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October 2011

Differentiate With Literacy Li


JudyBrunner J d B AuthorandConsultant www.isolutionsgroup.org 4173002482 Twitter @judybrunner

Seeing Hearing ExperiencingPersonally TeachToSomeoneElse SeeingandHearing S i dH i Reading DiscussWithOthers

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October 2011

Teaching Suggestion
Question Reduce Read Discuss

Good Readers
Before Reading Activate prior knowledge Understand task and purpose Choose appropriate strategies

Poor Readers
Before Reading Start reading without preparation Read without knowing why Read without a strategy

October 2011

Good Readers
During Reading Focus attention Monitor comprehension Anticipate and predict Use fix up strategies Use contextual analysis

Poor Readers
During Reading Are easily frustrated Do not know they dont understand Read to get done Do not know what to do when there is a lack of understanding

Good Readers
During Reading Use text structure Integrate new information with previous knowledge

Poor Readers
During Reading Do not recognize important vocabulary Do not see organization of book

October 2011

Good Readers
After Reading Reflect & Summarize B li Believe success is a i result of effort Seek additional information from other sources

Poor Readers
After Reading Stop reading and g thinking Feel success is a result of luck

Before Reading
Student Role Think about what they already know and would like to know Set purpose for reading Teacher Role Motivate and set p p purposes for reading g Activate background knowledge Relate reading to students lives Preview text to anticipate challenges Pre-teach vocabulary

October 2011

During Reading
Student Role Make personal connections Id tif confusing parts Identify f i t Monitor understanding Recall information Teacher Role Break reading down into manageable parts Provide predetermined stopping points for discussion Ask higher level thinking questions and provide ample wait time for answers

After Reading
Student Role Talk and write about what was read Make connections to other texts Teacher Role Provide opportunities for students to respond to the t t t th text Provide accountable and purposeful discussion Encourage peer discussion Help relate reading to students lives

October 2011

Fluency What Works?

Repeated readings alone or with an adult Paired reading with a good reading model Listening while reading (allows the struggling reader to silently rehearse a passage by first following along silently in the text as someone else reads it aloud Read aloud from the book for 2 minutes as the student follows along silently. Next, have student read the same passage alone. If the student alone mispronounces a word, point to the word, say the word, have the student repeat the word and tell them to continue reading. Have students practice with fiction and non-fiction

Fluency What Works?


Read along with a student until he taps you on the hand. That is the signal that the student is ready to read orally without support. If a student reads a word incorrectly, skips a word, or doesnt know a word point to the word, read the word, ask the student to repeat the word, and then join them in reading aloud. Recognize that when students are struggling with fluency, the research is t d fi iti i not definitive related to the value of l t d t th l f silent reading. Round robin reading has merit, but this will not be enough for struggling readers.

October 2011

Fluency What Works?


Round robin reading is of limited value related to fluency it embarrasses poor readers and provides limited opportunity to y actually read. Using flash cards and decoding words in isolation does not necessarily help fluency. When helping beginning readers, do not overemphasize speed accuracy is more important. Pushing students to t read faster may encourage df t guessing and impulsivity. With beginning readers, emphasize word recognition and word analysis skills.

Choral Reading
Teacher and students read aloud together following the teachers pace. The teacher can stop at any time to ask questions, comment on , y, text, discuss vocabulary, or remind students that everyone is to be reading. When student grouping includes lower performing students, they may have difficulty keeping up with the pace. However, they can still hear the text and listen to good pacing and phrasing. Teachers should direct all students regardless of age or ability level to use a marker or finger to follow along in the text as they read.

October 2011

Cloze Reading
This is similar to choral reading, except the teacher does most of the oral reading while students read silently. Every few sentences, the teacher should omit an important vocabulary word. It is the students job to read it aloud as a class. This strategy allows teachers to cover text and keep students engaged while avoiding the problem of l f low performing students reading to f i t d t di t the class. Like choral reading, struggling readers may have difficulty keeping up, but they are still listening to good phrasing and pacing.

