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“Expose Them to The Text: Helping Struggling Readers”

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“Expose Them to The Text: Helping Struggling Readers”. By: Franchesca Warren. Franchesca Warren. Taught ELA for 13 years in metro Atlanta area and Memphis City Schools Teacher of the Year for South Atlanta School of Law 2012-2013 school year

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franchesca warren
Franchesca Warren
  • Taught ELA for 13 years in metro Atlanta area and Memphis City Schools
  • Teacher of the Year for South Atlanta School of Law 2012-2013 school year
  • Wrote a book entitled, Behind the Desk: How I Survived My First Ten Years in Education
  • Has taught every ELA class offered: Ninth Grade Literature, World Literature, American Literature, British Literature, Multicultural Literature, Journalism, etc
national institute for literacy and the center for educational statistics
National Institute for Literacy and the Center for Educational Statistics
  • ______million adults in the U.S. are functionally illiterate.



  • About ____ percent of all 4th graders lack the most basic reading skills.
more hard data
More Hard Data..
  • Approximately six million of the nation’s secondary school students are reading well below grade level (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2002, 2003).
  • More than 3,000 students drop out of high school every day (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2003), and one of the most commonly cited reasons for the dropout rate is that students do not have the literacy skills to keep up with the curriculum (Kamil, 2003; Snow & Biancarosa, 2003).
  • Low literacy levels often prevent students from mastering other subjects (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2002). Poor readers struggle to learn in text-heavy courses and are frequently blocked from taking academically more challenging courses (Au, 2000).
data from my school
Data from my school
  • In my Ninth Grade Literature class, approximately half of my class read below a 4th grade level .
  • In my World Literature class, there was a mixture of special needs , ESL and struggling readers who were all reading below an middle school level.
  • So what do you do when your students are expected to read classics such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet”, to name a few?
so what does that mean
So what does that mean?
  • Students are struggling in reading complex texts we are tasked to having them read in the classroom.
  • So the question remains..
    • How can we expose students to the actual text, yet meet them on their reading level?
    • The answer is simple. Leveled Text
jabberwocky activity
“Jabberwocky” Activity
  • Using the poem “Jabberwocky” lets read this poem as a student and see if we can determine the meaning of this poem.
activity 1 debrief
Activity #1 --Debrief
  • What were some of the struggles you experienced?
  • How did those struggles make you feel?
  • Now think if you were a high school student, how would you display those frustrations?
so can we help students
So can we help students?
  • In our classrooms we’re mandated to have students read classics such as: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Things Fall Apart, Beowulf and a host of other complex text.
  • We must give students resources that will help guide them through the text.
  • Those resources are: leveled text, graphic organizers, vocabulary strategies, Spark Notes summaries, etc.
why use leveled text
Why Use Leveled Text?
  • Matches the students to books that are challenging enough for him/her to make progress
  • Gives students access to the content and allows them to stay abreast of the novel.
  • Doesn’t make the students feel defeated when they encounter difficult texts.
what should you do before you use leveled text
What should you do before you use leveled text?
  • When introducing a unit, give students a glimpse of the actual text.
  • For example, annotating and dissecting the prologue in “Romeo and Juliet” is a great tool to expose students to the text.
  • Give students text dependent questions, based on that excerpt to force students to engage in the text.
what should you do when you use a leveled text
What should you do when you use a leveled text?
  • Make sure that students always have a copy of the leveled text to refer to as they read.
  • If need be, make copies for students to annotate.
  • Allow students to read the leveled text FIRST before they delve into the actual text.
previewing vocabulary
Previewing Vocabulary
  • Preview difficult vocabulary.
  • Students need to know the words that may give them trouble at the beginning of the unit.
  • Use those words in class frequently.
  • Make those words come alive by engaging in activities that allow students to understand the word associations.
activity 2
Activity #2
  • Now lets further examine the text “Jabberwocky.”
    • Annotating the TEXT is KEY for STRUGGLING readers.
    • Identify the words students may not know in this poem.
    • Underline any words that they may recognize.
    • Circle any words that may contain symbolism.
how can you monitor understanding of the difficult text during reading
How can you monitor understanding of the difficult text during reading?
  • Use text dependent questions to engage students in the text.
  • Break down the questions so that they address all aspects(comprehension, style, structure, etc.) of the text.
  • Give students TIME to work through the questions.
  • Pair them with a student who can help them “break down” the question.
annotating the text
Annotating The Text
  • Make copies so that struggling readers can annotate (in various colors) the text as they read.
  • Students need color to activate this learning.
  • Encourage students to get active in their reading.
how can you monitor understanding of the difficult text
How can you monitor understanding of the difficult text?
  • Allow students to listen to the text on audio as they listen to the text.
  • Chunk parts of the film version (if applicable) to the text.
  • Ask students to compare sections of the text using graphic organizers.
assessing struggling readers
Assessing Struggling Readers
  • Authentic Projects- Use projects that make students think about the text in different ways.
  • Plan short formative assessments on key skills.
  • Chunk the summative assessment so that students are not overwhelmed with so much reading.
activity 3
Activity #3
  • Examine the sample formative and summative assessment on Romeo and Juliet.
  • Identify the ways that these assessments would help struggling readers.
  • What are some other ways we can assess these students?