Meeting Students’ Literacy Challenges


Read ideas on ways to MOTIVATE students:

Read about BOYS and reading. . . .


Achievement IS actually rising! (p. 10)

"U.S. schools, especially elementary schools, produce children who rank among the world's best readers!"  (p. 13)

"Children learn to read by a variety of materials and methods. . . .  No one approach is distinctly better in all situations and respects than the others that it should be considered the one best method." (p. 14)

WWC ~ What Works Clearinghouse has reviewed the research on over 150 reading programs.  Only 1 had the rating of "strong evidence" of improving achievement and that was Reading Recovery, a 1:1 program (p. 14).  The goal is to improve overall READING ACHIEVEMENT.  Some programs had evidence of decoding better, or faster reading, but this does NOT contribute to overall achievement.

Ignore vendors who tout "research-based!" (p. 15)  This is a meaningless phrase!

80% of the rich/poor reading achievement gap occurs in the summer!  Poor children enter in the fall 3 months behind where they were in June; advantaged students increase ability (p. 28).

"Rigorous, unbiased scientific research is an ivory tower standard that is simply very hard to accomplish in the real world of schools, teachers, and children" (p. 34).

Everyone has heard the proverb "practice makes perfect."  In learning to read it is true that reading practice – just reading – is a powerful contributor to the development of accurate, fluent, high-comprehension reading.

Reading volume should be a central feature of any intervention to improve reading comprehension (p. 53).

90 minutes of DAILY in school reading, ACTUALLY READING, is the MINIMUM recommendation (p. 54) with 30-45 minutes of daily writing.  There is a strong link between comprehension and composing (p. 62).

Engagement in reading has been found to be the most powerful instructional activity for fostering reading growth.  Teachers should not stretch one book out over 6 weeks with lots of activities (p. 58).  Assign MORE READING instead!

Test performance is determined by reading ability and general world knowledge ~ so encourage LOTS of reading at the child's successful level ~ which isn't necessarily his/her grade level! (p. 98).

Phrase reading, with appropriate intonation, and spontaneous self-correction, are clearly associated with those making better reading progress, but this is difficult to study.  Focusing on reading rate is more easily measured than juncture, prosody, intonation and stress (p. 102).

Reading word-by-word is a LEARNED behavior!  These children have become accustomed to relying on an external monitor for confirmation on each word ~ they are used to constant teacher interruptions!  (p. 105)

Struggling readers are:  given books that are too difficult, are asked to read aloud, are interrupted constantly and immediately, they pause and wait for prompts, and are asked to sound out words they don't know (p. 105).

Thoughtful literacy is the REASON for reading, not just memorizing facts (p. 129).  Students must be required to THINK, to demonstrate that they actually UNDERSTAND what they have read in order to attain the new literacy standards (p. 130).

There are so many studies on the benefits of thoughtful literacy:  more skilled peer collaboration, personal responsibility, higher level of engagement, better problem solving, informational text comprehension, better writing, persistence, improved test scores, enhanced content knowledge, motivation, independence, as well as improvement on basic skills assessments, as well as higher-order thinking skills, making connections across texts and curriculum (p. 132-133).

Reading Recovery is the ONLY tutoring program to bring struggling readers up to grade level in a short period of time.  Out of over 150+ programs studied, only Reading Recovery has strong research evidence to foster reading growth (p. 170).

6 T's of Effective Teaching (p. 208)

  • Time ~ More guided reading, more independent reading, more science reading, more social studies reading, read and write for 1/2 the day!  No worksheets!
  • Texts ~ Books each individual can read with high accuracy, fluency, comprehension.  ENORMOUS amounts of SUCCESSFUL reading with lots of motivation!
  • Teaching ~ Explicit demonstrations of strategies are modeled, lots of small group instruction, whole group is limited.
  • Talk ~ Conversations about books ~ NOT interrogations.  Make children's thinking visible while building understanding.
  • Tasks ~ Greater use of longer assignments, tasks that integrate several content areas, substantive work with more complexity.  Students have similar but differentiated tasks.
  • Testing ~ Work is evaluated based on effort and improvement using rubrics to hold students accountable.

Please watch this video on the Common Core State Standards:

Please watch this video on building relationships with your students:

TED Talks ~ Every Kid Needs a Champion

Read this on getting to know your students:  Top 5 Ways to Get to Know Your Students

Please watch this video on Teaching Kids How To Reread as a Strategy:

Working With Struggling Readers

Please watch this video from Reading Rockets ~ inspirational background to teach struggling readers:

Working with struggling readers PowerPoint: Working with Students who Struggle with Reading (1)

Please watch my presentation on SES status and reading:  Final PowerPoint Presentation (4)

Please watch this video on how students view themselves: 

And watch this video on differentiation:

