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Reading Ideas for Middle and High School Teachers By: Debra C. Rollins July 12, 2005

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reading ideas for middle and high school teachers

Reading Ideas for Middle and High School Teachers

By: Debra C. Rollins

July 12, 2005

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has found that average reading scores for 17-year-olds have not improved since the 1970s. In 1998, 60 percent of 12th-graders were reading below proficiency.
  • It is common knowledge among secondary teachers that an increasing number of students are ill-equipped to read and comprehend the textbooks designed for proficient secondary readers.
  • What may not be so widely accepted, however, is the idea that content teachers can assist struggling readers. This premise does not mean that content teachers should become reading teachers; rather, content teachers can structure lessons to assist struggling readers, boosting them to proficient performance when reading content-based material.
what is your text book s grade level fry readability graph
What is your text book’s Grade Level Fry Readability Graph

- Randomly select three 100-word passages from a book or an article. - On the graph, plot the average number of syllables and the average number of sentences per 100 words to determine the grade level of the material. - Choose more passages per book if great variability is observed and conclude that the book has uneven readability. - Few books will fall into the solid black area, but when they do, grade level scores are invalid.

Additional Directions

- Randomly select three sample passages and count exactly 100 words beginning with the beginning of a   sentence. Don't count numbers. Do count proper nouns. - Count the number of sentences in the hundred words, estimating length of the fraction of the last sentence   to the nearest 1/10th. - Count the total number of syllables in the 100-word passage. If you don't have a hand counter available, an easy way is to simply put a mark above every syllable over one in each word, then, when you get to the end   of the passage, count the number of marks and add 100. - Enter graph with average sentence length and number of syllables; plot dot where the two lines intersect.   Area where dot is plotted will give you the approximate grade level. - If a great deal of variability is found, putting more sample counts into the average is desirable.

What Can All Teachers Do to Help Readers?

Teachers may wish to consider utilizing the following techniques and strategies in teaching reading in their content area:

  • Reading Instruction - Design lessons using a before, during, and after format in which reading is a significant component.
  • Respond to Reading - Have students respond to stance questions in writing, providing support from the text.
  • Develop Vocabulary - Aid understanding of content terms through context clues, word structure, and semantic features.
Questions-Answers-Relationships (QAR) - Help students to understand how to develop responses to questions and provide textual support.
  • Use a Reader's Checklist - Articulate strategies for reading that students can refer to before, during, and after reading.

  • Think Aloud - Model mental processes that expert readers use as they read.
Anticipation Guide - Give students a series of questions to generate interest in the topic
  • SQ3R - Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.
  • Reciprocal Teaching - Summarize, question, clarify, and predict content and meaning.
  • K-W-L - Explore what students know before and what they want to know before and during reading; review what they learned after reading.
Expository Text Structure - Teach the fundamental differences between expository and narrative materials.
  • Develop Prior Knowledge - Develop unfamiliar concepts, experiences, and vocabulary prior to reading.
  • Remember - Provide many reading opportunities related to the content!
SQ3R is a five-step study plan to help students construct meaning while reading. It uses the elements of questioning, predicting, setting a purpose for reading, and monitoring for confusion. SQ3R includes the following steps:

1. Survey -Have Students:

Think about the title: “What do I know?” “What do I want to know?”

Glance over headings and first sentences in paragraphs.

Look at illustrations and graphic aids.

Read the first paragraph.

Read the last paragraph or summary.

2. Question - Have Students:

Turn the title into a question.

Write down any questions that some to mind during the survey.

Turn headings into questions.

Turn subheadings, illustrations, and graphic aids into questions.

Write down unfamiliar vocabulary words and determine their meaning.

3. Read Actively - Have Students:

Read to search for answers to questions.

Respond to questions and use context clues for unfamiliar words.

React to unclear passages, confusing terms, and questionable statements by generating additional questions.

4. Recite – Have Students:

Look away from the answers and the book to recall what was read.

Recite answers to questions aloud or in writing.

