Teach the Core and Kick it up a Notch:
Instructional Routines to Support
Struggling Readers in the Primary
Classroom
Carolyn Denton, Ph.D.
University of Texas Health Science Center Houston
Children Do NOT Outgrow Reading
Difficulties
A child who is a poor reader at the end of first grade has an
almost 90% chance of remaining a poor reader at the end of
Grade 4 (Juel, 1988) and at least a 75% chance of being a
poor reader at the end of Grade 12 (Francis et al., 1995)
….unless we provide quality intervention!
Critical Understanding Related to
Preventing and Remediating
Reading Difficulties:
The Power of
Instruction!
The typical school approach to
students with reading difficulties
assumes that the problem is “within
the student” and that this is a finite
condition.
Reading failure is caused by the
interaction between features of
instruction, the materials used, the
child’s environment, and student
characteristics.
Classroom Reading Instruction Has
a Large Impact!
Primary Intervention
The Good News
• Classroom reading instruction that includes
explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
and the alphabetic principle in a print-rich
environment can help most at-risk readers
achieve success
• 75% of the lowest-performing 20% of first
graders met standards with quality
classroom instruction alone
(Foorman et al., 1998)
Teach the Core
• Adopt an evidence-based core reading program
• Assure teachers have sufficient professional
development and ongoing support to implement the
program confidently and correctly
• Assure 90 minutes of daily uninterrupted reading
instruction
• Provide time and opportunities for teachers to
collaborate and problem-solve
• Administer screening and progress monitoring
assessments
Kick it up a notch!
• One size does not fit all!
• Accommodations to access content
• Adaptations necessary to make progress in
individual reading outcomes
• Intensive Intervention: Some students need
extra small group intervention in addition to
quality classroom instruction
Accommodations
• Allow students with academic difficulties and
disabilities “equal access” to education
• Important for accessing content area text
• “Buddy” readers, tape recorded text, extra
time, oral tests, shortened assignments, etc.
• Often found in IEPs
• Are humane, educationally
necessary, and often required by law
Accommodations are Not Enough!
• Access alone is not sufficient.
• Students need instruction if the goal is to
close the gap with normally-developing peers!
Keep in Mind…
Students who are performing below grade
level will only close the gap with their
classmates if they learn FASTER than other
students.
More Instruction
Efficient Instruction
More Practice
Adaptation Framework
Skills and
concepts
that are the
focus of
teaching and
Learning
(Objectives)
Procedures
and
routines
used
to
implement
instructional
activities
Instructional Instructional
Content
Activities
Delivery of
Instruction
Materials
Lessons
used to
teach and
reinforce
skills
and
concepts
Materials
that are
used to
teach
and
reinforce
skills and
concepts
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Effective Instruction of Students with
Reading Difficulties
1.
2.
3.
4.
Teach the essentials
Targeted, differentiated instruction
Increase instructional intensity
Provide explicit instruction with lots of
practice
5. Provide systematic instruction
6. Closely monitor progress
7. Believe in the child
Adaptation Framework
Skills and
concepts
that are the
focus of
teaching and
Learning
(Objectives)
Instructional
Content
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Consensus Reports Based on Scientific
Reading Research
• Instruction can prevent reading difficulties
• Integration of
– Explicit alphabetic instruction
– Reading for meaning
– Active engagement
Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998;
National Reading Panel, 2000
Teach the Essentials: Critical Content
(Changes in nature across the grades.)
Oral Language, Vocabulary (pre k -12)
Phonological Awareness(pre k-1)
Phonological Decoding (k-3)
Word Study of Increasing Complexity (K-12)
Fluency Development (k-12)
Strategic Approach to Comprehension (pre k-12)
Linking Reading, Spelling, Writing (k-12)
Most poor readers of all ages have
weaknesses in phonological processing and
in accurate and fluent word recognition.
Compensatory strategies of choice:
• Guessing, sometimes based on context and/or a few
letters
• Skipping text when reading silently
A Middle School Student with
Reading Difficulties
“Sometimes when students in my class read,
they might know how to say simple words
okay, but they will skip over the big words.
They look around to see if anyone is even
listening to them. But they don’t fix them; they
just keep going. They stumble over words,
trying to sound them out. Sometimes they
don’t even know they made a mistake, and
when they finally figure out the words, they
don’t have a clue what it all means. They just
keep going.”
McCray, Vaughn, & Neal, 2001
Phonemic Awareness
• The understanding that speech is composed of a
sequence of sounds (phonemes) that are
recombined to form other words.
• The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the
sounds of speech
• Key Skill – Segment words into phonemes, and
blend them back into words.
Fish = /fff/iii/shshsh/ = fish
Why teach phonics and
word study?
English has:
• 40+ phonemes
• about 250 ways of writing them
• Example: a_e, ai, ay, eigh
•Thousands of words!
Comprehension problems OFTEN stem
from decoding problems.
Accurate and fluent decoding is
necessary but not sufficient for
comprehension.
Targeted Instruction
• Assessments guide instructional
decisions.