Read these differentiation websites: and


Chapter One ~ Reading Achievement and Instruction in U.S. Schools

  • At the end of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade there was no difference in the reading achievement in Reading First funded schools from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 of those low income schools who received the funding and those that did not, nor was there any difference in reading engagement (p. 2-3).
  • The reading gap between more and less economically advantaged families did not close.
  • NCLB was a failure in fostering reading achievement (p. 3).
  • The NRP or National Reading Panel was charged by Congress with recommending scientific studies that were worthy of consideration in the design of reading instruction (p. 2).
  • The NCLB was part of a larger scheme intended to reduce the power of teacher unions, colleges of education, and teacher professionalism to privatize public education (p. 3).
  • The NCLB is an extension of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1966, but today, we have MORE poor families than in the 60's (p. 3).
  • TODAY, however, we have clear evidence that we can teach every child to read on grade level by the end of 1st grade, other than those with reading disabilities or excessive absences (p. 3).
  • Research is OFTEN MISREPRESENTED! (p. 4)
  • On average, the performance of our 9 and 15 year olds EQUALED or EXCEEDED that of students in the majority of other industrialized nations participating in international assessments (p. 5).
  • The general interpretation of the NAEP, or National Assessment of Educational progress, ignores important gains that have been made over the past 40 years (p. 5).
  • Across the 40 year period, much progress was made in closing the achievement gap between white and minority students (p. 7).
  • MINORITY ENROLLMENT expanded RAPIDLY between 1971-2008 (p. 8).
  • Even still, across the 40-50 year period, the elementary school achievement gap rose dramatically (p. 9).
  • Don't forget that text difficulty has also been re-normed in the 1980s.  What once was considered a 7th grade text is actually considered 6th grade today (p. 9).
  • Good news is NO NEWS!  Advocates for privatizing education focus on trying to persuade the public to accept a radical shift in the financing of public education (p. 9).
  • There are trends in those students who lag behind:  parents that are not high school graduates, family income, mother's age ~ that's it!  It has less to do with single parent homes or working homes (p. 10).
  • There are also Black/White gaps, and Hispanic/White gap, Rich/Poor gap ~ all with similar statistics between them.  The boy/girl gap is a smaller gap, with girls outperforming boys (p. 10).  Consider a poor, minority boy failing ~ this is a school system problem (p. 11).
  • Retention is getting very common!  Children taking the NAEP reading assessments are older than they used to be!  Too many students are taking the the 4th grade NAEP who should be in 5th or 6th grade! (p. 11)
  • 3 Challenges:  1st ~ Designing schools that are less parent dependent.  Schools don't work well for low income families and of parents with lower education.  2nd ~ Vast amount of growing technology places higher order demands on all of us, including synthesizing and evaluating information from multiple sources.  The performances on the NAEP have risen considerably, but higher-order thinking strategies is still a struggle.  3rd ~ Getting students to WANT to read (p. 11-12).
  • Ignore "hundreds of studies show. . ."; it is impossible to locate a 100 of the same effect (p. 14).
  • Much of the educational research available fails to meet rigorous quality criteria; studies support biases (p. 14).
  • The federal government loves packaged "reading reform," but 50 years of research shows this is not reliable.  Federal and state policy ignores studies and attempt to reform from top down (p. 16).
  • The RAND research group produced a 10 year evaluation of this federal effort to adopt "proven programs" found that adopting a whole school design to improve performance was not proven  (p. 17).
  • "Proven programs" from a decode ago did NOT withstand independent research! (p. 17)
  • Another problem with research today is available studies study the effects of literacy intervention on assessments of basic literacy, in other words, not higher level attainment (p. 17).
  • The federal program, Title One, was not helpful because lessons contradicted what research says about struggling readers.  Supplementary reading lessons to help struggling readers aren't always being taught by qualified people or have quality lessons (p. 18).
  • A child who is poor and qualifying for Title One, is ELL, and learning disabled would qualify for 3 federal programs, however, the child typically will not get this, and the services would not be coordinated, anyways (p. 19).
  • Congress has terminated funding for the Reading First portion of the Title One funding due to lack of reading achievement gains (p. 20).
  • "Buyer beware" should have been the motto of the NCLB because there was corruption of recommending non-research based programs by authors who were involved in the program (p. 20).
  • As far as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, struggling readers must demonstrate achievement growth GREATER than the growth of a grade level peer (p. 20).
  • The percentage of those meeting AYP varies from state to state because some states have set lower standards (p. 20).
  • If a school fails to meet AYP for all subgroups, corrective actions include:  replace staff, new curriculum, extend day or year, decrease management authority, appoint outside experts to advise, restructure organization, reopen as a charter school, replace the principal, takeover by state or private management (p. 23).
  • There is a complete lack of research for these NCLB options!  There is no research that the lack of AYP options above will help! (p. 25)
  • The government is pushing "proven programs" ~ there are none (p. 25).
  • A study from 45 years ago by Bond and Dyskstra (1967) found research should focus on teacher and learning situations rather than methods and materials.  All programs worked somewhere, but none worked everywhere (p. 26).
  • Standardized tests should evaluate school improvement, not individual achievement, regardless, they are problematic in either case (p. 26).
  • There's a reason why group standardized tests are not used to provide evidence of reading growth, and school psychologists test for reading disabilities, yet group tests are used for AYP!  (p. 26)
  • In 2003, 30,000 Florida 3rd graders were retained for flunking the state exam.  The next year, the 4th graders state test scores ROSE!  Now the governor can proclaim ed reform is working!  It is NOT!  You just removed the lowest students!  (p. 27)
  • SUMMER READING LOSS!   Summer reading setback potentially contaminates reading test scores because it works to lower the reading gains children enrolled in high-poverty schools make (p. 28).
  • Test prep in schools should be avoided because it doesn't develop reading strategies or word knowledge.  What is the point of raising scores without raising reading achievement (p. 28).
  • We are fine at identifying who needs RTI, but we aren't focusing on powerful interventions to bring the students up to grade level.  Children identified for special ed. may not have a disability, but lack of opportunities.  Schools are spending the money on the wrong things ~ materials not supported by research and NOT 1:1 tutoring (p. 30).
  • When we think about research in reading, parents of higher-achieving students would more than likely sign up, creating a positive bias.  Teachers who CHOOSE to be part of the study create a positive bias.  The developer may pay someone to administer the program ~ this then would be done by someone who truly knows the program, creating a positive bias (p. 32-33).
  • Of 900 studies on interventions for learning disabled, only 180 met minimal criteria for rigor, and fewer than 10% were rated as exhibiting high quality research methodology (p. 32).
  • STOP testing children on nonsense words.  It does not lead to improved reading achievement (p. 35).
  • How the effects of an intervention are evaluated makes a huge difference in conclusion of its effectiveness (p. 35).
  • Think about educational magazines and journals you've read.  They only focus on good news, not the failure of reform or an intervention (p. 39).
  • Be skillful at "researched" claims vs. personal agendas.  For example, the government's Put Reading First booklet included using decodable text, even though that is non-researched based for identifying "scientific" curriculum materials (p. 40).
  • There's no one best way to teach all students (p. 41).
  • Remember, just as students differ, teachers differ.  If you want an intervention to fail, mandate its use with unskilled teachers or teachers who don't believe in it (p. 41).