Oh No!!
I just dont get it

Try This
Turn the heading into a question and reread to find the answer to your question

October 2011

Oh No!!
I get the overall idea but then cant remember the details

Try This
Discuss what you are reading with someone else, take notes, or both If necessary use mnemonic necessary, devices

Oh No!!
I dont understand much at all

Try This T Thi

Ask someone who understands the content to explain then reread Look up the topic online to build background knowledge

October 2011

Oh No!!
I can remember a few facts but overall understanding isnt there

Try This
Look for graphic organizers within the text Use text structures identify what is important Read the introduction and summary Think of questions for the author and try to find the answers

Oh No!!
I dont have any background knowledge on the topic

Try This
Read information online, or from a magazine or talk to someone more knowledgeable about the subject y g g before you begin reading Make a listing of what you already know about the topic


October 2011

Oh No!!
I might as well be reading a foreign language

Try This
Locate important vocabulary and find the meaning in context, use the glossary or ask someone to help you find something easier to read on the topic Ask for help with word pronunciation Ask for someone to help you put the information in the form of a graphic organizer

Oh No!!
I cant concentrate when I read

Try This
Read more quickly or slow down vary your rate Stop and think about what you just read Take t T k notes or use post it notes t t Set a purpose for reading Set a specific amount of time to learn the material


October 2011

Oh No!!
At first I understand then I get lost

Try This
Summarize what you have read so far and then ask someone about it Try to predict what might come next in the text Try t i T to pinpoint when you get i t h t confused and reread the paragraph before that happened Go back to the confusing text and take notes

Oh No!!
I reread and still didnt get it

Try This
Read the text orally or ask someone to read it to you Try to pinpoint what is most confusing and ask the teacher or g someone else to help clarify Use a system column note taking and take notes over the content


October 2011

Oh No!!
I cant tell what is important and what isnt important

Try This
Use the structure of the text bold print, graphics, summaries, vocabulary words, etc. Set a purpose for reading Use a double column note taking approach Whats important Why? Whats interesting Why?

Teaching Suggestion

Re Quest Procedure
This is my personal favorite!! Blooms Questions for Students


October 2011

Teaching Suggestion
Knowledge Chart
We Know Need to Remember

Teaching Suggestion

That Was Then This is Now

That Was Then This Is Now


Blooms Questions for Students

What is? Where is..? How did happen? Why did? When did? Who were the main.? Which one? How is? How would you describe.? Can you recall? Can you select? Can you list three? Who was? How would you explain?

How would you classify? How would you compare or contrast? How would you rephrase? What facts or ideas show? Which statement supports? Which is the best answer? How would you summarize? What is the main idea?

How would you use? What examples can you find? How would you solve.using what youve learned? What approach would you use to? What would result if.? What facts would you select to show? What questions would you ask in an interview with? Can you make use of the facts to?

What are the parts or features of? How isrelated to ? Why do you think?

What is the theme? What motive is there? Can you list the parts? What inference can you make? What conclusions can you draw? How would you categorize or classify? Can you identify the different parts? What evidence can you find? What is the relationship between? What ideas justify?

Do you agree with the actions? With the outcome? What is your opinion of? How would you prove? Disprove? Would it be better if? How could you determine? How would you rate? How would you prioritize? How would you justify? Why was it better that? What information could you use to support the view? What judgment would you make about?

What changes would you make to solve? How would you improve? Can you elaborate on the reason? Can you propose an alternative? Can you invent? How would you adaptto create a different? How would you test? Can you construct a model that would change? Can you predict the outcome if? Can you formulate a theory for? What way would you design? What could be done to minimize or maximize?

Differentiated Grouping Designs - Differentiated Instructional Strategies for

Reading in the Content Areas 2nd Ed. Carolyn Chapman & Rita King

Type of Grouping
Knowledge Base Ability Interests

Formation of Group
Pre-assessment data Teacher assignment Skills test Inventory Volunteers Student sign up Teacher assignment Volunteers Student sign up Random Teacher assignment Pre-assessment data Approved volunteer Luck of draw Numbering Selecting a Color Picking a Card Sign up Teacher assignment Volunteer Random Number off Teacher assignment Cluster of desks Teacher assignment Volunteer Rotation Teacher assignment Sign up Volunteer Sign up Survey results Volunteer Teacher assignment Random Volunteer Sign up Survey results Teacher assignment Random Volunteer Sign up Teacher assignment