• Find out what they know and what
they need to learn.
• Teach them what they need to
learn.
• This means differentiated
instruction.
Diagnostic Assessment to Guide
Instruction
Comprehension
Fluency
Phonics/Decoding
Grades
K-1 (2)
Phonemic Awareness
Grades 3 +
Instruction must be appropriate for the needs of the
reader:
• Very poor readers (and young readers) need work in
the ability to manipulate speech sounds (phonemic
awareness) and decoding (phonics)
• Students who can decode accurately but read slowly
and with difficulty need instruction in fluency
• Students who do not know the meanings of words
they read and can’t derive word meanings from
context need vocabulary instruction
• Students who can’t remember or make connections
with what they read (or what is read to them) need
comprehension strategy instruction
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Adaptation Framework
Procedures
and
routines
used
to
implement
instructional
activities
Delivery of
Instruction
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Effective Instruction of Students with
Reading Difficulties and Disabilities
1.
2.
3.
4.
Teach the essentials
Targeted, differentiated instruction
Increase instructional intensity
Provide explicit instruction with lots
of practice
5. Provide systematic instruction
6. Closely monitor progress
7. Believe in the child
Increasing Instructional Intensity
Teachers with the best results use different grouping
patterns to address different instructional needs.
– Whole Group (Objectives needed by all or nearly
all students, with active involvement)
– Small Group (For targeted instruction, Supported
oral reading)
– Peer Pairing (Partner Reading; Peer Assisted
Learning Strategies; Rotation through work
stations in pairs)
– Cooperative Projects
Increasing Instructional Intensity
The more impaired the reader, the higher
intensity instruction they need!
• Smaller groups (1:3)
• More frequent; longer duration
• Increased active involvement in purposeful
reading activities
• More practice, including carefully planned
cumulative practice
Increasing Instructional Intensity
• Minimum teacher talk; little or no “down
time”
• Active engagement of students in reading,
writing, hands-on activities (very little time
just listening)
• “Perky Pacing”
• A challenge: Audiotape a lesson
Explicit Instruction
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Purposeful planning
Model and teach clearly
Provide multiple examples (and nonexamples)
Guided practice with clear feedback, specific
praise, and scaffolding
Independent practice
Cumulative practice
Continuous assessment
Repeat as necessary
Students who are easily confused
are more likely to be successful.
Use 3-step teaching process:
• DEMONSTRATION/MODEL
“I do it”
• GUIDED PRACTICE
“We do it”
• INDEPENDENT PRACTICE
“You do it”
Teaching Letter-Sounds
• Refer to a letter-sound assessment
• Teach only 2-3 new letter-sounds a week.
• Make words and teach sounding out as
soon as students know 2 or 3 letter-sounds.
• Provide lots of practice in different formats.
• Order of introducing letters: Don’t teach
confusing letters back-to-back! (separate b
and d; m and n; i and e; p and q)
Use 3-step teaching process:
• DEMONSTRATION/MODEL
“I do it” The sound of this letter is
___.
• GUIDED PRACTICE
“We do it” Do it with me.
What’s
the sound of this letter?
• INDEPENDENT PRACTICE
“You do it” Your turn.
sound of this letter?
What’s the
Teaching Sounding-Out
• Model for students what to do when they come to a
“hard” word:
– Use only regular words--not was or come
– Say sound slowly, stretch the word
– Move finger quickly under word, read the word fast
– Use a picture of a slide to teach the concept
• Guided Practice and Monitored Independent Practice
• Provide many opportunities to apply the strategy
when reading text.
• Model and reteach as many times as needed.
Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive Reading
Instruction, published by Sopris West
Three-Step Strategy for
Reading Words
• Look for parts you know.
• Sound it out.
• Check it.
Discourage the habit of guessing words!
Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive Reading
Instruction, published by Sopris West
Teaching the Word Identification
Strategy
When a student comes to an unknown
word:
– Prompt or model the strategy.
– Write the word on a white board and
demonstrate using the strategy.
– Praise the student for applying the
strategy.
Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive Reading
Instruction, published by Sopris West
The Importance of Practice
 Provide lots of opportunities
for practice.
 Students need extended
practice over time.
 Cumulative practice is
essential.
What is practiced becomes
a habit.
Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive Reading
Instruction, published by Sopris West
Positive Feedback and Scaffolding
 Try to provide positive feedback more often than
corrections
 Avoid phony praise.
 Give specific praise.
 Praise good attempts and partially correct responses.
 Provide scaffolding
– Hints/prompts
– Supply partial information
– Break tasks into smaller parts
From Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive
Reading Instruction, published by Sopris West
Corrective Feedback
Students need to know when
they’ve made mistakes.
Provide feedback in a
neutral tone.
Don’t let them practice their
mistakes!
To provide corrective feedback:
Just repeat the 3 steps!
Demonstrate: “I do it”
Guided practice: “We do it”
Independent practice: “You do it”
Systematic Instruction
•
•
•
•
•
•
Well-planned, purposeful sequencing
Scope and sequence
Easier to harder skills; separate confusions
Control how much new information is introduced
at a time
Keep track of what has been mastered
Don’t leave “holes”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, there’s a good
chance you won’t get there.”
