The Threads of Reading – Karen Tankersley

On my blog, you will find many new reading strategies, ideas and suggestions for becoming a masterful “weaver” of the threads of reading in your own classroom.

Nothing is more important for a teacher than to know how to use good reading strategies and practices. Making a difference with our students is why we all became educators. Becoming strong and proficient readers and writers is critical for our students.

The goal of my website is to help you create strong and effective readers in your classroom. I have gathered hundreds of tips, tricks, and reading strategies that will help you meet the literacy needs of your students.

Many of these ideas featured here come from my own work as a reading specialist, literacy coach and professional developer.

Other tips and reading strategies are from the successful instructional strategies of great reading teachers I have known over the years.  Other ideas are from important research being done in the field that translates into effective instruction.

I will also pass along good ideas from other literacy experts in the field that you might find helpful for your own classroom instruction.

Share Your Own Effective Reading Strategies and Tips

Feel free to leave suggestions on great reading tips you use with your own students as you read. Also, feel free to ask questions or comment on the ideas and suggestions found here.

Please be an active participant when you visit here.  Return again and again for ideas, teaching strategies, and inspiration. 

Teaching students to read well is not an easy job. The more we share great ideas and identify what works to improve student proficiency, the better readers our students become.

Thank you for the work that you do every day!  You are valued and appreciated!

Karen’s Books on Teaching Reading

In addition to the information presented here, you may enjoy reading some of my books on teaching reading and my book on Childhood Obesity.

The Threads of Reading: Strategies for Literacy Development

Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12:  Reinforcing the Threads of Reading

Tests that Teach: Using Standardized Tests to Improve Instruction

Childhood Obesity: Helping Children Lead Fit and Healthy Lives

Instructional Coaching Impacts Teacher Performance

My Book on Literacy Coaching for Reading Effectiveness

If you are a relatively new Instructional Coach or Reading coach in your school, then you may also enjoy reading my book on literacy coaching:

Coaching the Threads of Reading: Helping Teachers Build Reading Success

You may also enjoy these posts on Literacy coaching on my blog:

Coaching the Threads of Reading for Literacy Coaches

Instructional Coaching That Gets Results

New Class for Literacy Coaches

Check out my new Literacy Coaching course, Coaching Heroes and Champions.

In this course, you will be able to improve your ability to inspire and coach the teachers in your school. You will be able to:

1: cultivate success as a literacy coach who facilitates adult learning that changes practice.

2: understand how to build trusting and caring coaching relationships that enable teacher success.

3: use coaching strategies to increase student academic performance and facilitate student-centered practices that instill joy in the classroom.

4: use data to hone instructional performance and improve student engagement and mastery of state standards.

Here is a list of what you will learn in Bringing Out the Heroes and Champions in Teachers: Instructional Coaching that Gets Results

Module 1: Clarifying the Coaching Role, Purpose and Vision for Success

Module 2: How to Differentiate Support to Meet Individual Teacher Needs

Module 3: Adult Learning, Mental Models and Teacher Career Stages

Module 4: Using Formative and Summative Assessment to Maximize Student Achievement

Module 5: Planning and Teaching for Maximizing Achievement

Module 6: Powerful Communications

I would love to hear your feedback on what you like and how the course might be improved for future students!

Improving Reading Skills in Students with Reading Difficulties

Improving reading skills in students with reading difficulties is an essential task for classroom teachers.

Reading is a participation sport!  It can’t be emphasized enough that if we want children to become strong and capable readers, they must READ – plain and simple. 

Think about it.  How would you do it if you wanted to improve at your favorite sport?  First, you would ensure that you had any equipment needed (books), and then you would ensure you had time to practice (reading).  If you wanted to get really good, you would probably find someone good at this sport to keep you company (friends to talk about books with). Finally, you might also hire a coach (a good reading teacher) to help you improve your abilities. 

What Does the Research Say About Improving Reading Skills?

Researcher Anderson and colleagues reported that students in basal-dominated classrooms spent up to 70% of their reading instructional time completing worksheets instead of actively reading. Researchers found that time actually spent reading is what correlates with higher reading competency. The more students read, the more capable readers students become.