Reread text for unanswered questions.

5. Review - Have Students:

Answer the major purpose question.

Look over answers and all parts of the chapter to organize information.

Summarize the information learned by drawing flow charts, writing a summary, participating in a group discussion, or by studying for a test.

Vocabulary Development
  • “Vocabulary knowledge is fundamental to reading comprehension; one cannot understand text without knowing what most of the words mean.” (Nagy, 1988) Vocabulary development is a major focus in many classrooms because the words students use while speaking, reading, and writing will influence their success in any academic area. In order to understand vocabulary words it is important for the learner to construct meaning from many experiences.
Provide students with direct or indirect experiences for new words through classroom discussions, activities, or personal examples.
  • Have students describe (rather than define) the new word in terms of their experiences.
  • Ask students to form a mental image of the new word using the information generated in Steps 1 above.
  • Provide synonyms, relationships, approximations, or categories for content words.
  • Keeping a Vocabulary Notebook
Reading Instruction in Content Classrooms
  • Incorporation of reading instruction into the content classroom is not as daunting as one might believe. Any reading assignment can be broken down into three comprehension-building steps:
  • Step One: Before ReadingThis step activates a knowledge base upon which students can build and establishes a purpose for reading.
  • Step Two: During Reading This step allows students to measure comprehension, clarify, visualize, and build connections.
  • Step Three: After Reading This step expands prior knowledge, builds connections, and deepens understanding.
Before Reading: Have your students:
  • Identify what they know about the topic. List specific ideas.
  • Write specific questions which they would like answered.
  • Make specific predictions about they think they will learn.
  • Preview the selection with attention to bold print, captions, and graphics.
During Reading: Have your students:
  • Generate mental pictures about what they are reading.
  • Summarize what they have just read.
  • Try to answer the questions asked.
  • Alter their predictions.
  • Identify items or facts which are confusing. Reread to try and clear up confusions.
After Reading – Have Your Students:
  • Work in groups to discuss the reading.
  • Create a final summary of what they have learned.
  • State how you they can use the information they have learned.
  • Revisit text for clarification.
  • Respond to questions.
Graphic Organizers
  • Graphic Organizers are maps that represent relationships and encourage organization of knowledge.
  • Implement the use of graphic organizers into student reading.These tools can help students to visually organize what they are reading and extract the main ideas. Graphic organizers are especially useful after a reading, as a reviewing tool.

