Friday, June 10, 2011

Close the Learning Gap in Reading

This might not sound exactly profound to you.  But it feels profound to me.  I've spent a lot of time reading the research over the past couple of years on how to close the reading gap.  What do we do with students who are significantly behind in reading? and can they catch up?  Two findings come up repeatedly. Students need to increase their volume of reading, and their reading needs to be on the appropriate reading level.

This past year I was working with kids who were struggling to catch up.  I decided to embrace these two items...GETTING MY STUDENTS TO READ MORE and making sure that their books were on their "JUST- RIGHT" LEVEL. This doesn't sound very new does it?  But it's important for me to point out, that I didn't just offer this SUGGESTION to my students.  I made it my MISSION!  Not only did I instruct my students to read a minimum of 30 minutes per night, sent home a daily reading log, helped my students choose their books, and offered prizes.  It was our CONSTANT conversation and focus.  It got to the point that when kids would see me coming, they would shout out, "I read last night Miss McCrary!"I could FEEL it becoming a habit with some of them who had only pretended in the past to read as part of their homework.

Some students jumped on board more readily than others, and of course, some had parents following up at home.  The result was, that most of the students improved and showed significant growth.  But those who really seemed to BELIEVE my advice, read with such dedication, that they improved by as many as 7 reading levels.  I was so proud of their efforts.  It has me thinking there might be something to this theory.

Will it solve all reading difficulties?  No, I'm afraid not.  There are a variety of hurdles to fluent reading that require additional interventions, but if you are looking for something to help your struggling readers, perhaps this is a good starting place?

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