Strategies for Readers Who Struggle

Shelby Soper

What defines a struggling reader?

--Readers who can't do one or more of the following:

1. recognize letters and sounds

2. blend sounds into syllables and words

3. comprehend meanings of words by themselves, in sentences, and paragraphs

4. get the meaning of texts of all types of genres

5. inability to pull meaning from text

Why do they struggle?

Potential factors that causes readers to struggle...

1. text is outside schematic knowledge

2. physical impairments

3. disruptive environmental conditions

4. texts present emotionally challenging or disturbing subject matter

5. form of the text is idiosyncratic and complex

As teachers...

1. Remember that reading is not a natural process.

2. Teach explicitly and through a variety of strategies

Strategies we can use...

1. Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • teacher modeling -- teacher models and explains the strategy (keep it short and sweet!)
  • guided practice -- students practice in a large group
  • collaborative practice -- students share their thinking processes with each other
  • independent practice -- students try the strategy on their own
  • teacher is always providing feedback and assessing students

2. Reading Workshop

  • similar to gradual release of responsibility
  • 10-15 minute mini lesson where teacher models
  • Practice with a partner
  • Use the strategy during Individualized Daily Reading
  • Closing -- students come back and discuss what they learned by using the strategy

3. Word Attack Strategies

  • Word Boxes
  • Word Banks

Reading Programs...

The Herman Method for Reversing Reading Failure

-- What is it?

a "multi-sensory, bi-hemispheric, brain-based approach to help students compensate for their visual and auditory processing problems"


* contains spelling and handwriting components

* 20 sequential levels of instruction for each reading level

*coordinates visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile information

*uses comprehensive approach to teach a variety of literacy and language skills

*emphasis on comprehension skills

-- Cons?



*focusing on the wrong part of the program and neglecting reading portion

Assessment... DIBELS

--What is it?

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS for short)

*takes approximately two-three minutes to administer each section

*four stepping stones that indicate which students will display learning difficulties and eventual learning disabilities

*recommended for kindergarten through third grade