Struggling Readers

This post comes from a veteran EC teacher who has most recently been a 7th grade inclusion teacher.

Students who struggle with reading comprehension are common in the ELA classroom. Some students may have IEPs, but all students, regardless of whether or not they have an IEP, deserve to be set up for success. There are many ways to make reading comprehension easier for students who struggle. 

Make it active.

Silent reading can turn into staring at a page or skipping the passage and answering the questions. Consider letting students read with a partner. It is important to make sure it is a partner that they feel comfortable reading with. If your class doesn’t do well with partners, allow students to read aloud to themselves or try “whisper reading.” This has many purposes. Not only are they engaged with the reading, but they are also practicing their reading fluency. 

Create buy-in.

Many students are not used to having success with reading and understanding what they are reading. They naturally resist reading because it can be so challenging. Helping students make connections can help them become interested. Help them find things that they might have in common with the main character, setting, or lesson. Have the student look for words that they don’t know or words that look intriguing. This way they are invested in the topic and the reading becomes a little more hands-on.

Let them listen and read along.

If possible, let them listen to the reading on an audio recording while they are following along with the reading passage or book. There are many different audio versions of books available through Audible or other similar websites online. I have even recorded a read-aloud version of a short story that my students could listen to and posted it on YouTube. This way they can listen over and over again to the paragraph that didn’t quite grasp the meaning of. This can take the pressure off of students that are having difficulty with decoding. If they are not so focused on figuring out how to say the word staring at them, then they might actually have an easier time understanding what they are reading.

Take it slow.

When reading aloud with students, stop often and recap what you have read. Let them tell you what they heard when reading. Have them jot down a couple of words that will help them put the text in their own words. Graphic organizers can be especially helpful when trying to get students to engage and remember what they are reading.

All students want to be successful. Many students that struggle with reading in middle school loved reading when they were younger. Providing students that struggle with reading with the tools to be successful may help ignite the passion they had for reading when they were younger.