Effective English-language arts teachers teach both content and process. It’s a demanding job, but ELA teachers bear the primary burden of teaching not only the what of reading, but also the how of reading. Reading instruction begins, but does not end, in the elementary classroom. Secondary ELA teachers teach the advanced reading skills that are so critical to success in academia and in the workplace.
Most ELA teachers are quite prepared to teach the reading and writing content of their courses. Their undergraduate and graduate courses reflect this preparation. However, most ELA teachers are ill-prepared to teach reading strategies. Most credential programs require only one or two reading strategy courses.
Following are articles, free resources (including reading assessments), and teaching tips regarding how to teach reading in the ELA classroom from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.
Free Whole Class Diagnostic ELA/Reading Assessments
Download free phonemic awareness, vowel sound phonics, consonant sound phonics, sight word, rimes, sight syllables, fluency, grammar, mechanics, and spelling assessments. All with answers and recording matrices. A true gold mine for the teacher committed to differentiated instruction!
The Problem with Dialectical Journals
Dialectical journals have been teacher favorites since literature-based reading pedagogy was popularized in the 1980s. However, this reader-centered instruction creates more problems than it solves. In lieu of dialectical journals, teachers should help students learn and apply the five types of independent reading strategies that promote internal monitoring of the text.
How to Teach Main Idea
Finding the main idea is a basic reading comprehension skill. However, basic does not mean easy. Main idea questions are found on every normed reading comprehension assessment and are the most frequently asked types of questions on the passage-based reading questions of the SAT®. Following are a workable definition, some important disclaimers, and a few critical strategies which will make sense out of this sometimes challenging task for readers of all ages.
To Read or Not to Read: That is the Question
When we teach a novel or short story, how much of our instruction should be teacher-dependent and how much should be teacher-independent? My thought is that we English-language arts teachers tend to err too frequently on the side of teacher-dependence and we need to move more to the side of teacher-independence.
Learning to Read and Reading to Learn
The predominant educational philosophy in American schools can be summarized as this: Learn the skills of literacy in K-6 and apply these skills to learn academic content in 7-12. In other words, learning to read should transition to reading to learn. This pedagogical philosophy has clearly failed our students. We need to re-orient to a learning to read focus for all K-12 students.
Into, Through, but Not Beyond
English-language arts teachers and reading experts certainly agree that “into” activities help facilitate optimal comprehension. Additionally, teachers need to use “through” activities to assist students in reading “between the lines.” However, at the “beyond” stage many English-language arts teachers and reading experts will part ways.
How to Increase Reading Comprehension Using the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies
Research shows that the best readers interact with the text as they read. This is a skill that can be effectively taught by using the SCRIPS comprehension strategies. These strategies will help improve reading comprehension and retention. With practice, students will self-prompt with these five strategies and read well independently.
How to Use Think-Alouds to Teach Reading Comprehension
Developing an internal dialogue is critical to self-monitoring and improving reading comprehension. This is a skill that can be effectively taught by using the Think-Aloud strategy. This article shares the best strategies to teach students to develop an internal dialogue with the text.
How to Read Textbooks with PQ RAR
Many teachers remember learning the SQ3R reading-study method. This article provides an updated reading-study method based upon recent reading research. Learn how to read and study at the same time with this expository reading-study method.
The Top Ten Inference Tips
Many readers have difficulty understanding what an author implies. Knowing the common inference categories can clue readers into the meaning of difficult reading text.
How to Determine Reading Levels
Degrees of Reading Power (DRP,) Fleish-Kincaid, Lexiles, Accelerated Reader ATOS, Reading Recovery Levels, Fry’s Readability, John’s Basic Reading Inventory, Standardized test data. Each of these measures quantifies student reading levels and purports to offer guidance regarding how to match reader to text. For the purposes of this article, we will limit discussion to why these approaches do not work and what does work to match reader to text for independent reading. The answers? Motivation and word recognition.
Five Tips To Increase Silent Reading Speed and Improve Reading Comprehension
Increasing reading speed will improve your productivity and allow you to read more. More importantly, increasing reading speed will significantly improve reading comprehension and retention. Want to plow through textbooks, articles, or manuals quickly and effectively? Want to understand and remember more of what you read? This article will help.
Good Reading Fluency, but Poor Reading Comprehension
Teachers and parents see it more and more: good reading fluency, but poor reading comprehension. Repeated reading practice to build fluency needs to be balanced with meaningful oral expression and internal self-monitoring comprehension strategies.
