How to Improve Your Ability to Teach Reading

African American female teacher writing on a white board.
Learning the Best Ways to Teach Reading is a Great Career Booster for Teachers

Do you struggle with how to teach reading? Do your skills need a boost or a refresh? 

Want to learn how to help struggling readers? Do you know how to challenge the gifted students in your classroom? Are you able to raise the level of rigor in your content classroom? These are just some of the challenges that teachers face in today’s classrooms.

There is no time like the present to fill your professional knowledge cup with solid professional development that can help you improve your teaching skills and boost student achievement. 

Refreshing your skills gives you the energy and confidence to make a difference with your students! I am often asked for advice on classes for teachers who aren’t interested in structured degree programs although they still want to improve their classroom skills.

I recommend taking a look at the online course catalog of my friends at Teach N Kids Learn, Inc. for some hands-on, minds-on courses.

Professional Development on How to Teaching Reading and More

Teach and Kids Learn, Inc. is a national training corporation providing high-quality training to teachers since 2009.

It has partnerships with several state departments of education and large school districts around the United States. Partnerships include Michigan, Georgia, Hawaii, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to name just a few places where TKL enrolls many teachers. The mission of Teach and Kids Learn is to ensure that teachers receive high-quality professional development that sparks a passion for teaching and learning.

You can learn more about some of the excellent courses they offer at: Teach N Kids Learn.com.

TKL’s courses are practical, hands-on learning experiences designed to meet the needs of practicing educators. Each course helps you learn solid, research-based strategies and techniques that are proven to work in the classroom.

Over 98% of teachers who have taken TKL courses say that they would highly recommend TKL’s self-paced courses to their colleagues.

The course fee is reasonable. Courses are self-paced and can be taken during a semester or as a fast-track, mini-course. Many states and school districts will award professional growth credit or Graduate credits for course completion.  Check the FAQ page or call them to learn more about options for your state or district.

In addition to courses in reading instruction, TKL also offers courses in many other content areas. For example, there are courses in writing, math instruction, classroom management, PBL or STEM. You can learn how to work with special needs students who have ADHD, Learning Disabilities, or Autism Spectrum Disorder in the general classroom.

Other classes that you may like include: Getting Started with STEM: Increasing Student Engagement: Motivating Students; Engaging Parents in Support of Learning; Kid’s Yoga and Mindfulness; Providing Feedback; Supporting Students with Childhood Trauma, Teaching Mathematics with Rigor; Avoiding Burnout and many more.

Who Teaches Classes for TLK?

All of the instructors who develop and teach professional development courses for TKL are seasoned educators. They all have extensive experience in their content areas and in delivering high-quality professional development.

Since TKL began, I have worked with them as a course developer and “guest instructor” from time to time. I often answer questions that students have while taking any of the courses that I have created.

In keeping with full disclosure, as a freelance course designer, I am paid a small royalty for each student who enrolls in any of the courses that I have created for TLK. I do not receive royalties for courses developed by other experts nor am I an employee of TKL. I offer this reference only as a consideration for teachers who want to improve their own professional development and skills.

If you want to strengthen your knowledge about teaching reading, you may be interested in the following courses:

Building Academic Vocabulary;

Helping Struggling Readers;

Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom;

Complex Textual Reading Made Easy;

Close Reading in the Elementary Classroom;

Getting Started with Project-Based Learning;

Addressing Attention Deficits in the General Education Classroom:

Teaching Literacy Across Content Areas;

Meeting the Needs of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder;

Supporting Our Students Through Childhood Trauma;

Raising Rigor in the Classroom:

And finally, my newest course: News and Media Literacy: Fact or Fiction? Research in the Era of Misinformation, Bias and Fake News

To learn more about how to teach reading and any other areas of interest, check out the courses available from my friends at:  http://teachnkidslearn.com/

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If you are a new school instructional coach, check out my course:

Coaching Heroes and Champions

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Learning vocabulary involves two concepts. The first is adding new words to one’s personal lexicon but the second is learning new meanings for the words with which one is already familiar. We must not only help students add new words to their vocabularies, but also help them expand their knowledge about word meanings. Words have connotative as well as denotative meanings so to really understand what we are reading, requires an extensive background knowledge about language and word meaning. For this reason, good vocabulary instruction includes not only exposure to totally new words but also instruction that deepens student’s understanding of the meaning of words they already know which may be used in many other conceptional ways.

We learn words most often during our every day life experiences. For example, a young child learns the word and the concept of “hot” by touching a hot surface and hearing his mother say, “No! Hot!.” After the tears subside, the child has a clear and memorable link to both the word as well as the concept of “hot.

People also learn words through movies, television, listening to conversations and by extensive reading. This is the reason that we need to have students read as much as possible. The more they read, the better they become at reading and the larger their vocabularies become. Snow, Burns and Griffin (1998) state that from elementary through high school, students learn approximately 7 words per day or somewhere around 2,700 to 3,000 per year. Reading aloud to students is also a good way to expand student vocabulary since students can listen to text several levels above what they might be able to read and comprehend on their own. Reading to our students in all content areas should be a daily experience. This will not only help our good students but is absolutely vital for our struggling readers or English-Language Learner students.

As adults, we often use our knowledge of word parts such as prefixes, suffixes and root words to analyze a new word that we encounter. For this reason, it is helpful for students to study and learn the meaning of affixes. Content area teachers should identify the important affixes that belong to their subject area and help students learn the various word parts so that they develop a greater understanding of how to analyze new words they encounter while reading. For example, knowing that “hydro” means water would help students unlock the meaning of many scientific words dealing with water that they might encounter.

Another good way to encourage vocabulary development is to pique student curiosity and interest in new words. Word walls in all grades and content areas can help call attention to special vocabulary that students need to be successful in the classroom. Gathering interesting words and playing with words can also be great ways to help students build a large storehouse of vocabulary. The more students can connect to, visualize and enjoy adding new words to their vocabularies, the stronger and more competent readers they will become.

What Works in Primary Vocabulary Instruction?

according to Juel and Deffes (2004), teachers can make vocabulary meaningful and memorable for students by anchoring new words in multiple contexts. Other researchers point out (Nagy & Scott, 2000; Nation, 1990) that knowledge of a word includes how it sounds, how it is written, how it is used as a part of speech, the word’s  multiple meanings and it’s morphology or how it has been derived. Comparing and contrasting words on the basis of these various features can help students organize and categorize words for more efficient memory storage and retrieval.

Juel and Deffes tested 3 different types of typical vocabulary instructional strategies with primary students to see which strategy worked most effectively. In what they referred to as a “contextual condition,” teachers related word meanings to students’ background knowledge. In the “analytic condition,” teachers related words to student’s background knowledge and engaged students in analyzing word meanings. The third instructional method was called “anchored condition” where teachers related words to students’ background knowledge, engaged students in active analysis of words and also called student’s attention to the words’ component letters and sounds. According to Juel and Deffes, they found that the analytic and anchored instructional approaches helped students learn the words more effectively than did the contextual instructional approach. Their final recommendations were that teachers “should take every opportunity to connect vocabulary words to texts, to other words, and to some concrete orthographic features within the word.” Read the full article by clicking on the article title below.

Making Words Stick