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Chapter 1 William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Develop a Good Elementary Reading Program

Reading is the golden key to unlock doors. A childs success in life is often determined by his or her ability to read. Since the primary years build the foundation upon which a childs education rests, developing an effective reading program is a prime responsibility of the elementary teacher. Research tells us that school dropouts become disenchanted, fed-up, utterly disgusted, and discouraged in school because they cannot read adequately. This is a fact! but a fact of which elementary educators are not proud. Is there hope? Yes! Numerous school systems now employ full-time specialists in reading instruction and many schools have their own reading specialist. Is this the answer? No, it is not! The answer lies in the elementary school classroom. Students must successfully learn to read at this level in order for school systems to avoid the additional expense of hiring reading specialists at the middle, junior high, and secondary levels. Being actively involved in the selection of new programs leads to active involvement in the total reading program when it becomes operational. Teachers must investigate different types of reading programs and evaluate them in terms of strengths, weaknesses, advantages, and disadvantages. Articles evaluating various reading programs are continually being published. Consulting these articles may help in deciding which reading program best answers class needs. This information can also be obtained through the local newspaper, educational bulletins, libraries, or magazines. When a program appears to be suitable, discuss it with the school principal, colleagues, and reading specialists. Have a qualified representative demonstrate the particular reading program or visit a school where it is currently being used. This affords the opportunity to actually see the program working, as well as to discuss its strengths and weaknesses with knowledgeable representatives or with teachers who are already using it. Be familiar with new approaches that improve reading instruction for students. Various individualized reading programs must be studied. Be cognizant of the reading

skills taught in these individualized programs and examine the basic textbooks being used. When evaluating a program, remember to consider the vocabulary builders and interest- catching factors of the total individualized reading program. The atmosphere created in classrooms must radiate that reading is a major activity. Book clubs, posters, pageants, fairs, plays, computer fairs, book reports, and book displays help to strengthen the classrooms reading program. Respect students ideas concerning reading by allowing and encouraging them to experiment. A teachers primary function within the classroom is to help students realize their potential and attain the highest-level possible. If elementary teachers are constantly watchful for the slightest improvement in reading and express appreciation to their students, reading will become an enjoyable and happy part of the school day for the pupil. Children lack many reading skills and depend upon their teacher to teach them. All students must eventually master skills in phonics, note taking, outlining, map interpretation, detail reading, oral reading, auditory and visual discrimination, spelling, word recognition and word analysis, reading rate, information pinpointing, reading critically, vocabulary, comprehension skills, and many others. Teachers must have a thorough understanding of which reading skills are vital to each particular grade level. They must be familiar with the reading skills children encountered during the preceding year, as well as those that will be required in successive elementary grades. Armed with this knowledge, detailed instructional plans can be designed for teaching these basic reading skills. Flexibility in reading is another area of concern. Children must be guided so they can read a wide variety of materials, including textbooks. When reading textbooks, they must be taught to recognize important concepts, ideas, and facts along with other essential illustrations. Practically all reading is done for a specific purpose, whether for enjoyment or for academic reasons. Regardless of the purpose, classroom discussions offer children opportunities to develop and master special vocabulary areas. A teacher must be aware of each students reading strengths and limitations.

child must not be expected to read material beyond his or her ability. Many children experience frustration and failure in reading because they attempt to read material that is too difficult for them. One method of discovering a childs reading ability is to have the child read, then just at the moment the child begins to have difficulty, stop him. In the next reading period begin at this point. Tape recording students as they read helps in oral reading. When the tape is played back for the students, they often realize their mistakes, while at the same time increasing reading comprehension. Reading groups can be an effective tool if properly organized. Students in poorly planned groups quickly become disinterested. Children who cannot read competently should be grouped in small numbers. The small reading group affords the teacher more time to work with individuals. A total reading program offers ways of bringing the class together as one unit. Reading clubs, library clubs, a week for reading special books, and storytelling all keep the reading program alive, exciting, exhilarating, stimulating, meaningful, and full of enthusiasm! Reading instruction seems to be more enjoyable in the morning, although many students prefer to read in the afternoon. It is recommended that primary students read in the morning, whereas intermediate youngsters read either in the morning or afternoon. Each teacher must decide when to have a formal reading. Scheduling two reading periods - one for the children who want to read in the morning and one for others who prefer to read in the afternoon-often solves the dilemma. Some parents are interested in reading and would welcome the opportunity to come to the classroom to assist in reading programs. Listening to children read aloud is only one of a number of ways parents can help. Many retired persons enjoy listening, reading, and telling stories to children and are available to help. When the teacher thinks his reading program is successful, he may want to set up a reading center to challenge readers of all levels. A computer, films, tapes, and other materials should be included in the reading center. Books for extension reading are excellent, as are corrective readers. Paperback books pack interest for the reader. Vocabulary cards, phonetic flash -cards and phonetic charts, sets of

supplementary readers, along with other audio-visual materials help establish an effective reading center, as do word cards, books for general reading, picture cards, reading texts, and manuals for basic textbooks. Children with special reading problems present educational challenges. Eye charts, pacers, and controlled readers are excellent tools for helping these children overcome their reading problems. A Tachistoscope and Opthalemograph prove most effective with assisting to alleviate remedial problems. Many of todays children are victims of stressful environments. Some from singleparent homes are tasked with responsibilities beyond their years; some suffer at the hands of abusive parents. Such emotional problems severely hamper a childs reading ability. Poor health, physical drawbacks, and other circumstances also play a vital role in determining a childs ability to comprehend the printed word. Such problems must be discovered and addressed before growth and enjoyment in reading becomes manifested. Finding a solution is a difficult task requiring hard work, and too often, this never-ending battle is neglected. A Thought in Words If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. Franklin