and teach them WHY they should read. I need to help them understand the purpose.
This is where the idea of every student reading the same text at the same time is an obviously not the answer. A variety of interest levels must be available to all learners.
3.Read difficult texts: Well, we know these readers are reading below grade level, but what can we do as the teacher, other than make them read the same books that everyone else is reading; text that is clearly too difficult for them. Have you ever opened up a doctoral level math or chemical equation book? For me this would be overwhelming and not something I would want to even consider reading. Now, as Beers stresses in Ch. 13 (Beers, 2003), it is important to keep expectations high for these students. As a teacher that works with this population of struggling readers, I keep my expectations high for my students. Our class motto is “We Choose to Challenge Ourselves!” We discuss the importance of taking on challenges and if we want something bad enough, if we WORK hard enough, we can accomplish amazing things. It takes a lot of work as an educator to get the students excited about text that initially seems to difficult or uninteresting for them, but I work hard on finding ways to connect my students to the text, connect them to real world events that are discussed in our literature, and/or connect them to other texts they may have shown great interest in. Also, I spend a lot of time working with the students in a variety of learning modalities. I use a lot of visual cues to help the students gain a stronger sense of purpose. Everything from movies, computer simulations, outside speakers coming in to speak with the students, are just a few examples. All of these strategies take time, so I’ve learned to slow down and teach with depth as opposed to skimming. These students need an in-depth learning experience and if I keep my expectation high and expect my students to work with rigor and take risks, then they will accomplish their goals. If...

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