How Can Teachers Make Reading Meaningful For The Student?

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Help your students build ‘text to life’ connections with these essential elements of reading success…

Reading is an essential component of learning. Often when students struggle within a specific subject matter, it is because of underdeveloped reading skills.

Range of Reading Ability

The range of reading ability in any given classroom is approximately 2/3 of the students’ chronological age. This means that in a classroom of mostly 15 years old, the range of reading ability, and “inability,” across the class will span 10 years. In other words, within one seemingly heterogeneous class, the most at risk students could have a 5th grade reading level and the most advanced students could have a 15th grade reading level. Given the fact that the reading range in any given classroom varies extensively, all educators should be aware of best practices and essential elements to focus on, in reading instruction.

Essential Elements

In any written material, there are three sources of information. In order to develop or enhance a student’s reading skills, all three of the following elements must exist.

1. Meaning

The first component of understanding text, is to understand what the text means. When a student can grasp the overall meaning of the text, they can figure out difficult words, or particular sentences more easily. Cues from the text and illustrations, as well as prior knowledge and experience can help give meaning to the text. While encountering a difficult phrase or word, students can think about…

  • What should make sense.
  • The picture in the book and in their head.
  • What they think it might be or mean.

2. Visual

Visual information comes from the word itself. Students can be taught to look at the word for visual cues to help them understand what it is. They can look at prefixes, suffixes, and sounds in the word that may give them an idea of what the word is about. In some situations, punctuations can also provide clues that help in reading.

3. Structure

Structural information refers to cues from grammatical patterns, language structures and the rules of English. Paying attention to the structure of the text can help students understand and comprehend difficult words or phrases. Some questions a student could ask themselves are:

  • What would sound right?
  • What is another word that might fit there?
  • How could it be said in another way?

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