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Teaching Strategies for Struggling Readers

Janelle Cox

One of the many jobs we have as a teacher is using teaching strategies to make sure that our students don’t struggle in the classroom. The last thing that any teacher wants is to see is their students have a problem with reading. Reading is the foundation of all learning. If our students struggle with that, then how are they going to learn anything else? Luckily, there are a few teaching strategies that we as teachers can try to help encourage our students to be proficient readers. Try these instructional teaching strategies the next time you encounter a problem reader.

The Imagery Teaching Strategies

The Imagery strategy was developed and designed to increase a student’s comprehension, as well as help activate their background knowledge about the main idea or characters in a story, or the key concepts, in an expository text. Here’s how it works:

Steps

  • The teacher selects a text and helps the student identify the important events, characters, or key concepts in the text.
  • Then the teacher writes a guided journey that uses these key terms listed above. Here is an example of what the teacher may say prior to reading the text:

“Close your eyes, and relax. Listen to the noises in the classroom. Now, turn the noises of this room into the sounds of the waves crashing on the shoreline. Can you hear the waves? As you’re at the shore, walk closer to the water. Now, notice the boat that is in the water. Swim over to it. Can you feel the water on your skin? Now you are in the boat floating in the water. I am leaving you now, when you are finished with your journey, open your eyes.”

  • Once the students have completed their guided journey, have them discuss what happened while they were there.
  • Next, have the student read the text to compare what they experienced in their guided journey with what actually happened in text.

This strategy is best for students who are passive readers. Passive readers usually don’t use their prior knowledge to make connections to the text when they are reading. It is also great for students who are imaginative and who like to use images to help them construct meaning.

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Directed Listening-Thinking Activity Strategy

The Directed Listening-Thinking Activity (DLTA) is a strategy that was designed for students who have not yet mastered independent reading. It’s best for students who need to check for understanding, who need to practice active thinking strategies, as well as for passive readers who may need help making predictions. Teachers like to use this strategy to help develop students’ predictive listening and comprehension skills, as well as to establish a purpose for what students are reading. The DLTA involves pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading discussions where students will predict what will happen in the text, talk about what happened in the text, and then discuss how they knew what happened in the text.

Steps

Before Reading

  • The teacher asks the student to predict what the story will be about by asking the student to read the title of the book. The teacher may or may not take the student through a quick book walk of the story.
  • To activate the students’ prior knowledge, the teacher may ask a few questions to try and make the student connect any real world experiences they may have had to the text.

During Reading

  • As the teacher reads the text, they ask the student to talk about what has happened so far, then to discuss previous predications that they have made. The teacher may model a question, such as “Why did the author did say …”
  • The teacher also stops periodically throughout the story to make or revise any predications that were made by the student.

After Reading

  • After reading the text, the teacher and the student discuss the text and talk about their predications and comments, as well as try and make real-world connections to the text.

Many teachers have found these two strategies for struggling readers to be very effective. However, in order for them to be effective, for every problem reader, they may have to be modified. You must first observe and evaluate how each child responds to the strategy, then you can modify the strategy depending upon your observations.

 Do you use any of the above teaching strategies for struggling readers with your students? Share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.