Description of the Task

Similar backgrounds and experiences with the information. Similar needs and skill levels Work in areas of high interest or choice

Small Group Discussion

Team is formed to talk about or learn about an issue, problem or topic

Peer-to-Peer Tutoring


Student teaches another student Students that have had an Aha! moment make good tutors for a subject Unknown team membership adds to anticipation of activity


Given task by teacher. Roles are established. Team works together to solve issue or reach consensus


Small group assigned a section, topic, or problem to explain to rest of class or to another group Works at a learning zone or center together or individually Read, study, process, research, and discuss a text, novel or article Team comes to consensus on an issue based on similar opinions Members take a position and argue the issue with others with opposing views Given an assignment for an in-depth study


Literary Circles

Debate Team

Project Team

Research Team

Conducts a search through reference materials and takes notes Data compiled

Reading Partner

Learning Community Team

Analysis Team

Problem Solving Team

Sign up Teacher assignment Volunteer Random Sign up Teacher assignment Volunteer Random Sign up Teacher assignment Volunteer Random

Two students read text together and complete followup task create a product, take notes, discussion with feedback, etc. Study and discuss a text, or topic of interest

Digs deep into an issue to differentiate facts from opinions

Team selects a problem to solve school, community, state, or national

Helping Students Help Themselves

When You Just Cant Concentrate Possible Solutions 1. Trying to study late into the evening seldom gives much of a return in terms of retention. The best time to study is immediately after school. At that time of day, it is easier to be in a school mindset, as well as to remember directions and lesson content. If studying in the afternoon is not possible due to other commitments, try studying as soon as possible after the conclusion of the school day. 2. Preview the structure of the text prior to beginning any reading assignment. It only takes a few minutes to survey a chapter and make note of headings, subheadings, titles, graphics, and words in bold or italicized print. Remember the author uses text structure to communicate what is important, as well as to activate background knowledge on a topic. 3. Immediately rereading a text may not yield the most in terms of learning. For the time spent, taking notes will be more supportive of the overall understanding of material. If rereading is necessary, approach the material differently by turning headings into questions or by first reading the conclusions. 4. Wait to take notes over a text until the end of a section. Stopping and starting reading in an attempt to take notes over content can interfere with the ability to stay focused. Read to the end of the section, and make notes or highlight the text. 5. Remember underlining or highlighting will not support retention as much as written notes. Summarizing an authors thoughts or ideas requires a more active mind. 6. Do not wait to be in the mood for studying. Only rarely will people feel like doing homework. If waiting on inspiration or the proper mood, the task may never be completed. 7. If content of the text is challenging, find something easier to read on the same subject. Read the easier material first. Taking time to read a related text may help build confidence and activate background knowledge. With the use of the Internet, this is no longer a difficult or time-consuming task. 8. Be aware of noise and the surrounding environment. It is not possible to focus on more than one thing at a time. If a television or loud music is in the background, it will interfere with concentration. 9. Do not study in bed. If the assignment is less than novel or interesting, it will be difficult to remain awake. Sitting at a table with a chair that resembles a student desk will keep the mindset of academics in place. 10. When it is necessary to study for an exam and time is in short supply, learn the associated vocabulary words. While knowing vocabulary alone does not guarantee the best of grades, it may result in passing rather than failing the exam. 11. Recognize that reading rate varies, and variation is not necessarily a bad thing. Due to complexity of vocabulary and other factors, some subjects should be read more slowly.

