Making Connections – Seeing Relationships

Students who have difficulty seeing relationships may also have trouble drawing conclusions, making predictions or drawing inferences. Teachers can help students develop their abilities to see patterns and relationships by giving students many opportunities to classify and visualize data. Classification activities can be as simple as asking students to create a simple wheel with spokes to generating a complex concept map. Once students have organized the information, be sure to have them explain the relationships and why they organized the data in the way they did.

Response to Intervention

All across the country, people are being trained in RtI or Response to Intervention. Response to Intervention is a three tiered approach to helping prevent early reading failure. Tier 1 is sound, research based instruction using best practices in the classroom. This means that classroom teachers have to be strong in understanding every child’s needs and have many strategies in their “bags of tricks” to determine how best to help each child effectively learn to read and grow in his or her reading skills. We must remember that student success begins in the classroom first and as Richard Allington so aptly points out, it is the skill of the classroom teacher first and foremost, that determines each child’s reading success.

The key to RtI is being able to monitor student performance so that student needs are recognized early and addressed with support services inside the classroom to get the child back on track. Small group intervention in addition to regular reading instruction can help struggling readers catch up quickly before they become overwhelmed with the requirements of learning to read.

When this is still not enough, then additional intervention, provided by a qualified reading specialist or well trained reading tutor, can be provided to help provide a more intense and differentiated approach. Again, this support is provided in addition to the regular reading program taking place in the classroom. With intensive and focused support, we can help children continue to develop as readers and writers in our classrooms.

Motivating Reluctant Readers

Kids who struggle with reading often do everything they can to avoid reading. Unfortunately, this is counter-productive and only increased the problem. Reading is a “participation sport” that children have to DO to get better. The more a child uses his reading skills, the stronger they become. What to do to get kids reading more so they actually build reading skills is the question on many teacher’s and parent’s minds.

Children like books that make them laugh or that appeal to their special interests. One little girl I know loves any books that have to do jokes. She has also watched all of the Harry Potter movies several times and loves any books that have to do with dragons or magicians. she can’t wait for the day when she can read the Harry Potter books all on her own. A boy I know, loves to not only watch the Merlin TV show each week, but to also read the Magic Treehouse books featuring a wizard by the same name as the character he knows and enjoys on television. The extra reading practice builds both reading skill and background knowledge.

Another boy loves anything to do with motocross racing. Buying materials that appeal to these interests, keeps these children practicing their reading and enjoying every minute of it. Magazines on a topic of interest can be just as interesting and skill building as any other type of reading material. If a child likes movies that have books connected with them or books that feature the characters from a TV or movie show, then by all means, introduce the child to these special treasures. So, take the time to get to know what interests the reluctant readers that you know and you may just find that they will spend many hours practicing their reading when they might not have done so before.