Continuum of Phonological Awareness
Skill Difficulty
Rhyme (pre k – k)
Blending and segmenting compound words (pre k – k)
Blending and segmenting syllables (pre k – k)
Onset-rime blending (pre k – k)
Onset-rime segmentation (pre k – k)
Sound isolation (First - last) (k – 1)
Phoneme blending (k – 1)
Phoneme segmentation (k – 1)
Phoneme elision/manipulation (1-2)
Adaptation Framework
Instructional
Activities
Lessons
used to
teach and
reinforce
skills
and
concepts
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Phoneme Blending and Segmentation
• Blending: Putting phonemes back
together to say words
I’m going to say a word one sound at a time.
/s/ /u/ /n/ What’s my word: (sun)
• Segmenting: Saying the sounds in
words separately
Say the sounds in sun.
– Easier: connected; Harder: separated
– Use objects or movements as scaffolding
Stretching Words
• DEMONSTRATION/MODEL
“I do it” “My turn.”
Listen. I’m going to say the sounds in man.
Mmmmaaaannnn.
• GUIDED PRACTICE
“We do it” Do it with me. Say the sounds in
man.
• INDEPENDENT PRACTICE
“You do it” Your turn. Say the sounds in man.
Joey, say the sounds in man. Anna, say the
sounds in man.
From Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive
Reading Instruction, published by Sopris West
Planning Guide: Responsive
Reading Instruction
Planning Guide (pg. 311)
I have a student who:
Try this Activity
Page
Reads the first part of the word and
guesses the rest
Modeling the Word Identification
Strategy
Teaching Word Identification Using
the Strategy
272
Reads one word at a time in a
mechanical way
Reading Phrases
Repeated Reading with a model
38
41
Reads very slowly
Reading Phrases
Repeated Reading with a model
Partner Reading
38
41
43
Looks at me to find out if they are correct
when they try to read a difficult word
Teaching Sounding out
The Point Game
The Silly Word Game
Sound Boxes (With Print)
Teaching Students to Read Words
145
152
154
147
265
272
From Denton & Hocker (2006). Responsive Reading
Instruction, published by Sopris West
Adaptation Framework
Materials
Materials
that are
used to
teach
and
reinforce
skills and
concepts
© University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts, 2003;
All rights reserved; Do not reproduce without written permission
Apply Skills and Strategies in Meaningful
Reading and Writing with Teacher Support and
Feedback
Promoting Reading Progress:
Instructional Level Text
Remember the 1-10 rule!
If the student misses more than 1 out of every 10
words, the text is too hard for reading
instruction!
Setting Students Up for Success
Focus on increasing the number of correct
student responses.
•
•
•
•
Provide modeling, guided and independent practice
Provide scaffolding and re-teach when needed
Provide corrective and positive feedback
Always have your white board handy to model reading or
writing a word using effective strategies
• Provide teacher-supported oral reading in appropriate
text
• Remember that students must master key objectives and
be able to automatically apply effective strategies. Teach
them to be independent!
A Sense of Urgency
“If (there is) a very at-risk child, …we adjust
the schedule of the child. If he needs extra
help, that next day he will have a reading
specialist work with him. If that’s not enough,
then we have tutorials, and another teacher
will work with him. We’ve built all of these
safety nets to protect children who are at-risk.
A child who is very at-risk will have a
schedule that is very different from other
students.”
…A school principal in Denton, Foorman, & Mathes (2003)
Believe in the Child…
Research shows that,
with appropriate
instruction, nearly all
students, including those
from low-income
backgrounds and those
with mild disabilities, can
become competent
readers.
Teacher expectations
are POWERFUL!
Believe in the
Child…
Set students up
for success,
teach them
what they need
to learn
…and expect
them to be
successful.
References
• Denton, C.A., & Hocker, J.K. (2006). Responsive Reading Instruction:
Flexible Intervention for Struggling Readers in the Early Grades (Book and
DVD). Longmont, CO: Sopris West. www.sopriswest.com
• Foorman, B.R., Francis, D.J., Fletcher, J.M., Schatschneider, C., Mehta, P.
(1998). The role of instruction in learning to read: Preventing reading
failure in at-risk-children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 38-55.
• Hasbrouck, J. (2006). Quick phonics screener. St. Paul, MN: Read Naturally.
• McCray, A. D., Vaughn, S., & Neal, L. I. (2001). Not all students learn to
read by third grade: Middle school students speak out about their reading
disabilities. Journal of Special Education, 35, 17-30.
• National Reading Panel (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidencebased assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its
implications for reading instruction. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government
Printing Office.
• Snow, C. E., Burns, M. S., & Griffin, P. (Eds.) (1998). Preventing reading
difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Carolyn Denton, Ph.D.
[email protected]
http://cli.uth.tmc.edu
www.texasreading.org
http://www.centeroninstruction.org
http://www.texasldcenter.org/
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