12. Use flash cards, vocabulary cards, and term cards. When asked to remember new terminology, repetition can be helpful. Whether it is through the use of a self quiz or using the cards with a study buddy, flash cards can be beneficial. When self-quizzing, say answers aloud. For learners with a strong auditory memory, this strategy will help. 13. When studying for a test, try to anticipate possible questions. Write answers, and work with a friend to review and quiz. 14. When reviewing for an exam, divide a piece of paper vertically. In the left column write possible questions. In the corresponding column on the right, record possible answers. When it is time to study the notes, fold the paper from right to left covering the answers. Self quiz. If the answer does not come to mind, unfold the paper the paper and read the answer out loud. 15. Resist doodling on notes. Drawing unrelated pictures can be distracting and will make it difficult to actively listen during a lecture. If the mind starts to wander, look back through previous notes. At the very least, this keeps the topic in mind. 16. Read the authors questions prior to beginning to read a text. The questions may be at the beginning or the end of the chapter. They may even be in the margins. Regardless, questions help develop a purpose for reading the material. 17. Begin studying for the exam from the first day of class by frequently reviewing material. This will help place the information into long-term memory as well as minimizing test anxiety. 18. When reading, monitor comprehension. At any time the reading becomes a passive activity, regroup and refocus. 19. If the teacher does not provide a specific purpose for reading, set your own purpose. Suggested purposes might include the following: Pretend you are the teacher and write 5-10 possible test questions (with answers) from the text. Remember 5-7 things you learned that you did not know prior to the reading. Make a listing, and rank them according to importance. Make 5-7 personal connections to the reading content. Imagine how you might explain these connections to a friend. Imagine you are going to have to teach the most important points from the reading to a classmate. What information would you want to include in the lesson? Survey the content, and make note of the authors use of text structure. Which words are italicized, in bold font, or included in headings? Why are these words given a special notation? How does the meaning of those words impact the content of the reading selection? Locate important vocabulary words, and make a listing of the words, including a definition.

20. Use both graphics and words when taking notes during a lecture or from a text. A visual representation of a concept can help learners simplify and visualize complex information.

Metacognition and Reading to Learn

Prepared by: Norma Decker Collins ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #96

Researchers consistently posit that metacognition plays an important role in reading. Metacognition has been defined as "having knowledge (cognition) and having understanding, control over, and appropriate use of that knowledge" (Tei & Stewart, 1985). Thus, it involves both the conscious awareness and the conscious control of one's learning. In this digest, the implications of metacognition will be discussed as it relates to an important type of learning--reading to learn. In a summary of research on metacognition from the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois, Armbruster et al (1983) present reading to learn from a metacognitive perspective as it relates to four variables: texts, tasks, strategies, and learner characteristics. The first variable, text, refers to the textual features of learning materials which influence comprehension and memory. Factors such as arrangement of ideas in texts, vocabulary, syntax, clarity of author's intentions, and reader's interest and familiarity with a text all have an effect on students' learning. Salient findings from the research include three basic points: (1) text structures influence learning even if the learner is unaware of their effect; (2) knowledge of the effect of text structures on learning is dependent on age and ability; and (3) a reader can optimize learning by becoming aware of text structures and the resultant effect they have on learning. Knowledge of text structure is critical for reading to learn; it is requisite for efficient use of study time. By detecting the organizational patterns or structures of texts, students can observe how authors arrange ideas and determine which kinds of structures are used to interrelate ideas. In her research, Muth (1987) addresses text structures used most frequently in informational or expository materials found in content area textbooks. She presents three strategies designed to help students read and comprehend informational texts. These include hierarchical summaries, conceptual maps, and thematic organizers designed to raise students' awareness of structures of text. (See also Harris, 1990; DiGisi, 1992; and Piper, 1992) Armbruster's (1983) research suggests that younger and less mature readers do not concentrate on textual features because they are not aware of the impact text structures have on learning. Researchers contend that knowledge of the effect of text structures on learning is prerequisite to conscious control of strategies. Teachers need to instruct students to use text structure to enhance learning. Another area of research in the development of metacognition of text features is related to the recognition of inadequacies in prose. (For a treatment of this problem, see the 1989 ERIC Digest "Content Area Textbooks: Friends or Foes.") Ambiguous words or confusions within the text affect cognitive processing. Experienced readers will adjust their reading rate for anomalous texts and may return to an inconsistent sentence or passage several times, comparing what they know with what is written in the text. Older and more fluent readers are more aware of text inconsistencies and can judge whether or not their comprehension is altered because of such inconsistencies. Strategies suggested by Tei and Stewart (1985) will help students identify internal inconsistencies and deal with them appropriately. Another variable of metacognition in reading to learn pertains to the task that the reader is required to perform. For example, locating a specific detail in a text requires a different process than that needed to write a critical analysis of the text. As with other facets of metacognition, mature and immature learners differ with respect to their knowledge of, and ability to control, task variables.