It seems logical that the more someone practices, the better they become at doing what they have been practicing. Unfortunately, what seems logical is not always what happens in classrooms nationwide. The research indicates that students perceived as “low” or struggling readers in many classrooms spent less time reading than their better-performing peers. What’s that about? 

Teenage girl relaxing on a bed with a book.

The greater the need, the more it stands to reason that those with the greatest need should be doing more reading – not less. Take the time to assess how much actual reading goes on in your class and find ways to increase it. Remember, reading is a participation sport which gets better with practice.

Reading is a fundamental skill that serves as the cornerstone of academic success. However, not all students develop the skills they need to become successful readers. Some students struggle with word identification, while others can speak the words but cannot make meaning out of the words they have read.

To address this issue, teachers must employ effective strategies that cater to the diverse needs of these students. This report outlines eight essential ideas that help students who struggle with reading become more effective readers.

Idea 1: Build Background Knowledge

Background knowledge plays a pivotal role in comprehension. The more students know about a topic, the better they can understand what they read. To build background knowledge, educators can leverage nonfiction texts and articles written at an appropriate reading level. Teachers should encourage students to explore multiple sources related to the subjects they are studying. This knowledge can reinforce their background knowledge and help them grasp challenging concepts more quickly.

Idea 2: Providing Feedback

Provide Regular Feedback: Offer constructive feedback to help students identify areas for improvement. Please encourage them to set goals for their reading skills and monitor their progress. Collaborate with Specialists: Work closely with special education teachers, speech therapists, and literacy specialists to create individualized plans for struggling readers.

Idea 3: Allow for Student Choice

Empowering students with choices in their reading materials is a powerful motivator. By offering a diverse range books and materials, including those on the grade level, teachers can provide equitable access to content that suits individual preferences and learning needs. This approach reduces stress and emotional frustration and encourages students to take ownership of their learning. Allowing students to choose what they read fosters a sense of independence. It encourages them to engage more deeply with the material.

Idea 5: Offer Multi-sensory Reading Techniques

Multi-sensory reading techniques are helpful for students struggling with reading. Some examples are using manipulatives, gestures, speaking, and auditory cues, which can provide the scaffolds students need to learn letters and sounds. Elementary children can use techniques like “say the word, touch the word, and spell it” to increase their awareness of how letters and sounds go together to make words we know and use regularly. Combining visual, auditory, and tactile neural pathways strengthens written language learning.

Techniques like using a marker to highlight the text as it’s read can visually connect the ideas and spoken words. This synchrony between written and spoken language enhances comprehension and bridges the gap when fluency is still developing. Human-read audiobooks with students following along in printed text are powerful tools to improve reading comprehension, as they support auditory and visual learning preferences. These audiobooks expose students to new words and phrases and provide explicit modeling of word reading and fluency. As students listen to these audiobooks, they naturally encounter a more comprehensive range of vocabulary, which positively affects their overall reading proficiency.

Idea 6: Differentiated Instructional Strategies

Use differentiated instructional strategies that meet the needs of each student.  Tailor your teaching approach to meet the unique needs of each student. Recognize that struggling readers may require additional support and modifications to reach their full potential.

Idea 7: Strengthen and Expand Vocabulary

Vocabulary acquisition is a crucial aspect of reading comprehension. Researchers have reported that the size of a student’s vocabulary significantly predicts reading success. To strengthen students’ vocabulary, educators can expose students to new words by playing word games in the classroom, highlighting new words, and using them frequently in classroom conversation. Exposing students to morphology helps them learn new words in smaller chunks. How many of us passed those achievement tests we had to take in high school to get into college by tearing words apart into their prefixes, suffixes, and root words? Using word parts to determine word meaning is a life skill that most adults use regularly when they come to words they don’t know.

Idea 8: Open the Door to Discussion Between Students

Discussion and dialogue about what students read are essential for enhancing comprehension. When students are engaged in discussion about the content of what they are reading, talking about their insights and understandings is a meaningful way to connect with their peers and the school community. Access to the same materials their peers use builds students’ confidence and self-belief. This leads to a stronger sense of belonging. Discussions allow students to clarify their understanding, ask questions about any areas of confusion, and gain insights from their peers.

Young girl with classes reading a book.