Chapter Two ~ What Really Matters:  Kids Need to Read A Lot

  • Adding reading time into the school day is just as effective, or even more than effective, than traditional instruction (p. 45).
  • Higher achieving students read 3x as much each week during the school day than the lower achievers, plus they read out of school (p. 45).
  • In a 1st grade study, higher achievers spent 70% of their instructional time reading, where the lower achievers read 37% of time, focusing more so on penmanship or sight words (p. 45).
  • The volume of reading done by students DURING school is one of the most important differences between teacher effectiveness (p. 45).
  • Lower achievers are asked to read aloud, round robin, which reduces how much time they read/day (p. 45).
  • LOTS of wide reading is critical to develop vocabulary (p. 46).
  • Struggling readers need to read MORE THAN their peers to catch up ~ 3-5 hours/day (p. 46)
  • The correlational for the positive effects of extensive reading achievement is evident on the 1998 NAEP Reading Report Card.
  • Teachers must model and demonstrate reading strategies (p. 51).
  • Increasing amount of silent reading is the most obvious strategy for improving reading achievement (p. 51).
  • A study by Wilkinson and colleagues (1988) suggests that oral reading is better for LD students (p. 51).
  • Giving students books to read over the summer has the same effect as going to summer school (p. 52).
  • The greatest failures of Title 1 and Special Ed ~ neither program reliably increased the volume of reading (p. 52).
  • Children whose reading development lags behind their peers engage in far less reading (p. 54).
  • Reading volume distinguishes effective teachers and high-achievement classrooms (p. 54).
  • Reading can be oral, silent, choral, paired, or any combination is fine (p. 56).
  • Poorer readers are also from schools with shorter school days, and in schools with organizational inefficiency.  There are a lost 30-50 minutes/day with lining up, dismissing, organizational tasks which can be better spent on reading and writing (p. 56-57).
  • Teachers spend TOO long of a period on a book, for ex. 6 weeks on Island of the Blue Dolphins limits daily reading time (p. 58).
  • No core reading program contains enough reading material to develop high levels of reading proficiency (p. 59).
  • Teachers should have 2.5 hours of UNINTERRUPTED teaching time with no pull-outs.  Reading stamina needs to be built with longer texts for longer periods (p. 60).
  • Students do not know how to sustain attention to comprehend longer passages (p. 61).
  • All children should acquire the ability to read 30 minutes/day independently.
  • Stronger and more comprehensive before and after school programs are needed, as well as longer periods for special subjects to reduce fragmentation (p. 61).
  • Develop volume standards by the week, not the day.  The children should get lost in a book.  Try having one whole day devoted to reading, and one half day devoted to writing (p. 63).
  • Dr. Dick's Whole Day Plan is scheduling just 1 subject per day!  This creates extended reading and writing for research.  Try it for a week!  (p. 63)
  • Don't rely on textbooks with their activities.  They cover too many topics, without developing any well, and they don't motivate (p. 65).
  • Middle and high school students don't read enough in and out of school, and are unprepared for college.  Reading more broadens and deepens content knowledge (p. 65).
  • Textbooks are written 2 years above grade level.  Now imagine a student reading 2 years below grade level. . . .  Teachers need to select multiple texts with a range of difficulty.  Reading achievement and content subject achievement is the goal; this is necessary to use a variety of texts (p. 65).
  • There is NO research supporting workbooks or test prep!  (p. 66)
  • Internally motivated reading has a stronger relationship to reading growth than volume of mandated unengaged reading (p. 66).


