Reaching Struggling Readers - Manitoba Reading Association

Reaching Struggling
Leigh A. Hall
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
[email protected]
What Will You Learn?
• Deeper understandings about struggling readers
• Ways to engage struggling readers with texts
• Practical ideas you can use tomorrow
Today’s Meet
Common Understandings
• Typically understood as students:
• reading below grade level
• who do not read much and/or enjoy reading
• who are unmotivated to improve
• who have repeated difficulties comprehending academic texts
“Adolescents who struggle with reading are
part of the same cloth from which good
readers come. Neither group stands alone
in opposition to the other, both are bound
up in the cultural contexts they inhabit.” ~
Donna Alvermann, 2010
Many Adolescents Read by Choice
I like to read mystery books and
books about the holocaust.
I read the biography of
Mohammad Ali over the
I like reading fantasies and
imagining things. I can read any
book I want.
Adolescents Engage in a Variety of
Literacy Activities
Many Adolescents Want to
I want to be great
Reading on a 9th/10th grade level
A well reader who understands the text.
A great reader who can pronounce hard words
I want to understand more words
I want to read more challenging books
• All students are always doing the best they can do at any given
• What counts as someone’s best today may look different
tomorrow (for better or for worse), but it is still their best
• Someone’s best changes based on context, environment, and
What You Can Do Right Now
• Ask a struggling reader:
(a) to share what they read with you
(b) for ideas on what to read in class
(c) what they want to improve on
The Role of Identity
• What is a reading identity?
• Why are reading identities important?
What is a Reading identity?
 Reading identities are:
- how students understand themselves as readers within
a given context
- created at an early age and reinforced (or
disrupted) over time
- often constructed in terms of skills
Why Are Reading Identities
• Students’ reading identities position them within their class
and influence how they engage with classroom reading
• Students who see themselves as poor readers may not read
much or use the instruction you provide
• Students who see themselves as good readers may think they
do not need additional help
Students’ Reading Abilities and Identities
as Readers (n=72)
Identified As Low
Identified As
Identified As High
Read Below
Read On GradeLevel (n=13)
Read Above
Types of Readers
• Low-Performing: not good at reading, not as capable of
reading as their peers, and not good at solving comprehension
• Average-Performing: enjoyed reading, believed they could
read as well as most of their peers, and thought they had few
difficulties comprehending.
• High-Performing: believed they were the best readers in their
class, that their peers, teachers, and/or family members
thought they were excellent readers, and that they had few if
any comprehension problems.
Pick Any 10
How you
Why/Evidence How Student
One Approach for Addressing
• Engage students in six steps:
(a) comprehension strategy instruction
(b) read a piece of text and document strategy use
(c) engage in a small group discussion
(d) read second piece of text/document strategies
(e) engage in second discussion
(f) reflect on and discuss what was learned about texts
and strategies
Learning About Students’
• How would you describe yourself as a reader?
• Why do you think this description fits you?
• If someone told you that you were a good reader what would
this mean to you?
• If someone told you that you were a poor reader what would
this mean to you?
• How would other people describe your reading abilities?
This study used:Henk, W.A. & Melnick, S.A. (1995). The reader
self-perception scale (RSPS): A new tool for measuring how
children feel about themselves as readers. Reading Teacher, 48,
Classroom Procedures
• Strategies taught:
(a) Becoming metacognitive
(b) Making/checking predictions
(c) Activating prior knowledge
(d) Asking/revising/answering questions before, during, and
after reading
• Texts were selected that were written on grade level and matched
the curriculum.
Making and Checking
Activating Prior Knowledge
Asking and Answering
Explain how using the strategy was/was not helpful
What You Can Do Right Now
• Think of new ways to describe readers
• Students typically define themselves as excellent, average, or
poor readers.
• Different ways to describe ourselves can include:
• Social reader
• Hungry reader
• Reader as writer
Try out identity-based reading instruction
Learn what to expect from students with different reading
Engage students with pop culture texts
Read text
Complete strategy chart as you read
Be prepared to discuss text
(15 minutes)
In your group, discuss the text.
You can:
(a) discuss strategies you used
(b) discuss the text itself
(c) ask for help in understanding something
(15 minutes)
What would be the benefits of this instruction?
What would be the challenges of this instruction?
How would this instruction help students comprehend texts
and learn content?
What kinds of support would you have to put in place
Low-Performing: not good at reading, not as capable of
reading as their peers, and not good at solving
comprehension problems.
Average-Performing: enjoyed reading, believed they could
read as well as most of their peers, and thought they had
few difficulties comprehending.
High-Performing: believed they were the best readers in
their class, that their peers, teachers, and/or family
members thought they were excellent readers, and that
they had few if any comprehension problems.
Students who identified as high-performing readers,
regardless of their reading abilities, engaged in the
following actions:
(a) used comprehension strategies to
clarify/deepen their knowledge of content
(b) used strategies to support their interpretations of
(c) selected strategies based on what they believed
would best address their comprehension problem
Example of an HPR Group
[a] Diane: Ok. Look right here.
[b] Michael: Starting with the second sentence?
[c] Diane: Yeah. The second sentence in paragraph five has it. Reread it.
[d] Michael: Man, that’s what I just said.
[e] Diane: They were a highly developed society but, but…
[f] Michael: But the volcano killed all their island.
[g] Thomas: It says that “more than half the island sank into the ocean.”
You gotta look at it again.
[h] Michael: The volcano blew everything up. It exploded and then it
[i] Diane: Ohhhh. I get it.
[j] Thomas: That’s what volcanoes do. You have to think what you know
about them. Volcanoes they like tear everything up. So like first it blew
up, and then the island sank.
