Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Question About Helping Struggling Readers

I am so glad I had the opportunity to teach summer school this year (even though I'm a little jealous reading about everyone's vacations so far...:). I felt like it was a challenge, but in a good way and I ended up with some questions on my mind and maybe all you fabulous teachers out there can help me out.

I have always taught Kinder, except for one year looping up to 1st Grade with my class. I have also taught a mostly GT class for several years now. Although I will be the first to tell you there's a myth that all GT kids are advanced academically-we do have a spectrum of abilities; I was really surprised to see how far behind some of these 2nd Graders were in their reading skills. When we have students behind in Kinder, I guess it doesn't seem so dire because we really don't have official promotion standards (it's not even a mandatory grade here). And sometimes it just takes a little longer for those skills to kick in, especially if they are young Kinders. We want them to be reading at least 40 sight words by the end of the year and the ultimate goal is 30 wpm for fluency, but as long as they know letters/sounds and can blend some words, they will move on. I posted before about a particular student who tugged at my heartstrings this year, because I truly believe he was misunderstood during the school year-- I want to tutor him next year, but I'm at a loss at what kind of interventions will even be successful.

I worked with him individually every day (granted, it was only 19 days) and used a lot of the varied techniques I use in Kinder-tactile sight words, sight word hopscotch, shaving cream writing of the words, memory games, slap with flyswatters and of course reading every day with the lowest level readers I could find. This student, however, made very little progress in reading, besides maybe being a little more motivated to want to learn. He asked if he could take his flashcards home one day to practice-are you kidding, absolutely! This was the kid who went home everyday during the school year with nothing-no backpack, folder, homework, etc. He took books home to read every day during summer school and was just so disappointed he wouldn't be moving on to the next grade-but he was so far behind. He even asked if we could make summer school longer!

I read about students making great gains with teachers within a year, jumping up several grade levels. I'm wondering if there is a resource that you know of ,or a book/author/workshop that has great ideas for intervening with struggling readers.

I really want to try to help this kid next year, but just don't feel very well-equipped to do so.

Thanks so much!



  1. I had a first grader this year that made great gains by using Ticket To Read. I also worked with him for 10 minutes every day during lunch just having him read to me. Those two things combined got him to a place where he enjoyed reading and his comprehension soared!

    Owl Things First

    1. Thank you so much for those suggestions-will definitely check out Ticket To Read! :)

  2. I use Ginny Dowd's Phonics Dance...and all of her other materials throughout the year. She's definitely worth looking into! Our intervention teacher uses Touchphonics and has seen great results too!

    1. I've never heard of that one-sounds like a fun way to practice! Thanks so much for the suggestions! :)

  3. Have you considered a computer program? The school I used to work at used Successmaker. It gets harder as the students skills get stronger. You could use it (or something similar) at a reading centre.

    Reading with Mrs. D
    Endless Pinabilities