Chapter Three ~ Kids Need Books They Can Read

  • Adults, including college-educated adults, avoid hard reading whenever possible (p. 67).
  • High-success reading is critical to reading development and to the development of positive attitudes towards reading (p. 68).
  • When the reading get too difficult, there is negative and off-task behavior and lower self-esteem (p. 68).
  • When success is widespread, student engagement deepens (p. 68).
  • Lower error rates result in improved learning (p. 69).
  • Independent reading:  98% accuracy, reading with expression, 90% comprehension (p. 69).
  • Instructional (with teacher guidance):  95-97% accuracy, 75% comprehension (p. 69).
  • AVOID word-by-word reading, 94% and below accuracy, 70% and below comprehension (p. 69).  This results in low self-esteem and a negative attitude.
  • A study by Juel (1994) shows in grade 1 ~ QUALITY of word recognition is more important than QUANTITY of words, but once a child has word recognition, reading quantity is critical (p. 69).
  • When you tutor students, pick texts that they can read with 98-100% accuracy!  This is far more beneficial than tutoring at a grade level text (p. 69).
  • Many students are faced with texts daily that are too complex for optimal learning (p. 71).
  • In a study, lower-achieving students who were tutored using reader level matched texts performed better than the poorest readers who were tutored in grade level text (p. 72).
  • Choice is important!  Not every child reads the same book, students work together, teacher is a discussion leader, not a lecturer, teacher models good thinking, there is no need for extrinsic rewards, energizing activities, classroom filled with books with books being introduced and displayed, teacher emphasizes effort, teacher reads aloud with great expression, small group instruction, higher order thinking, and students have choices in projects (p. 73-74).
  • When students (and adults) are interested in a subject, that put in more effort and engagement.  Students also like choices, no matter how trivial (p. 74).
  • Teachers need to measure text complexity.  Check here:  What Reading Level is This?.  You can use a formula, but also consider picture support, level of interest, and prior knowledge (p. 75) as well as page format, font size, sentence length, vcoabulary, and story predictability (p. 78).
  • Dale-Chall Readability Formula is available at:
  • 3 finger rule:  if there are 3 tricky words on the 1st 100 hundred words the book is too hard (p. 79).
  • Observe your readers.  If a grade 3-6 reader is subvocalizing, the book is too hard (p. 79).
  • Read about Running Records!  Practice using Peter Johnson's book, Running Records (2000) as it comes with an audio for practicing (p. 81).  Don't forget that a running record needs a comprehension check as well ~ Narratives:  characters, setting, story line, ending.  Informational:  topic, facts, link to prior knowledge (p. 81).
  • Higher-achieving school have more books in the classroom libraries and these children read more (p. 82).  School libraries depend on wealth (p. 83).
  • IDEA:  have the custodian install plastic rain gutters below chalkboard tray so books can be displayed.  Display books ~ don't just have spines showing (p. 82).
  • Minimum 500 books/classroom, mixture of narrative and informational, on grade level and below.  Exemplary teachers have 1500 books (p. 83).
  • 1st graders should read 10 or more books/day ~ including books they are rereading, as well (p. 83).
  • In grade 5 there's a wider array of achievement and books (p. 83).
  • If given the choice of hiring a para or buying more books, choose books.  Studies show negative to neutral effects of paras on reading achievement (p. 84).
  • A recommendation is before and after school library access, with a specialist who is not reshelving or circulating books (a para can do that) but linking library resources to the core curriculum and helping students to find the right books (p. 84).
  • There is a .85 correlation between NAEP reading achievement scores and library adequacy/reading achievement.  CT, NY, DE have larger school libraries hence higher NAEP scores (p. 85).
  • Research shows having easy access to appropriate texts is as important as the number of minutes of planning time, class size, length of school day ~ all negotiated under teacher contracts (p. 89).
  • Be creative about making book bins with partner teachers by topic and rotating (p. 89).
  • Schools should supply every child with at least one magazine subscription to be sent home (p. 89).  Game-Pro and J-14 are popular choices.  Articles may be written above grade level, but students persevere when there is interest (p. 91).
  • Series books and mediocre books are FINE to read!  They help create the skill and interest necessary to read better-quality books (p. 91).  In series books, word recognition load is reduced (proper nouns), and author's style becomes familiar, making reading successful (p. 93).
  • Schools should participate in Reading is Fundamental (RIF) so students can get book at home (p. 93-94)
  • Display classroom books by author, topic, genre. . .and change frequently.  Briefly introduce each book (p. 95).