[k] Michael: It wouldn’t have sank if the volcano didn’t blow up.
Students who identified as average or low-performing
readers, regardless of their reading abilities, engaged in
the following actions:
(a) separated their talk about strategies from their
talk about text
(b) did not use strategies to support their
interpretations of text
(c) used strategies that were their favorites
regardless of their comprehension problem
Example of an APR Group
[a] Karen: He [Columbus] wanted to sail west because the world is round.
[b] Jay: That’s not why though. He had to reach the Indies.
[c] Karen: I got all the other people trying to reach the Indies went East, and he went West.
[d] Terry: Why?
[e] Karen: Because he believed the world was round.
[f] Terry: Really.
[g] Jay: It has nothing to do with it…He was trying to find a shorter way.
[h] Karen: Well that’s not what the story said. I promise.
[i] Terry: He can’t go East because if he went East , it would be like oh land, how do you sail a boat
on land?
[j] Jay: If he went East it’d be the same thing as everybody else. He wanted to go the other way to
see if he could get there. It had nothing to do with the world being round.
[k] Cathy: Well he was trying to find a short cut, but he was trying to find it because the world
was round. So you all are both right.
[L] Jay: Now, no, because no, no. It wasn’t because the world was round. It was because –
[m] Randy: He already knew the world was round so why –
[n] Jay: The world was round had nothing to do with it. He didn’t go over there because the world
was round…It had nothing to do with the world being round…
[o] Karen: Yes it does.
[p] Jay: No it doesn’t. No it doesn’t.
Example of an LPR Group
• [a] Natalie: Today in my reading I used making and checking
• [b] Mary: I didn’t use making and checking predictions, but I
did use my prior knowledge when I read.
• [c] Natalie: What about you Emma?
• [d] Emma: Well I used um making and checking predictions,
and I used asking and answering questions.
• [e] Natalie: What about you Patrick?
• [f] Patrick: I used my prior knowledge when I read and asking
and answering questions and uh that’s it.
• [g] Natalie: Ok. Let’s talk about the story.
Students need assistance:
(a) seeing how strategies are integrated with reading
(b) using texts to support their claims
(c) learning how to select strategies based on the
difficulties they are having
Students who read below grade-level:
(a) limited their participation during the first four to six
(b) over time began to increase their talk about texts
and comprehension strategies
(c) began to increase their participation and take on
leadership roles within their groups.
Struggling readers actively observed and learned from the
participation of their group members.
“I wasn’t a very good reader when this started. I just
listened to everyone else. The more people explained
things the more I understood and the more I
A cooperative, inviting, and accepting environment was
important for providing students with a place to learn.
I didn’t say a lot at first because I never do. If I’m in a
group people always argue and try to be bossy. That
didn’t happen in my group. My group really helped me.
We helped each other think about our questions and
stuff like that. And it would be ok if I didn’t understand
something or changed my answer to something. We
just talked about everything. My whole group was
helpful. And I wanted to help them back. So I started
talking more.
When struggling readers believe their ideas about texts will
be heard and respected, they are more likely to participate
Creating such environments requires examining the current
climate of our classrooms and our assumptions about both
struggling readers and good readers.
The language we use with our students, the books we
select, and how we invite participation sends messages
about who should participate, how often, and what it should
look like.
Normalize Struggling
Ask students to identify places where they struggled to
Have them share how they tried to solve their problems
Have students offer other ideas for how they could have
approached their problem
“While grade-level reading scores might give a basic
starting point of what kinds of instruction some students
might need, they give no indication of how students apply
instruction or what guides their decisions. It is important to
not be too attached to labels and to examine and question
the models of identity that permeate reading instruction
and are taken for granted within classrooms.” ~Leigh Hall,
Most students think reading in school is boring
Texts/curriculum appear to be disconnected from their lives
Students may not understand purpose for reading
Establish clear goals for reading
Be purposeful and explicit in teaching skills/strategies
Provide choice in texts
Make real world connections
Support collaboration
Students read a wide range of non-academic texts
Their experiences give them significant knowledge about
Pop culture texts can be used to engage students with
academic texts
Okay, so now you know that I'm a cartoonist. And I think I'm
pretty good at it, too. But no matter how good I am, my
cartoons will never take the place of food or money. I wish I
could draw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a fist full
of twenty dollar bills, and perform some magic trick and
make it real. But I can't do that. Nobody can do that, not
even the hungriest magician in the world.
I wish I were magical, but I am really just a poor-ass
reservation kid living with his poor-ass family on the poorass Spokane Indian Reservation. (2.1-2.2)
1.What do you know about
2. Do zombies have feelings?
3. Can zombies control their
4. What is your evidence base?
What do we know about
Do they have feelings?
Can they control their
What is our evidence?
They’re dead; eat braina
How did this video challenge your understandings about
What was something new you learned about zombies?
Is it safe to assume all (or most) zombies act the way the
main character did?
What do you think the author wants to communicate with
you about zombies?
The zombie text provides a common framework to engage
students in real world issues.
Not all students will be interested in zombies, but all
students can learn from them.
Part-Time Indian
Can a person fit into two
If you were Junior, would
you hide or promote your
Indian identity at Reardon?
Do you think Alexie feels
that people can exist
equally in two groups? Why
or why not?
Zombie Song
Can a person fit into two
Would you hide or promote
a romance with a zombie?
Does the author of the
Zombie Song think
zombies and humans can
co-exist? Why or why not?
Talk to your students about their interests
Find out what your students read, listen to, and watch at
Start making connections between academic texts/content
and pop culture texts/content
Please contact me at: [email protected]

similar documents