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Working with Struggling Readers: Strategies to Help Teachers Develop Reading Skills in Students

Working with struggling readers can be difficult for teachers especially as the reading gap increases every year. Reading skills are critical in any area of life. In school, struggling readers can be found in every classroom from kindergarten to senior year, but there are many strategies that can help teachers encourage and develop reading skills in their students.


One important way to improve reading skills is by providing students with opportunities to read texts that are interesting and engaging to them. When students are interested in what they are reading, they are more likely to pay attention and focus on the task. Additionally, giving students regular opportunities to practice reading aloud is important. This helps them to develop fluency and confidence in their abilities.


Strategies for working with struggling readers


teacher working with struggling readers planning out her strategies.

Pair complex texts with lower-level texts.

As a teacher, you have the power to encourage and develop your student's reading skills. A great way to do this is by using reading material at lower lexiles and pairing it with more complete texts. This will help your students to gradually increase their reading level and become more competent readers. Additionally, you can provide support and scaffolding during reading activities, such as asking questions and helping to clarify difficult concepts. By taking these measures, you can set your students on the path to success in reading and literacy.


Pairing complex text with video support

There are a number of strategies that can be used to help struggling readers with more complex texts. One such strategy is to provide a video summary of the text. This can help struggling readers quickly get an overview of the content and see how it fits together. Additionally, it can provide a more concrete and visual way to engage with the material.


Use guided reading questions throughout the reading process

Allowing kids to take breaks after a few paragraphs and answer questions about what they have read, allows them to stop and digest what they read in small chunks. This improves overall comprehension and helps students see the types of questions they should be asking as they read longer sections of text. Over the course of a semester or Unit, you can slowly increase the amount of text a student reads between breaks for questions.


Read every day.

Finally, it is important to provide ample opportunities for students to practice their reading skills. Setting a reading time each day shows students that reading is not just for assignments but is expected as part of their daily lives.


Paired reading

You can pair two students up together and sit at their desks so they can easily listen to each other as they read. Another strategy is to have students partner up with a more proficient reader. This can help to provide support and guidance as students read.


working with struggling readers setting paired reading assignments

Group reading circles

Another useful strategy is to have students read the text in groups. This can help to break down the material into manageable chunks and allow students to discuss and clarify concepts as they go. Additionally, it can provide a more supportive and social environment for struggling students.


Let students listen to the book as they read.

One of the best ways to improve reading and comprehension skills is to allow listening to the audio of a text while reading along. Listening to the audio of a text can help students follow along more easily, and can also help them to identify words that they might not be able to read on their own. Additionally, listening to the audio of a text can help students to better understand the author's intended meaning, as well as the overall tone of the piece.


Get creative.

When teaching complex texts, it can be helpful to allow students to express their understanding through creative projects such as dioramas, illustrations, or videos. This allows them to engage with the material in a hands-on way, and to share their understanding with their classmates in a meaningful way.


Talk about it.

Discussion. Always give time for students to talk about a text, before reading, during the reading, and after the reading. Before beginning a reading assignment, it is always beneficial to discuss the text with fellow students. This allows for different interpretations and helps to get a better grasp of the overall meaning of the text. during the reading, stopping to discuss various passages helps to solidify the understanding of the text. After the reading is complete, a final discussion will help to sum up the main ideas and put the text into perspective.

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