Fundamental to any task in reading is the derivation of meaning from the text. In order for learning to occur, students must be aware that the purpose of reading is to construct meaning. The reader must learn how to adapt reading behavior to specific tasks. A related index of metacognitive development with regard to the task is the reader's ability to accurately predict his or her performance on the task. For young readers, this may be quite difficult, but with age and reading experience, readers begin to pick up cues which give them information about how well they have performed; these are important variables in metacognition of reading. An additional category of metacognitive knowledge and control involves knowing how to remedy comprehension failures. It is not enough to be aware of one's understanding or failure to understand--a learner must be able to self-regulate his or her reading process in order to read for comprehension. The reader needs knowledge about metacognition strategies. Researchers cite two different categories of strategies: "fix-up" strategies to resolve comprehension failures and studying strategies to enhance storage and retrieval when comprehension failure is not necessarily an issue (Armbruster, 1983). Tei and Stewart (1985) discuss several strategies for improving comprehension. These include forming a mental image, rereading, adjusting the rate of reading, searching the text to identify unknown words, and predicting meaning that lies ahead. Research indicates that readers use many strategies, but that a distinction exists between good readers and poor readers. Good readers tend to use the most effective strategy that leads to a thorough processing of the text. The research also supports that readers can be taught to develop self-awareness and control of learning. Study strategies are important in reading to learn and can be applied to enhance text processing. Common studying strategies include underlining, outlining, notetaking, summarizing, and self-questioning. Many of these strategies are complex and best handled by older and more experienced readers. Various studies have reported improved performance by middle school, junior high, and high school students who were trained to use specific studying strategies (see for example, Gertz, 1994; Langer & Neal, 1987). The decision a teacher makes about teaching metacognitive skills will be based on what serves his or her students best. Applying some of the strategies suggested by Schmitt and Hopkins (1993) may be appropriate when working with younger, inexperienced readers. The two researchers describe how to incorporate comprehension strategies into basal reading instruction to promote metacognition before, during, and after reading. A final category of metacognition in reading to learn is the awareness of the learner of his or her own characteristics--such as background knowledge, degree of interest, skills, and deficiencies--and of how these affect learning. Again, the reader must be able to take that awareness and translate it into a change in reading behavior. Research suggests that successful students tend to relate information in texts to previous knowledge; less successful students showed little tendency to use their knowledge to clarify the text at hand. Thus, learner characteristics, like texts, tasks, and strategies, are age and experience dependent. The development of metacognition appears to be linked to proficiency in learning. A related conclusion about metacognitive development is that knowledge precedes control. The researchers suggest that learners must first become aware of structures of text, as well as knowledge of the task and their own characteristics as learners, before they can strategically control the learning process to optimize the influence of these factors (Armbruster, 1983). Awareness of metacognitive skills can be gleaned through instruction. Teachers can help their students learn from reading: they can encourage students to take an active role in reading. The goal is to develop active, independent learners. Integrating metacognitive skills into classroom instruction can make that goal attainable.

n Judy Brunner


More Excuses


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Supporting literacy means jettisoning the strategies that dont work and adopting the strategies that do.

hat do reading and swimming have in common? First, both are important skills; second, both skills must be practiced to achieve proficiency; and third, students should continue to receive support and instruction until they can swim or read safely and without further assistance. Even after achieving mastery, practice is required to maintain proficiency. Although no one would doubt the need for the swimming instructor to stay close at hand until students are no longer in danger of drowning, it may be more difficult to understand the need to help secondary students master content literacy. But both skills are important, and no teacher should withhold appropriate support until students routinely demonstrate they are ready to successfully swim or read on their own.

