Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Strategies to Boost Reading Scores

I am sorry, but I must say the phrase. Common Core.  For some students, the Common Core Assessment is no big deal. For others, it causes frustration.  This blog post provides classroom tested strategies that have boosted the reading performance of below and on-level students.  Even better, the strategies take very little extra preparation.

Strategy 1:
Expose students to extra reading passages, and discuss them for just five minutes a day. 

Students build vocabulary knowledge and tackle harder text with extra support.

What to Use:
Daily Common Core Reading Passages or Short passages from magazines.  Organize magazine articles by topic.  Discuss them for a few minutes a day.  Over time, students begin to learn vocabulary words and learn how to tackle harder text.  This is what I did everyday until I created Daily Common Core Reading.

Strategy 2:
Teach thematically.  When I first began teaching, I mostly focused on skills.  Week one we worked on main idea, week two we worked on inferences, etc.  After further research on theme based teaching, I decided to give it a try.  It works!  Even my lowest performing students that had previously struggled for years made great leaps.  I still teach these topics, but I do it now in the context of  a theme such as animal adaptations, how societies or communities change over time, etc.

Strategy 3:
Assess students on how well they apply reading strategies.  Students must explain how a specific passage is connected to an overall theme.  They must explain how ideas in a passage advance the author's main idea or the plot.  Often, students know they should apply strategies, but they do not always consistently use them.

Strategy 4:
Read higher grade level text to students, and encourage them to read specific types of texts.  As soon as I began to read to students (even my older ones), I was able to make them into believers.  I highly encourage using high-interest quick text.  You can use these short high interest stories or read Goosebumps to lower grade level students, Gary Paulson stories to intermediate grade levels, and odd but true stories to middle school students.  Gradually, shift students to reading magazines such as National Geographic for Kids, (selected articles) from the Economist (middle school students), etc. Students have to gradually read more complex text in order to grow as readers.

Strategy 5:
Make use of those dead periods in the day to double dose instruction.  The first ten minutes of the school day, the beginning of a class period, and even the end of the school day are good.  I take those times to give students targeted extra practice at their own levels. This is especially helpful if you have students that do not do read at home.  The extra 15 minutes of targeted reading (with progress charts) adds up and really helps.  


Boost Common Core Reading Scores
Common Core Reading

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