Literacy Topics Research Questions
Literacy Topic: Effective Instructional Interventions for Struggling Readers
Question #1: What lack of skills cause a student to become a struggling reader?
Response to question #1:
Through my research I have determined that no one child is alike. All students that enter our classrooms come in with a different level of skills. These varying skills come with a variety of deficits. It is our job as educators to assess our students to determine their areas of need. As an educator in a classroom with a variety of abilities and a many students who struggle with reading, are there specific patterns to look for in struggling readers that can help me guide their instruction?
According to Spear-Swerling (2016), “The three common patterns (often termed profiles) of poor reading involve specific word-reading difficulties (SWRD), specific reading comprehension difficulties (SRCD), and mixed reading difficulties (MRD)” (p.513-5145). Children with SWRD have difficulty reading words and not in the areas of comprehension. Students with SCRD find struggles with comprehension and have a decent skillset in reading words. The Students with MRD have difficulties in both reading comprehension and word reading. It is helpful for educators to know these profiles to determine how to intervene. Utilizing these profiles allows us to categorize our students needs so that we can differentiate our instruction (Spear-Swerling, 2016).
I can pinpoint these profiles in my classroom amongst the struggling readers. For instance, one of my students has great recall skills when read to. However, he cannot decode a text independently. According to the research above I would refer to this student as having troubles in SWRD. I also find in my classroom if they lack the decoding skills their fluency falls short which then hinders their comprehension, being part of the MRD profile. The SRCD is , it is extremely difficult for them to recall information placing them in the SRCD profile.
Another study finds that there are two major word deficits in struggling readers; phonological/phonemic awareness and rapid name fluency (Vernon-Feagans, Kainz, Amendum, Ginsberg, Wood, Bock, 2012). In my classroom I have a lot of experience with students that lack in phonemic awareness and it tends to hinder their overall reading fluency. At the same time, I also see these students having a pretty decent skill set in comprehending what is read to them during read alouds. It is often found that students that come equipped with these deficits do not benefit as well as their peers from interventions (Vernon-Feagans, Kainz, Amendum, Ginsberg, Wood, Bock, 2012). I find this to be disheartening, although it drives my determination to push harder for these students.
In my findings I find there are definite commonalities among the skills students seem to lack when they struggle with reading. There are common patterns to help you recognize a deficit but the likely hood of all students fitting into these neat catagories, is unlikely. Through observation and assessment we can determine where are students are strong and where they will need some extra guidance.
Question #2: What are the most effective instructional interventions that will facilitate a student’s reading abilities?
Response to question #2:
Every year we receive a new set of students with new learning abilities. Once you get a handle on what your student’s strengths and weakness are you can then plan your instruction. In my classroom, I have many students with different reading skills, at times I find it hard to find strategies that are effective. I find myself becoming a sponge looking for what works and become frustrated when the students aren’t making progress. I rely on professional developments and learning from other teachers to hopefully find that answer. In this research, I want to know what are the most effective instructional interventions that will facilitate a student’s reading abilities?
According to, “Intensive Reading Interventions for struggling readers in Early Elementary School A Prinipal’s Guide”, There are certain characteristics of effective interventions. These include; providing interventions, as soon as, you determine a need, increase intensity of instruction, provide opportunities for direct and systemic instruction with practice and cumulative review to ensure mastery, provide immediate feedback to correct errors, interventions must be guided by and adjusted according to student data, and most importantly it must be motivating, supportive, and engaging (Torgesen, 2007,) What makes an intervention effective is when you take the time to get to know your students to determine their needs, provide practice along with immediate feedback, and check for mastery. I feel it is important to apply these strategies to ensure our students are learning what they need to learn and not practicing ineffective work habits. We need to be able to differentiate our instruction through smaller groups, extra time and attention on their needs, and check for understanding frequently. In doing so we can make the necessary adjustments to enhance student learning.