What We Know
Over the years, researchers and practitioners have learned and developed a variety of classroom practices that support student literacy. Some ideas are new, some are vintage, and some are more practical than others. In the 21st century, there is no reason to ignore the needs of secondary students when it comes to reading fiction and morechallenging nonfiction text. Consequently, the time has come to resist the temptation to merely assign portions of the text or to blame students or their previous teachers for not getting the job done. Master teachers routinely and strategically support students while they read. Teachers and administrators understand accountability and are willing to accept responsibility for student learning, particularly when they believe that they have the necessary tools to improve the instructional environment. So what tools do educators need to support students while they read content-area text? When an administrator walks into a classroom and students are interacting with text, what should he or she see? (See figure 1 for a form of observable behaviors.) What should the teacher be doing? What should the students be doing?

Before reading
Activate background knowledge. Before reading a passage, the teacher should help students reflect on what they already know about the topic in class discussions or another venue, such as a blog. Establish purpose and choose appropriate strategies. Students must understand

Copyright National Association of Secondary School Principals, the preeminent organization for middle level and high school leadership. For information on NASSP products and service, visit www.principals.org.

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why they should read the information and the degree to which they will be held accountable for knowing it. Discussions should include what type of strategies students will need. Should they skim? Read slowly? Take notes? Predict content. After reviewing the headings, graphics, and bold and italicized words, students should make predictions of what they believe will be included in the content of the text. This task supports the purpose for reading when students are asked to verify the accuracy of their predictions. Motivate. The teacher has the expertise to help students understand why the reading content is important, and teacher enthusiasm for the subject is key. No one should expect a student to be excited about learning a difficult concept without the teacher providing an appropriate motivational set.

under the assumption it will be understood after further reading, or looking unknown words up in a dictionary or a glossary. Students need to know several fix-up strategies as well as how and when to use them. Use the structure of the text. Students need direct instruction in how to use supportive structures to enhance their comprehension. Supportive structures include headings, graphics, summaries, italicized or boldfaced words, and questions and statements written in the margin of the text. Authors and publishers understand the importance of supportive structures and use them strategically.

after reading
Write. When students summarize or interact with the text in written format, they build their comprehension. It should be a part of the teachers expectation and classroom routine for students to respond in writing to what was read in or out of class. Reflect and summarize. Students should integrate new information into what they already know. To support students overall understanding of the text, the teacher should ask them to discuss what part of the content is most important. Discuss the text in small and large groups. Because purposeful and meaningful discussion of the text increases understanding and comprehension, students should discuss the content with others. This can be done in small groups, large groups, or classroom blogs.

during reading
Monitor comprehension. The more difficult the reading, the more teachers must provide stopping points for discussion. When necessary, the teacher and the students can stop their reading to discuss what has been read and its significance in terms of the overall topic and to make additional predictions of the upcoming content. Make personal connections. Students must be encouraged to make personal connections to the content by relating the known to the unknown. Some may be able to do this without assistance, but others may need teacher support. Regardless, all will benefit from the exercise. Question. Teacher inquiry should always include questions that facilitate higher order ideas. Thinking beyond the text is an important skill that requires effort from both teacher and student. Use fix-up strategies. During the reading process, even the best readers may need to use fix-up strategies to understand the material. Some of the more common strategies include using the context of the sentence to clarify a definition, using phonetic analysis to help with pronunciation, skipping the word or phrase

Dos and Donts

Unfortunately, some long-standing and ineffective teaching practices are still used in far too many classrooms. Well-intentioned and dedicated educators use the best they know, but some strategies yield few, if any, positive results.


Give students time to preview the text before asking them to read orally. There is negative social stigma associated with

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Figure 1

Teacher Observation Form

Literacy & Student Engagement Strategies

Teacher Name:_________________________________________________ Date: ______________ Time: ____________

o Beginning o Middle

o End

# of Students: _______

Subject: _____________________________________

Observable Teacher & Student Behaviors

Before Reading Post and Review Educational Objectives Activate of Background Knowledge Preview Text (Including Text Structure) Preteach Vocabulary Ask Students to Make Predictions Provide Purpose for Reading Using High Level Questions Break Reading into Manageable Parts During Reading Use Predetermined Stopping Points for Discussion (Whole Class and Peer-to-Peer) After Reading Ask Students to Reflect in Writing Discuss (Whole Class and Peer to Peer) Discuss Relevance and Connection to Previous Learning or Reading Observable Teacher Behaviors Motivational Strategies, Including Relating Material to Students Lives Research-Based Reading Strategies (Vocabulary and Comprehension) Instructional Activities That Are Aligned to Learning Objectives Questioning Includes Multiple Levels of Blooms Taxonomy Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create Comments:

