by Patti Clark | Lakeshore VP of Research & Development
- Help students break long, challenging words into recognizable pieces. When struggling readers try to decode long and unfamiliar words, they often decode the first syllable but then simply guess the rest of the word. Prior to reading a text, pull out a few of the multisyllable words that readers may have difficulty decoding. Use magnetic letters to build the words and then separate them into recognizable parts. For example, you might break the word skyrocket into sky and rocket. Alternatively, give students an activity sheet with the challenging words printed on it and cover the words with a transparency sheet. Give students a wet-erase marker and ask them to break down each multisyllable word by circling parts they recognize. For example, when analyzing the word destruction, a reader might circle “de,” “struc” and “tion.” Then help readers sound out each part that was circled and blend the sounds together.
- To strengthen comprehension, provide a purpose for reading and preview a text prior to reading. Many struggling readers can easily read and decode individual words—but have difficulty getting meaning from a text. To help this type of struggling reader, start by providing a purpose or motivation for reading, such as learning more about a topic they find interesting. Next, walk readers through a text before they actually begin reading. For informational texts, point out common text features, including the title, photos and photo captions, illustrations and diagrams, and headings and subheadings. Discuss what students think will be in the text based on what they see. By previewing the text in this way, students begin focusing on meaning right away. Write down students’ thoughts so that you can go back and discuss their predictions as they read to see if they were correct. Another technique to assist students with comprehension is to provide two or three text-based questions before students begin reading. Tell readers that the answers to these questions can be found in the text. As students read the text, they should think about what they’re reading and find the answers to these questions, and be able to show where in the text they found the answers. By doing this, students become more aware of what they are reading and begin to interact with the text as they read.
- Use graphic organizers to help students focus on essential information and boost comprehension. Readers who struggle with comprehension can benefit from filling out graphic organizers as they read. Graphic organizers help students break down information, keep track of what they are reading and separate important information from less essential information. Graphic organizers also help organize the information presented in a text so that students can make connections more easily. Start by giving struggling readers a graphic organizer that is partially filled out, asking them to fill in the missing information while they read. Gradually fill out less and less information for students until they are able to fill out the graphic organizers entirely on their own.