Graphic Organizer

Compare and Contrast Web Graphic Organizer
  • Use compare and contrast graphic organizers to help students map out shared and unique characteristics of two concepts, events, characters, people, or processes. Webbing is an ideal pre- and post-lesson activity to enhance learning. Use the accompanying download in your classroom today!
  • Compare and Contrast Web
Expanded Venn Diagram
  • Use an expanded Venn Diagram to visually organize similarities and differences among three ideas, objects, or sets. The Expanded Venn Diagram can be used in literature to compare and contrast stories, poems, literary techniques, themes, etc. In math, it can be used to compare and contrast sets, geometrical shapes, and mathematical processes. Use the Diagram in history to compare and contrast historical figures, events, or forms of government.
  • Expanded Venn Diagram
Chain of Events Graphic Organizer
  • Use the Chain of Events Graphic Organizer to create a visual representation of successive events in which one event is dependent on another. In literature, use this graphic organizer to trace plot development. In science, the chain of events organizer can be used in labs to outline steps. In history, use this organizer to trace the development of an historical event. And in math, use this organizer to outline a series of steps in a mathematical formula.
  • Chain of Events Graphic Organizer
Fishbone Mapping Graphic Organizer
  • Use the Fishbone Mapping Graphic Organizer to determine the causal relationships in a complex idea or event. To use this graph most effectively, begin with the result and then analyze the contributing causes. For example, in literature, the resolution of a story may be the first piece of information on the map, and then students read to determine the evolution of the resolution. In science, the educator may provide the intended result and then create a lab in which students search for the cause(s) of the result.
  • Fishbone Mapping Graphic Organizer
Affective Graphic Organizer
  • Use the Affective Graphic Organizer to gauge the affective or emotional impact of factual knowledge. This organizer is most effectively used pre- and post-lesson. For example, before beginning a unit on the Civil War, give students a series of facts about the war to list on the right of the chart. At the bottom of the chart, ask students to record feelings, thoughts, or associations they develop based on the isolated facts. Then, compare and contrast the affective impact pre- and post- lesson. This graphic organizer also doubles as an advance organizer, indicating to students the learning that is expected to occur during the unit of study.
  • Affective Graphic Organizer
microsoft reader
Microsoft Reader
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websites to visit
Websites to Visit
  • America Reads Challenge - Program seeks to have every American child reading well and independently by the end of 3rd grade. Site includes directory of program participants, resource kit, and information on getting involved.
  • Book Adventure - A free on-line reading program encourages students in grades K-8 to read more often, for longer periods of time, and with greater understanding. Requires free registration.
  • Booktalks -- Quick and Simple - Database of over 600 ready-to-use booktalks. Designed for K-12 teachers and librarians.
  • The Catch Up Programme - Literacy intervention program designed for use with primary school children who have difficulty with reading and writing.
  • Cerbranetics Institute - Provides free phonics lesson to teachers and parents. Material may be used with students who have dyslexia.
  • CyberGuides - Standards-based, teacher-designed, Web-searching and writing/reading activities for K-12 students; based on core literature.
KidBibs - Identifies strategies and resources to help children become better readers, writers, and learners.
  • Nerd World: Education - Literature - Links related to the teaching of literature.
  • The Phonics Room - Provides poems, songs, literature, and other activities related to the letters of the alphabet.
  • Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children - A guide to prevention and intervention.
  • Reading and Language Arts Resources on the Web - Annotated directory of some 200 sites on phonics, whole language, lesson plans, and reading research.
  • Reading Comprehension - Includes weekly worksheets for upper elementary and middle school levels.
  • The Reading Genie - Links and lessons about learning to read including research based methods.
  • Read In- A one-day-a-year Internet event that lets thousands of children around the world talk to famous authors and with each other.
  • Reading-n-Phonics - Learn to read using phonics. Interactive phonics lessons for preschool and kindergarten children use colorful pictures and stories.
  • Reading Online - A journal for literacy educators K-12; includes articles, commentaries, reviews, and discussion forums.
Reading Rainbow - The Official Web Site - Companion site to the PBS program provides classroom activities to accompany daily programs as well as information on annual young writers' and illustrators' competitions.
  • - The place where teachers can turn to find ready to go units, as well as information about reading and learning with other teachers. Lesson plans are ready to go in your classroom.
  • Rhode Island READS - Statewide program utilizes AmeriCorps*VISTA workers and other volunteers to increase literacy among children, and promote and support literacy programs.
  • Speed Reading Self-Pacing Methods - By Dennis Doyle - Glendale Community College. Provides simple motion techniques to increase reading speed.
  • Succeed to Read - Provides tips and techniques parents and teachers can use to teach children how to read.
  • Suggestions for Improving Reading Speed - This article, provided by Virginia Tech's Division of Student Affairs, gives insight to factors that reduce reading rates and conditions for increased reading rates.
Teacher Resources - Tools

  • Tools

  • Teacher Resources - CyberGuides

  • Teachers' Developmental Reading Resource For Young Adult Fiction - Metasite containing original summaries, reviews, and readability assessment of YA fiction. Lots of resource links
  • Using Picture Books to Teach Narrative Writing Traits - Bibliography contains annotations for narrative writing traits, character traits, and curriculum connections.
  • What is Speed Reading? - Provides a basic guide to speed reading.
  • Whirlwind Basic Reading Through Dance - Organization partners with teachers to improve children's language arts and learning skills through the arts.
  • World of Reading - Where kids share books they've read or find a good book to read.
  • Word Wall Lists and More