Help struggling content area readers


Good habits for struggling readers

Reading independence happens when students purposely use their reading skills to enhance learning.

What skills do our students need to independently learn from reading informational text?

  • Basic reading skills to comprehend text
  • A vocabulary to support learning from content area reading
  • Approach text based on common subject area text structure
  • Able to read age-appropriate text fluently
  • Understand the reasons for using text to learn
  • Background knowledge to support meaning from the text

Prepare struggling readers for content area reading

  • Preview key concepts or vocabulary
  • Plan pre-read discussions
  • Write pre and post reading to target key learning
  • Read complex text in chunks to scaffold learning and check for understanding
  • Practice making inferences from text at central learning points
  • Model and practice thinking techniques while students are using complex text
  • Teach, model, and practice word strategies
  • Implement targeted vocabulary curriculum along with increased reading time

Intervention classroom or site level


What learning gaps do we need to close in our classrooms?

Classroom interventions bridge gaps.

Teacher designed interventions have the advantage of using

  • performance data
  • actual student work
  • teacher knowledge and experience with a student

Teacher experience is a significant advantage in intervention decisions. The process uses valuable instructional time, and data is not the only method to identify and intervene with learning gaps.

What students need additional help right now?

Team or classroom designed interventions should target manageable gaps.

Students with long-term needs benefit from targeted instructional practice and support by district programs and services.

Are we confident in the data used to place students in the intervention?

I was asked to analyze an after-school intervention program that was very successful. Plans were underway to move the program district-wide because students were exiting the program with great success.

We first reviewed the data and decisions used to place students in the program. It turned out the students entered the program based on misunderstood data. Overall, students across the state scored low in this area. The intervention students scores exceeded state and county averages for the previous year. The intervention success was not growth. Students performed at the standard level.

Make sure the performance data uses a quality assessment or task, along with teacher input.

What intervention should we use with our students? What materials or resources are available?

If you know the reason for intervention, it will be much easier to identify resources and methods to use.

Use materials and resources aligned to standard and instruction, with appropriate rigor and complexity to bridge a student learning gap.

Does we have the right target?

The reason for the intervention, and how it will help the student, will define the value of the intended outcome.

Results should improve long-term student learning, not raise test scores. Teachers and students benefit from selfishness in these decisions.

Do we all understand the process and intended results of the intervention?

The targeted result will keep a focus on the process and students.

Once you have decided on the intervention, plan for implementation and instruction, and keep all activities and conversations focused on the outcome.

Focus makes it easier to avoid creeping to additional issues. There will be other problems, but do not let that sidetrack momentum.

Interventions tend to grow out of control without a strict focus on the intended target.

Who will deliver the intervention?

Every person that interacts with the student learning needs to understand the plan. Offer professional development and other support models to teachers not comfortable with the process.

How will we know that the intervention is working?

Formative models allow for unique perspective

Team formative assessment models work to measure progress and gain.

When all students, even those not in the intervention, take an assessment, you get a unique perspective. It allows for the comparison of intervention students to those not participating. It is a good way to check on progress to closing a gap.

Assessments, formal or informal that match current instructional rigor and align to standards will inform your performance data requirements.

How will we know the student is ready to exit from the intervention?

Intervention does not last forever. Have a plan for student exit, and program completion. Release students once they demonstrate the skills and thinking necessary to move back into the regular classroom learning progression.