fluency anchor chart

Chapter Four ~ Kids Need to Learn to Read Fluently  

  • Red flags of a struggle:  slow rate, finger pointing, phrasing and intonation breakdown, repetition of words or phrases (p. 99).
  • When our motivation is high, we will typically persist with difficult reading (p. 100).
  • For rate and fluency data to be useful, they need to be gathered regularly, which is the idea behind the informal reading inventory, running records and words correct per minute.  Data that fails to inform instruction is useless (p. 101).
  • Rate of reading isolated word lists is useless for estimating reading and comprehension; the same is true for reading nonsense words.  This information is even further useless if administered by anyone other than the classroom teacher (p. 101).
  • Better readers do not read word-by-word but with better phrasing and intonation ~ 5-7 word phrases, and also spontaneously self-corrected (p. 101).
  • Children with slower rates read fewer words; children will read far less, and reading volume is critical! (p. 102)
  • Reading fluently requires automatic information processing (p. 103).
  • Some students aren't fluent due to the text being too difficult ~ word-by-word, sounding out, hesitations, negatively impacting comprehension (p. 103).
  • Assisted repeated reading with teacher modeling, or having students simply reread on their own, did improve rate, accuracy, and comprehension (p. 103).
  • Older readers could struggle for 3 different reasons, so there isn't a 1 size fits all approach:  decoding issues, inability to transfer skills to connected text, or need to grow in automaticity.  These students have read millions less words than their better reading peers (p. 104).
  • Repeated reading is BETTER than listening to stories repeatedly, drilling flashcards, or providing indications where phrase boundaries are located (p. 105).
  • Struggling readers are:  given books that are too difficult, are asked to read aloud, are interrupted constantly and immediately, they pause and wait for prompts, and are asked to sound out words they don't know (p. 105).
  • GOAL:  give books of appropriate difficulty, read silently, self-monitor and self-correct, correct at end of sentence or after wait time, be asked to reread or cross-check when interrupted (p. 106).
  • Provide repeated readings without interruptions and provide APPROPRIATE leveled material! (p. 107)
  • There was a study of 1 group of strugglers rereading the same story each week, and 1 group read 3 stories each week (wide reading). The wide reading group provided faster reading fluency growth with gains in vocabulary and comprehension (p. 107).
  • IDEA:  Save Monday for repeated reading day ~ students read chorally or in pairs. Tuesday-Friday have extensive high success reading (p. 107).
  • DIBELS are not highly predictive of reading achievement ~ it has nothing to do with comprehension.  DIBELS is for rate and accuracy only, and does not correlate to reading proficiency (p. 108).
  • Students must STOP relying on other people to monitor their reading!  (p. 109)
  • A GREAT STRATEGY THAT MUST BE USED CONSISTENTLY BY PARENTS AND TEACHERS ~ Preview, Pause, Prompt, Praise ~ researched to work.  PREVIEW:  discuss title, cover, "What will this be about?"  Child and adult read chorally until child taps table for adult to stop.  Student makes a mistake.  Adult will PAUSE until child gets to end of sentence ~ the idea is to see if the child will self-correct, reread sentence, notice error, go back and decode. . . .  After 3 seconds, adults PROMPTS with "Let's try that again."  If error isn't fixed, adult gives the child the word, and the choral reading continues, until the child taps the adult out.  PRAISE child for strategies used.  Comprehension is simply sharing favorite parts and why (p. 109-110).
  • When you ask a student to reread, set goals/standards.  If a child is reading at a 1st grade level, have the child follow the grade 1 WPM standard (p. 110).
  • Have students read on audiotape.  They will read aloud, listen, marking in black ink their errors.  They will reread, listen, mark in red ink their errors.  They will reread, listen, mark in blue ink their errors.  They will see improvement each time (p. 110-111).
  • Have students time their reading with a stopwatch just to see positive results with each rereading.  Comprehension is the reading goal, not fast reading, but this will improve confidence after lots of failure experienced (p. 111).
  • If an older child is reading on a 3rd grade level, give them a 3rd grade level book, but if it is perceived as "babyish," have them prepare a lesson to help a struggling 3rd grader with the book (p. 111).
  • Eliminate other students interrupting a poorer reader by having books closed, finger only in book.  Students must listen to see if it makes sense (p. 112).
  • Choral reading is excellent, even if it is for key parts of the text that need expression. Typically have students read the text first, then reread it chorally (p. 112).
  • Another idea is the teacher starts reading the book aloud ~ this way characters and setting and key vocabulary are introduced, and the students finish independently (p. 112).
  • Echo reading ~ paragraph by paragraph with teacher providing a fluent model (p. 112)
  • If your school must use a basal do this ~ Teacher reads aloud story and uses a story map.  When students read the story, the comprehension piece will help them with decoding.  Do echo reading, then partner reading, and a 3rd rereading made into a performance activity.  THEN, student rereads the story at home 2x to an adult.  (At this point the same story is read 5x to 3 different audiences ~ teacher, peer, parent).  FINALLY, students engage in a daily self-selected reading activity for 15-30 minutes.  Students can reread familiar books at this time, or books from home (p. 113).
  • When doing the above in three grade 2 classrooms, yearly gains averaged 1.8 grade equivalents, with the largest gains made by those entering grade 2 below grade level!
  • Shared Book Experience ~ has superior impact on all measures of reading proficiency.  It can be done with with any reading material.  The teacher:  leads a discussion of title, cover, illustrations.  Children make predictions.  Teacher dramatically reads text aloud.  Leads a response to story ~ perhaps a retelling.  The text is read and reread several times. . . . (p. 115).
  • On subsequent rereadings, the teacher highlights either letter sounds, onset-rhyme patterns, inflections, syllables, repetition, rhyme, unique words, or they cover words or word parts to elicit predictions.  Children reread the story in pairs or chorally (p. 115).
  • Teacher decides, based on what individuals need, on what to focus on in the text, rather than following the teacher's edition (p. 115).
  • Students in the Shared Book Experience classrooms had better word analysis, comprehension, and fluency (p. 115).
  • Repeated readings can help foster comprehension; students can experiment reading dialogue with more expression, and realize various interpretations of the text with each rereading (p. 116).
  • Rereadings can lead into "performance" so rereading is done with a purpose.  Reader's Theatre, Be the Character, Be the Character on a Talk Show, create a puppet show. . . .(p. 116-119).
  • Have students develop their own Reader's Theatre scripts rather than buying commercially made ones for higher-order engagement (p. 116).
  • With paper plates and popsicle sticks, kids can make masks to cover their faces to alleviate anxiety (p. 117).
  • Be the Character ~ create a short performance dressed and acting like the character.  Lots of rereading must be done to pull this off (p. 117).
  • On a Talk Show ~ the teacher asks the character to tell about himself.  The classroom "audience" asks questions.  Lots of rereading must be done to pull this off (p. 118).
  • Listening to reading is not beneficial for fluency because the child can't keep up with the voice.  Have children make book tapes for lower level students to make rereading a purposeful activity (p. 118).
  • Fostering fluency can lead to personal fulfillment and reading enjoyment, as well as comprehension.  It is critical to develop higher order literacy skills so students can finally focus on characters, plot (p. 119-120).
  • Repeated reading is GREAT, but WIDE reading (lots of books) is even better for comprehension (p. 120).
  • Repeated rereading is short term; your fluency goal is short term as you want to move the child into extended independent reading activities (p. 120).