Stated by Vernon-Feagans, Kainz, Amendum, Ginsberg, Wood, and Bock (2012), The Targeted Reading Intervention tool has been proven to be effective for early learners, preschool through first grade. It entails 15-minute one-on-one interventions implemented by the teacher four times per week (Vernon-Feagans, L.I., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A., 2012). During these fifteen- minute sessions the teacher would focus on three areas of reading; Reading for Fluency, Word Work, and TRI Guided oral reading. During the reading for fluency time of two minutes, the teacher would have the student reread material previously read and time the student, chart progress, and model how to read fluently with expression (Vernon-Feagans, L.I., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A., 2012). The Word Work time of six minutes consisted of four basic word work strategies; Segmenting Words, Change One sound, Read, Write, and Say; and Pocket Phrases. Teachers were provided with diagnostic map to use daily as an assessment tool to determine the appropriate level of word work (Vernon-Feagans, L.I., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A., 2012). The Guided Oral Reading consisted of 7 minutes, in which teachers chose highly motivating books that included word work they have been working on. The teachers then scaffold the children in their decoding skills, ability to infer and predict, and answer questions about the text (Vernon-Feagans, L.I., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A., 2012).
As with most effective strategies, they are not always the one answer to meet the needs of every student. I believe that the Targeted Reading Intervention can be an effective model for classroom teachers. It includes a balanced approach of literacy focusing on phonics, fluency, and comprehension. However, the downfalls are providing all the students in need fifteen-minute, one-on-one instruction and getting the teacher training necessary for the program. Many times, I am faced with fifty percent or more of my students who are struggling readers. As a general education teacher, I would love the opportunity to meet with each student struggling individually however, I am not sure time would allot itself to meet the needs of all my students. The other downfall would be having my school buy into this program; teachers would need to be on board and the district would need to invest the time and money into the programs implementation.
According to Carr and Bertrando (2012), “There is a lesson plan framework that works in a diversified classroom of all ages and content area. This lesson plan framework is a balance of teacher-led instruction followed by, whole class instruction and student-led, small group activities involving investigation or experimentation, critical thinking, and a large dose of student-to-student discussion” (Carr, J., & Bertrando, S., 2012, p.24-25). There are ten recommended strategies and tools that are highly effective for English learners and students with learning disabilities; visuals, Think-Pair-Share, Cues, Think Aloud, KWL, Summarization, Enhanced word walls, Frayer Concept organizer, Sentence Frames, and Discussion starters (Carr, J., & Bertrando, S., 2012, p.25-26). I find many of these strategies beneficial for scaffolding struggling readers. Utilizing visuals such as graphic organizers to scaffold students in their reading. During my read aloud I often find it beneficial to model my thinking throughout a text so students can deepen their understanding of how a text works and how to clarify their comprehension of a text. I find that all of these strategies can be helpful to my classroom. Building an environment of active reading where we come together as a community to work and think together, I believe can be hugely beneficial. Students have the opportunities to learn from each other and through observation and discussions I can adjust or reteach where we may encounter struggles.
Finding the strategies to meet each student’s needs can be frustrating at times. I want all my students to succeed and build them up to be confident readers. In my research I find that there are so many strategies that are proven to be effective however, there is no one strategy to reach all of our student’s needs. Through assessing and getting to know our students we can determine what each student needs and determine which instructional strategies fits them best. I have learned new strategies and revisited strategies that I already utilize in my classroom. I have learned that the most effective learning strategies are the ones that push my students further and meet their needs in reading.
Question #3: How can I utilize these strategies effectively in my classroom to close the gap for my struggling readers in First Grade?
Response to question #3:
Carr, J., & Bertrando, S. (2012). Top 10 instructional strategies for struggling students. Leadership, 42(1), 24-38
Englert, C.S. (2009). Connecting the Dots in a Research Program to Develop, Implement, and Evaluate Strategic Literacy Interventions for Struggling Readers and Writers. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 24(2), 104-120.
Reynolds, M., Wheldall, K., & Madelaine, A. (2011). What Recent Reviews Tell Us About the Efficacy of Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers in the Early Years of Schooling. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 58(3), 257-286.
Solari, E. e., Denton, C.A., & Haring, C. (2017). How to Reach First-Grade Struggling Readers: An Integrated Instructional Approach, Teaching Exceptional Children, 49(3), 149-159.
Spear-Swerling, L. (2016). Common Types of Reading Problems and How to Help Children Who Have Them. Reading Teacher, 69(5), 513-522.
Torgesen, J. (2007). A Principal’s Guide to Intensive Reading Interventions for Struggling Readers in “Reading First” Schools. Florida Center For Reading Research, 1-6.c
Vernon-Feagans, L.I., Kainz, K., Amendum, S., Ginsberg, M., Wood, T., & Bock, A. (2012). Targeted Reading Intervention: A Coaching Model to Help Classroom Teachers With Struggling Readers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2), 102-114.