E = extensive M = moderate S = slight Student Engagement

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poor reading skills, and teachers must be sensitive to students self-consciousness. No student should ever be put into a position of being asked to read aloud when there is doubt that he or she might be able to perform the task satisfactorily. Activate the students background knowledge before assigning the text. In a science class, do the lab first. After students have seen the experiment being performed or completed it themselves, they will have the necessary mental images to understand the scientific principles involved when they encounter them in a text. Remember that comprehension is higher when reading is done silently, rather than reading aloud. Secondary students need to spend little, if any, time reading aloud in class except when reading poetry, plays, or choral reading. Students may also read a portion of the text aloud to justify an answer to a question or read privately to a literacy coach or a special education teacher to improve fluency. Always give students a specific purpose for reading the assignment. It will not be enough to say, Read this so that we can discuss it later. Be more specific. Give them a list of questions to guide their reading. This will not only increase their comprehension of the text related to those specific questions but will also help students answer other questions as well. Ask students to predict what will be in the text. This can be done at the beginning of the reading assignment or during the stopping points when students are discussing what they have read. Remember that teaching a concept or a skill to someone is an effective way to retain information. Consequently, students should be provided ample opportunity to teach the information they have read to others. Reread the text each year with the current students in mind. Read the information through the eyes of the students, and try to

anticipate where they will have the most difficulty. Understanding where students may be frustrated with the reading assignment will help guide lesson planning.

Do not expect students to take notes in class unless they have been taught a research-based method for doing so. Many secondary school teachers assume that students have been taught how to take notes. Even if they have been taught note-taking skills, they may not be proficient. If taking notes is important to the successful understanding of course content, students should be taught how to do so in a manner that facilitates their understanding and learning. n Do not assume that secondary students understand how to use text structure to support their learning. Many teachers believe that students know how to use text structures, but many students do not. With each reading assignment, the teacher should discuss the text structure and how it can assist in the understanding of difficult reading material. Using text structures is a skill that needs direct instructioneven at the secondary level. n Do not let students attitudes about reading be a deterrent. Many will resist assignments that involve texts, but educators must remember that reading should be practiced frequently. As with most skills, without frequent practice, proficiency and efficiency will be reduced.

Reading on Grade Level

Even with my knowledge of literacy, I am reluctant to unequivocally define what it means to read on grade level. In fact, my own reading ability varies depending upon what I might be reading. Given a book on literacy, I can successfully read at the university level. Give me a book on the topic of nuclear physics, and I need something written at approximately the sixth- or seventh-grade reading level. Why? My lack of preexisting knowledge on the topic has


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a detrimental effect on my ability to understand and remember the content. Does this mean Im a remedial reader? I dont know; I suppose that depends upon ones definition of remedial. What I do know is that the background knowledge anyone brings to the task of reading will have a significant impact on his or her comprehension. If the preliminary discussion with students indicates that they have a significant lack of previous knowledge, they will not be ready to successfully interact with text, and lesson plans may need modification.

The purpose of swimming is to travel safely through water; the purpose of reading is to construct meaning. Both skills require perseverance from the student and patience from the teacher. Not having the necessary swim-

ming skills may result in tragic consequences. Not having the ability to read and understand textalthough probably not fatalwill most certainly have a negative effect on a persons self-esteem, career options, and overall quality of life. Teachers and administrators cannot leave any student unassisted until they are confident that the student is ready to read successfully without assistance. They must continue to adjust and respond to students needs. If that means teaching and supporting reading in all content areas throughout the K12 experience, then that is exactly what it means. Teachers and administrators know what needs to be done, and they know how to do it. No more excuses. PL
Judy Brunner is a former high school principal and is the founder of Instructional Solutions Group.

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Principal Leadership