Chapter Five ~ Students Need to Develop Thoughtful Literacy

  • The latest assessments of reading proficiency require students to think about what they read and explain/describe their thinking, NOT recall the text (p. 122).
  • Mastering bottom-up skills (decoding) does not automatically lead to comprehension (p. 122).
  • Don't ask known answer questions; these are associated with interrogation.  When adults talk about books, they don't interrogate (p. 123).
  • Adults discuss the gists, perspectives, they look for bias in texts (p. 124).
  • When we talk about texts, text-to-self connections naturally appear (p. 125).
  • Literate talk about texts involves summarizing, synthesizing, analyzing and evaluating (p. 126).
  • Summarizing ~ Most common and necessary strategy.  This is what literate people do daily, providing a general recitation (p. 136).  Pages 143-146 describe the lengths a 1st grade teacher took to teach summarizing, involving lots and lots of rereading of Stellaluna, by providing initial support on character, setting, problem, ending by explicitly pointing each out on her 6th reading of the text.  She then assigned collaborative activities, where 4 groups of children each focused on 1 area and drew, labeled, and verbalized their thinking, then the students had greater independence. Children who enter grade 1 with fewer book opportunities are deficient in summarizing (p. 147).
  • Story maps can be used as an instructional strategy for older students (p. 143).
  • Analyzing ~ analyses are connected to other experiences, and involve summary and synthesis (p. 127).
  • Synthesizing ~ the combining of multiple sources of information, requiring summarizing the key elements, and it requires some analysis, making judgments about accuracy (p. 127).
  • Evaluating ~ we make value judgments (p. 127).
  • Research on poor readers show little reading being done, especially silent reading, few connections to curriculum themes and topics, little comprehension focus, little motivation, collaboration or problem solving (p. 128).
  • We confuse memory of a text for understanding (p. 129).
  • Skip the copying, remembering, reciting.  Evidence shows engaging in discussions improves achievement, and is necessary for all students! (p. 130)
  • Struggling readers can no longer focus on words, letters, and sounds.  With them reading less, they have less exposure to comprehension (p. 130).
  • Move away from skills emphasis design (p. 131).
  • Core programs often focus on assessment of recitation rather than transferring skills and promoting independent use of effective thinking while reading (p. 134).
  • Strategies should take several weeks (10 or more) to teach with instruction and repeated activity.  Teacher demonstrations, strategy in use, application of strategy across many texts (p. 135).  Strategies should be taught in BUNDLES, not isolated skills.  For example, teaching summarizing involves imagery, prior knowledge. . .(p. 137).
  • Activating Prior Knowledge:  linked to developing prediction (p. 136).
  • Story Grammar Lessons:  help students to develop summaries (p. 136).
  • Imagery:  internal visual image of characters, setting, etc. and making a mnemonic image to facilitate recall (p. 136).
  • Question Generating:  students develop questions as they read (p. 136).
  • Thinking Aloud:  internal dialogue that good readers use as they read.  Use of think aloud is often used to develop other strategies (p. 136).
  • Did you know only 10% of struggling readers have decoding problems?  They need comprehension help!  Thoughtful comprehension strategy lessons are needed, not assign and assess (p. 137).
  • Wide independent reading develops vocabulary (p. 137).
  • There are 4 clues to figure out unknown words when reading:  Authors may introduce a new word, and then immediately define it.  They may restate information.  They may use but, signaling a contrast, or they may provide gist clues (p. 138).
  • Teachers need to model these when reading aloud.  Instead of asking what a word means, ask "Can you tell us your thinking when figuring out that word?" (p. 139)
  • Have students notice new words and become word detectives by keeping track of the word or phrases (p. 139).
  • Teach 10 words per week, which is about 400/year, but most students learn up to 4,000 per year!   They aren't taught directly but through wide reading (p. 140).
  • Choose tier 2 words to teach ~ words they will encounter again in text or in adult conversation (p. 140).
  • Teach words by theme.  Be brief ~ 10 minute sessions/week, but keep focusing on working out word meanings on own (141).
  • One idea is to teach 2 words before reading.  Read book and stop at new word.  Reread sentence, and re-explain word, continue reading, review new words, and place new words in a new sentence, and discuss.  Studies show that 40% of these words were recalled 6 weeks later (p. 141-142).
  • It is best to develop vocabulary with direct instruction on using context clues through reading (p. 142).  Central to that growth is wide reading of high success texts because most readers develop 80% of their vocabulary from extensive reading (p. 143).
  • Children need to use several strategies simultaneously as they read, especially as stories become more complex with unfamiliar settings and time periods (p. 148).  The chart on page 148 adapted by Bergman (1992) mentions the gist, predicting, visualizing, summarizing, monitoring comprehension.
  • Try Questioning the Author by Beck and colleagues (1997).  These questions lead to MORE questions.  It helps students realize that not all writing is written well ~ what is the author attempting to communicate?  What needs to be inferred (p. 150).


