10 Ways to Help Struggling Readers in the Upper Elementary Classroom Part 2
Last week we shared five tips and suggestions for reaching your struggling readers. You know the ones that have been hiding, absent so many days, or pretended to just shuffle by readers since first grade and now they are struggling BIG time in the upper elementary classroom. Can't you picture some of their discouraged faces right now? We are back today with five more ideas and suggestions to help you help your at risk students!
6. Use books that are sing alongs! Incorporate music as much as possible! Typically students who struggle at reading have learning styles that aren't most conducive to the conventional public school classroom. I love using books that are also songs. Using texts like the Star Spangled Banner, Chicken Soup With Rice, Pierre, This Land Is Your Land, and One Was Johnny are fun ways to engage the reader with words and once again allow them to experience success with a text in an enjoyable way.
7. Go on a spree with analyzing texts! Sure, they can check out books from the library "on their level" but can they actually access the texts that we are providing for them in our classrooms? Check the levels of the texts that you use and bring your expectations down a notch. This is actually how our differentiated passages were born-we knew our science and social studies textbooks were written at least two grade levels too high and they certainly were't accessible for all learners. This should not be!
8. Immerse them in environmental print-open their brains and pour in as much as you can in! Well, not really. But expose them to everything you can in the time you are given. In tangible ways. Teach soft skills. I once did a unit on the sugar contents of food because my kids were obsessed with honey buns. We examined food labels and got them reading pop tart wrappers at breakfast, milk cartons at lunch, and other real world labels everywhere! Find something they like and have them begin to read for information that they care about or have connections to!
9. Invest in the GoNoodle premium and do Body Spell. Get them moving! Each week, type in sight words, vocabulary words, spelling words (do they even exist anymore!?!), and get busy spelling! This is a great time filler when you have a schedule change or tiny gap in your day AND also a way for you to catch your breath during transitions and/or set up. This is time well spent for the struggling reader who is once again engaging in a physical or non-traditional way with words. The repetitive exposer is a guaranteed way to continue boosting confidence and increasing their vocabulary.
10. Last but not least-Don't give up or get too busy. You likely have 20+ other students vying for your attention. There are deadlines, plans to write, discipline issues, and too much to even list that is competing for your time, emotions, and energy. It is tempting to fall into a "they are too far behind" mindset and it is easy to get frustrated with the amount of time invested with (what may seem) as a snail's pace progress. Just remember, if your prescribed solution to the problem is correct, you will be the one responsible for changing their entire educational path, mindset, and life-by helping them learn to read. And that, is why we became teachers in the first place.
Good luck with applying these tips with your at-risk students and let us know how we can further help you and your students succeed!