Classroom Connection

Make the shift to evidence based reading instruction with monthly tips and suggestions that you can begin implementing right away.

Reading Strategies

Our first Classroom Connection resource is focused on reading strategies. How do you help a student when they come to an unknown word? What strategies do you teach them to figure out that word? If the strategies you have taught your students are like the ones below, this is the first shift you should consider making.

We have never met a teacher that did not want to help their students learn how to read. These strategies are cute, yes, but do not really teach a student how to read a word that they have never encountered before. Any strategy that encourages a student to look away from the word may help them temporarily, but in the long run will not. What happens when an older student that has relied on looking at the pictures, skipping the word, or getting their mouth ready for the first sound? They have learned to guess and believe that as long as they get the general "gist" of the story, then that is all they need.

The problem with these strategies isn't that they are ineffective, for now. They will will get students through the lower level books that are prevalent in elementary schools. The question then, is why is there such a discrepancy with proficiency between primary and intermediate readers? While we might first believe that it is because learners begin with "learning to read" and the transition to "reading to learn" and that is where the difficulty lies. In actuality, the reason learners begin to fall apart in the upper grades is because they were taught to bypass decoding strategies for other strategies (as in the picture) that are easier and result in quicker "fix up." These strategies are actually strategies that poor readers use to compensate for an inability to properly decode a word. What happens when there is no longer a picture to rely on? What happens when they don't have context for or a word or syntax doesn't help either? We have to stop supplying our students with "cheat codes" and instead supply them with the ability to "break the code" that will last their entire life. It will be slower at first, but 100% worth it in the end!

So, what should you do instead? The sub page Reading Strategies has links for bookmarks to use instead of the popular ones above. You will also find links to articles, videos, podcasts, and websites that have resources addressing this topic. You will find resources that support the why, how, and what to teach students when it comes to reading strategies.