  • Don't get so hung up on teaching strategies at the expense of not reading more (p. 150).
  • Start thoughtful literacy in preK and kindergarten with modeling text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connection discussions (p. 151).
  • Sticky notes are good for older students to place in books when connections are made (p. 153).
  • Classroom should be noisier with literate conversation, with teachers never answering questions he/she knows the answer to, or 1 word answers (p. 154).
  • Questions can be:  What will this be about?  What did it remind you of. . .?  Is there something you wanted to know more about? etc. (p. 154)
  • Literate conversation creates collaborative classrooms, not competitive, where students help each other understand, not competing for the "right" answer.  This is THINKING, not simply recalling (p. 154-155).
  • Page 155 offers text ideas for fostering thoughtful literacy (p. 155).

Chapter Six ~ Where to Begin:  Instruction for Struggling Readers

  • States are being enticed to tie student achievement gains to estimates of teacher quality (p. 158).
  • Reading difficulties in most beginning readers may not be biologically based, but may be related to poorer reading opportunities (p. 158).
  • Effective schools ~ more classrooms where high-quality reading and writing are available (p. 159).
  • Teacher quality must be improved; expanding what teachers know produces a substantial impact on students (p. 159).
  • High-quality professional development for classroom teachers was as effective as providing expert tutorial support for struggling readers.  Creating more effective classroom reading lessons literally eliminated the need for specialist teachers to work with struggling readers (p. 159).
  • It is time to rethink professional development (p. 160).
  • Lowest achieving students in the exemplary teacher classrooms performed at the same level as the average students in typical classrooms.  NOTHING WAS AS POWERFUL AS THE QUALITY OF THE TEACHER IN PREDICTING THE ACHIEVEMENT OF STUDENTS, including parents and socioeconomic status (p. 160).
  • Teacher learning occurs on the job, not in workshops (p. 160).
  • Teachers as Professional Readers ~ TAPER~ about 7 staff members reading a professional text and creating school initiatives (p. 161).
  • For professional book reviews see:  http://www.teachersread.nethttp://www.reading.org, and  This can help the staff make a great book choice.
  • On page 163 in the Allington text, there's a list of videos to consider purchasing on thoughtful literacy for professional development (p. 163).
  • Teacher Inquiry Projects ~ TIPS ~ teams of teachers should work on inquiry projects because through teamwork shared knowledge is fostered and professional conversations develop.  See page 164 in the text for TIP guideline resource books (p. 164).
  • Professional Conversation ~ quality professional conversations predict teacher development.  Professional conversations enable teachers to make decisions about curriculum, assessment, instruction.  Teachers should be working in teams, clusters, committees, task forces (p. 165).
  • Teachers who work in schools where their autonomy was honored, where principals asked them what they needed, these teachers accepted responsibility and differentiated instruction (p. 166).
  • TAPER and TIP activities generate professional conversation, but teachers can also hold grade level meetings in classrooms and tour each for ideas, hold weekly grade level meetings, post their lesson plans online (p. 166).
  • Schools that improve over time foster collegial sharing and support.  Enhancing professional conversations serves children better (p. 167).
  • Smaller class sizes with expert teachers  in better organized school is key.  The lower income students especially benefit (p. 167).
  • Teacher effectiveness was 2-3x as powerful than class size (p. 167).
  • STOP all children in a class working on the same book all day/all year!  You need to differentiate (p. 168).
  • If common texts are forced, differentiate, such as reading the difficult text aloud to the strugglers.  Don't forget, all readers need books they can be successful with most of the day (p. 167).
  • Schools should order fewer copies of a variety of texts rather than whole class sets of 1 text.  The cost is the same, and lessons can then be differentiated (p. 168).
  • Plan multi-level, multi-source lessons with blocks of uninterrupted time (p. 169).
  • Schools need to get better organized to not waste a minute of instructional time (p. 169).
  • GOALS:  teacher expertise, multiple curriculum level materials, effective operating schedule, reasonable class size (p. 169).
  • Support programs cannot and should not be viewed as a cure for poor classroom teaching (p. 170).
  • Intensity of lessons are necessary with low teacher-student ratio, scheduling, pacing.  1:1 or small group is the best, and done daily (p. 170).
  • Tutoring is more effective than systematic phonics instruction (p. 170).
  • Expert teachers working with 2-3 students is best with EFFECTIVE classroom teachers.  The intervention does not replace the classroom (p. 171).
  • An idea is to offer very intensive intervention on 10 week cycles, because these work faster and more reliably (p. 171-172).
  • See suggest RTI books on page 172.  If providing RTI does not accelerate reading development after a year or 2, then the child could be identified as having a learning disability (p. 172).
  • The expert teachers should be teaching the teachers.  The classroom instruction should be top notch.  Hire Reading Coaches to initiate TAPER and TIPS groups and grade level team meetings.   (p. 173-174).  Check out this site:
  • Do not teach paras to support in reading!  (p. 174)
  • Students need appropriate texts in their hands all day long, not just during support groups (p. 175).
  • Less intensive interventions for modest gains is a waste (p. 175).
  • Strugglers should have 2 reading lessons during the school day.  Lessons can be offered before or after school, or on Saturdays or summer, however, reading volume is critical.  If a 2nd lesson is going to take the place of lots of reading, this is misguided (p. 176-177).
  • However, for young children who can't read for long sustained times, a 2nd lesson is best (p. 177).
  • When you add interventions during the day, you aren't adding instructional time (p. 177).
  • THE REMEDIAL READING TEACHER IS FAILING BECAUSE the reading lesson takes place during the school day, so we are not increasing the quantity of lessons nor the volume of reading.  Also, many classroom teachers aren't differentiating instruction (p. 178).
  • If recruiting college students, reading buddies, high school volunteers ~ these people need training, tutorials, ongoing supervision, support (p. 181).
  • Out of school lessons do not mimic the school day lessons.  Students choose material, have interaction with tutors, more engaged (p. 182).
  • Homework is not helpful as it is too difficult, trivial/boring, more than 30 minutes/day.  This can bog down after school support.  "No strong evidence was found for an association between the homework-achievement link and outcome measure of the subject matter"  (p. 184).
  • After school programs have to be effective (p. 184).
  • Summer reading loss ~ lower-achieving, lower-income students increased their reading skills at the same rate as those who attended summer school when children were given summer reading books (p. 185).
  • 80% of the rich/poor reading gap happens over the summer months due to access to reading and volume of reading and the relationship between volume of reading and reading proficiency (p. 185).
  • Summer reading ideas:  reading clubs, call the teacher's voicemail to read aloud/summarize, mailing 1 book/week to strugglers, RV mobile tutoring center, giving gifts of books to children (p. 186-187).
  • Summer school needs to produce twice the reading and writing from a normal school day (p. 191).
  • Reading engagement is critical.  Low income readers who read voluntarily had better reading proficiencies than advantaged students who weren't engaged (p. 192).
  • Use software such as Hyperstudio and PageMaker for report writing.
  • These are good websites for older readers (p. 195):  http://www.discoveryschool.comhttp://www.insects.org,
  • The 4th grade slump might have to do with informational texts being poorly written, with topics that children have little prior knowledge in, and maybe students weren't exposed to enough nonfiction in earlier grades (p. 196).
  • Half reading kids do should be informational texts so they know organization of them and build world knowledge (p. 196).
  • Break new words apart and walk the students through chunk by chunk, especially pointing out accented syllables (p. 197).
  • 10% of adolescent readers have decoding problems ~ their issues are  with vocabulary and comprehension!  (p. 198)
  • EVERY teacher should teach reading because history and biology are both written in different perspectives (p. 203).
  • Reading and writing problems may actually be content learning problems.
  • An idea is to restructure middle and high school with an end of day "open" period for extra help without sports or dismissal scheduled (p. 205).