Building and Supporting Strong Readers

Teaching students who struggle with reading requires a multifaceted approach that incorporates building background knowledge, offering student choice, providing multi-sensory reading experiences, strengthening vocabulary, and fostering meaningful discussion about what students learn from their reading. By implementing these strategies and best practices, teachers can empower struggling readers to improve their reading skills and succeed academically.

You Might Also Enjoy Karen’s Book: Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12: Reinforcing the Threads of Reading

Or These Articles:

How to Enhance Student Reading with Audio Books

Struggling Readers Learn to Read

Using Storytelling in the Classroom

Using storytelling in the classroom creates impact for students. Teachers use storytelling to engage students in the content that they present to their students.

In addition, learning more about storytelling can also get students excited about their own learning.

Help your students explain what they are learning and communicate their ideas in unique and inspiring ways. Media presentation types include the use of photography, video, and the use of voice,

You can also use graphic tools to create captivating infographics on topics of interest.

Elementary school boy looking at a computer screen
Children are experts at using media so why not help them use their media skills for storytelling?

Students use video and pictures to communicate on a daily basis. Why not capitalize on interests they already have by blending these skills with learning?

If you have ever wanted to learn to use media tools like video, audio, photography and graphics to enhance your own teaching this is the perfect opportunity.

Once you have mastered these concepts, you can teach your students to create informative stories around what they are learning. Visual text can also increase student comprehension.

Free Visual Media Course for Storytelling

I am sure you are familiar with the beautiful photography on the pages of the National Geographic magazine. National Geographic has developed self-paced and Cohort-based free courses to help teachers easily learn to use storytelling in the classroom.

By enrolling in their free online courses, you can learn to use these instructional tools for your own presentation. Students can also create their own storytelling media applications to demonstrate their learning.

Through storytelling techniques, students can explore real-life problems and communicate their ideas and concerns in inspiring and motivational ways.

Using media for storytelling can deepen student thinking about important concepts and ideas. It can also help students learn to communicate their ideas in clear, persuasive ways that impact their audiences.

What better way to learn about audience and point of view?

To learn more about the National Geographic courses or to sign up for free, go to the National Geographic Website Education Tab.

There is also an educator certification course where teachers can collaborate with other educators to create activity-centered instruction using real world problems and issues in the classroom.

National Geographic courses are open to any educator from anywhere in the world who work with students. Courses vary in length, type and schedule. Skills learned in these courses are appropriate for use in all grade levels and content areas.

Post updated on September 29, 2022

Instructional Coaching That Gets Results

Announcing Our New Instructional Coaching Course

Announcing our new instructional coaching online course: Coaching Heroes and Champions! This course is for you if you are a new school instructional coach in your first through third year of coaching – who wants to make a difference in student success and teacher performance.

Two women talking while sitting at a table.
Instructional Coaches Help Teachers Be More Effective

What Will School Instructional Coaches Learn in this Course?

This top notch course can greatly shorten the learning curve for new school coaches and help you hit the ground running in your new instructional coaching position.

Learn skills such as how to create productive relationships and build trust with your coaching clients. Identify teacher needs and career stages so you can meet your teachers where they are and improve teacher practice.

Delve into the research behind effective adult learning so you can help your coaching clients make a difference in student success within their classrooms.

Identify ways to use data to hone instructional performance, improve student mastery of state standards and improve learning engagement.

By understanding how to use these skills with the teachers with whom you work, you will be in a better position to build positive and productive relationships and improve teacher effectiveness and result in measurable student learning gains.

Learn facilitation skills that you can use to help school teams reflect on student success and create student-centered, focused classrooms that produce academic growth.

Understand how to use mental models to increase powerful communications and help teachers embrace change and mindsets of continuous improvement.

First year teachers thrive when working with a knowledgeable school coach. Working with a knowledgeable school coach helps new teachers increase their classroom effectiveness by as much as 4-5 years of experience in the classroom.

Where Can I Learn More About this Course?

Don’t miss this opportunity to sharpen your skills as a school coach and make a difference for the students in your school. Review the course curriculum by clicking here.

Click this link to learn more about this 6 module curriculum: Coaching Heroes and Champions.

Know someone who has just become a new instructional coach in your school?

If so, please pass along this email to your instructional coach. This course can help them get a head start on learning the tricks of highly effective coaches.