Increasing comprehension for struggling readersWhat strategies do you use to help struggling readers?  I try to use highlighting and annotating, but that only helps when kids can write in the text...

Increasing comprehension for struggling readers

What strategies do you use to help struggling readers?  I try to use highlighting and annotating, but that only helps when kids can write in the text (either have them purchase a book, or else photocopy a short story for this purpose).  What other ideas do you have?  It just seems that my regents kids get weaker and weaker every year.

Expert Answers
malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm sure there will be people out there who think I'm off my rocker, and that's really okay...I'm just letting you all know something cool that I experienced at my school recently...and yes, it has to do with Shakespeare. :)

We have a student at our school who is a 7th grader, but who probably reads at a 4th or 5th grade level. She is currently in 6th grade English, but struggles. She asked me this year if she could start coming to our afterschool Shakespeare Reading Group. I said sure, it's open to everyone. So she started coming last semester when we were reading "Julius Caesar."

I honestly didn't expect her to volunteer to read any parts, but she did after a few weeks of listening. The first few times she read, it was was obvious that she was worlds behind the other students and their reading levels, but she persevered and I helped her out with the tougher words, and everyone was patient, etc. But as she kept reading each week, she got better at figuring words out and reading more quickly.

She has continued coming to our reading group...we finished "JC" and we're now reading "Shrew," and she has continued reading along with us. Her English teacher talked to me about how much this girl has improved overall in English class. Her vocabulary is better, her reading comprehension is better...overall, she has improved tremendously since reading Shakespeare with us.

Just my two cents! :)

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I work at a small alternative school where some of my readers are exceptionally weak.  When I work one on one with a student, (and I realize that this is only possible in the kind of environment I am in) I real a couple sentences with her that I know she is struggling with.  When I ask her if she understands the paragraph, she always says yes. Then I ask her what certain words mean, and when she doesn't know, we look them up together. The difficulty here is in not berating the student. You don't want the student to get overwhelmed by new vocabulary.  After we spend a few minutes figuring out the words, we read the paragraph again. This time she understands it. She feels encouraged, and continues to look up words or ideas.

I also tell my students that this is the only thing they are allowed to use wikipedia for. 

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What has been effective for me is to read aloud and have the students follow along and keep what I call a doodle journal. They doodle whatever the story or passage brings to mind. I've found that my slower readers retain a lot more than if I had students take turns reading or if they read silently.

My school has started a new reading class for 9th graders who have very low reading levels but who don't qualify for special ed. We have identified 11 kids who read at 3rd grade level and are using the Jamestown Reading Navigator program from Glencoe. So far, it has been beneficial. One student has raised his level from 3.0 to 4.6.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I try putting a strong reader with a weak one and allowing them to read selections together in the hall or at different spots in the room.  We work on context clues and vocabulary which helps a lot with literature from different time periods.

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