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Fitzpatrick, Gunzehauser and Taylor (2007) define struggling readers as categories of students who have difficulties in comprehension and lack word accuracy. On the other hand, non struggling readers are categories of students who master language comprehension well and have word accuracy.
It is always a challenge to educate struggling readers, and therefore, teachers should make it as a continuous struggle. However, teachers should not neglect non struggling readers because they also need continued knowledge acquisition in comprehensions. Teachers should always find a balance in teaching students of various understanding capacities.
In a research involving 22 pre-service teachers, it was discovered that the best way to teach all kinds of students especially in comprehension is to involve the professional knowledge, practical and personal inputs of the teachers (Duffy & Atkinson, Feb 2001). Tutoring the struggling readers was also discovered as a way of putting them into leverage with those who could read well.
According to Duffy & Atkinson (Feb2010), the use of three measures is important because they help put all students at a level. If the students are to be taught using same methods, the struggling readers may not catch up. Guthrie and Davis (Nov, 2010) introduces three most important methods of teaching struggling students as; using real world form of teaching, encouraging collaborations between able readers and struggling ones, and giving direct instructions for crucial reading strategies.
Using real world teaching
This is to correlate what is in the text and what is in the real world. For example, giving the struggling learners a pictorial mind may help them visualize what is being taught. In comprehension and text reading, the teacher should describe the actions in the text and relate to something known. For instance, describing how a child walks or the way a mother cooks.
Encouraging collaboration between struggling and non struggling
Students understand each other better. If struggling readers could be assisted by non struggling readers, it is possible for the struggling readers to catch up. For example, in reading a text, a struggling student would be more willing to be assisted by a non struggling student more than the teacher. This is because they can understand each other better.
Giving direct instructions for crucial reading strategies
Learners understand something better if the instructions are clear and direct. While teaching or directing students to read comprehension text, the teacher should simply any difficult words for the learners. Especially for the struggling learners, the teacher should always substitute complex words with simple words. Even when giving some reading strategies, they should always be simple and easy to understand.
Determining reading levels of learners
According to Rog (2003), a teacher can determine various reading levels of the learners by use of different strategies. Some reading strategies are best suited for high skilled readers; others are for those who require lots of practicing while others are for those who need re-teaching.
The teachers can also use differentiated complexity of reading materials to differentiate. For example, use of cards for birthdays, success, wish well cards and letters can help assess the reading levels of the learners. Also, they can be differentiated by the speed of reading.
Pressley (2006) writes that skilled readers are able to read 200-300 words in a minute. They can easily recognize various words and do not need a lot of practicing to understand a complex word.
When they understand a word, they do not forget easily. Non skilled readers especially those who require a lot of practicing can read from 100-300 words and assistance of the teacher is needed. They recognize some words after a lot of practicing on their own or by assistance of the teacher.
They are prone to forget a word even after practicing. The readers who require a lot of teaching and re-teaching are slow readers, and in minute, they can only cover 50-100 words. They do not recognize words easily and have to be taught again before they can understand. These readers may forget words even after re-teaching and that is why they require simple and direct instructions.
Duffy, A. M & Atkinson, T. S. (Feb, 2010). “Learning to teach struggling (and non-struggling) elementary school readers: An analysis of pre-service teachers’ knowledge.” Journal of Reading Research and Instruction, 41(1), 83-102
Fitzpatrick, J., Guzenhauser, K. & Taylor, J. (2007). “Strategies for struggling readers”, Grades 3-5. Huntington: Creative Teaching Press.
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Guthrie, J. T. & Davis, M. H. (Nov, 2010). “Motivating struggling readers in middle school through an engagement model of classroom practice.” Journal of Reading and Writing Quarterly, 19(1), 59-85.
Pressley, M. (2006). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York: Guilford Press, Inc.
Rog, L. J. (2003). “Guided reading basics: Organizing, managing and implementing a balanced literacy program in K-3”. Ontario: Pembroke Publishers, Inc.