Why Elementary Reading Instruction is Reductive
A growing trend with Response to Intervention models is to expand the reading block to more than two hours per day. Elementary reading is reductive. More time allocated for reading means less time for social studies, science, arts, and writing. This isn’t the answer. Instead, we need more efficient elementary reading instruction, based upon effective and flexible diagnostic formative assessments, and more content-area and writing instruction at the K-6 levels.
Why Advanced Reading Skills are Increasingly Important
Without refined reading skills, personal independence and options are severely limited. What was an adequate reading skill level thirty years ago is inadequate today. More higher level high school and college reading courses are needed to appropriately prepare students for the information age.
Content vs. Skills Reading Instruction
A key discussion point regarding reading instruction today involves those favoring skills-based instruction and those favoring content-based instruction. The debate is not either-or, but the author leans toward the skills side because students of all ages need the advanced reading skills to facilitate independent meaning-making of text.
How to Use Context Clues to Improve Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary
Learning how to use context clues to figure out the meaning of unknown words is an essential reading strategy and vocabulary-builder. Learning how to identify context clue categories will assist readers in figuring out unknown words. This article provides a step-by-step strategy to apply these categories and more efficiently use context clues.
How Not to Teach Context Clues
Most teachers are familiar with and teach context clues as an important reading strategy to define unknown words; however, fewer teachers are familiar with the debate over context clues as a reading strategy for word identification. Using context clues for word identification is an inefficient guessing game.
Why Round Robin and Popcorn Reading are Evil
Round robin and popcorn reading are the staples of reading instruction in many teacher classrooms. However, these instructional strategies have more drawbacks than benefits.
How to Teach Reading Comprehension
Teachers struggle with how to teach reading comprehension. The implicit-instruction teachers hope that reading a lot really will teach comprehension through some form of osmosis. The explicit-instruction teachers teach the skills that can be quantified, but ignore meaning-making as the true purpose of reading. Here are the research-based strategies that will help teachers teach reading comprehension and promote independent reading.
How to Improve Reading Comprehension with Self-Questioning
Everyone knows that to get the right answers you need to ask the right questions. Asking questions about the text as you read significantly improves reading comprehension. “Talking to the text” improves concentration and helps the reader interact with the author. Reading becomes a two-way active process, not a one-way passive activity…
Dick and Jane Revisit the Reading Wars
The whole word Cambridge University “Reading Test” hoax actually points to the fact that readers really do look at all of the letters and apply the alphabetic code to read efficiently. Remedial readers, in particular, need systematic phonics instruction to enable them to read with automaticity and attend to the meaning of the text.
The Dark Side of the KWL Reading Strategy
Response journals, such as the KWL reading strategy, are good note-taking vehicles and serve nicely to hold students accountable for what they read, but internal monitoring and self-questioning strategies can teach readers to understand the author’s ideas better. KWL and the like are reader-centered, not text-centered.
How and Why to Teach Fluency
Knowing why and how to teach reading fluency is of critical importance to developing readers. Learn four strategies to help students improve reading fluency.
How to Differentiate Reading Fluency Practice
There is no doubt that repeated reading practice does improve reading fluency. And proficient fluency is highly correlated with proficient reading comprehension. However, practicing repetitive reading passages with one-size fits all fluency recordings does not meet the diverse needs of students. This article details how to truly differentiate reading fluency practice.
Interactive Reading-Making a Movie in Your Head
Why does everyone understand movies better than reading? By using the interactive strategies that we naturally apply at the movies, we can increase our reading comprehension.
How to Get Rid of Bad Reading Habits
Getting rid of bad reading habits that interfere with reading comprehension and reading speed are essential. Improve your concentration, reading posture, attention span, and reading attitude and increase your understanding and enjoyment of what you read.
Eye Movement and Speed Reading
Recent reading research has found that better readers have less eye fixations per line than poor readers. Multiple eye fixations also slow down reading speed. Speed reading techniques can help readers re-train their eye fixations and so improve comprehension.
How to Skim for Main Ideas
Not every text should be read the same way. Good readers vary their reading rates and control their levels of comprehension. Learning how to skim is a very useful reading skill. This article teaches how to skim textbooks, articles, and manuals and still maintain reasonable comprehension.
How to Scan for Main Ideas
Not every text should be read the same way. Good readers vary their reading rates and control their levels of comprehension. Learning how to scan is a very useful reading skill. This article teaches how to scan textbooks, articles, and manuals and still maintain reasonable comprehension.
More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog
Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading
Teaching Reading Strategies
abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activities, phonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.
Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.
Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.