3 Comprehension Intervention articles:

compintervention1    compintervention2     compintervention3

3 Fluency Intervention articles:

fluencyelementary      fluencymiddle        fluencyhighschool

3 Vocabulary Intervention articles:

vocabELL     vocabintervention     vocab

2 Decoding Intervention articles:

decoding first grade      smallgroupdecoding


Here are some intervention resources with their grade levels.  This list is from UNE EDU 744 course:

Read 180 (3-12)

Read Naturally (K-6)

Accelerated Reader (Pre-K-12)

Leveled Literacy Intervention Kits by Fountas and Pinnell (K-2)

Fountas and Pinnell Phonics (K-2)

Fountas and Pinnell Word Study (3)

Reading Plus (2-college)

Discover Intensive Phonics (K-3)

Action 100 (K-8)

System 44 (3-12)

Expert 21 (6-9)

Success Maker (K-8)

Reading Apprenticeship (middle school-college)

Early Intervention in Reading (K-4)

Stepping Stones to Literacy  (Pre-K-K)

Earobics (Pre-K-3)

Ladders to Literacy (Pre-K-K)

DaisyQuest (ages 3-7)

Waterford Early Reading Program (K-2)

Kaplan Spell Read (2-up)

Lindamood Phonemic Sequencing (K-up)

Wilson Reading System (2-up)

Success for All (Pre-K-8)

Lexia Reading (K-3)

Voyager Universal Literacy System (K-3)

Corrective Reading (3-up)

Read, Write, & Type (ages 6-9)

Failure Free Reading (K-12)

Cooperative Integrated Reading and Composition (2-8)

Fluency Formula (1-6)

Intervention Websites
If you visit the What Works Clearinghouse ( there is an interactive tool which allows you to choose your grade level (range) and literacy topic (ex. reading comprehension) and many of these programs will appear in chart form.  You can then click on the name of the intervention program in order to read the related research.  To get more information on the programs, try entering the program name into a search engine to find the publisher's website (UNE EDU 744, Summer 2016). 
Some other Helpful Websites: This website lists many academic interventions that are research-based interventions.  They are not purchased programs.  They are simply academic interventions that have research to support them. This site also lists research-based approaches to instruction.  Click on "Reading" then on the appropriate grade level tab (UNE EDU 744, Summer 2016).




Allington, Richard L. What Really Matters for Struggling Readers: Designing Research-based Programs, 3rd Edition. New York: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Araujo, Judith E., M.Ed., CAGS. "Meeting Students’ Literacy Challenges." Mrs. Judy Araujo, Reading Specialist. N.p., 25 Apr. 2016. Web. <>.

Graphics from Google Images.  Right click on them.200w

I am happy to share my pages, but please cite me as you would expect your students to cite their sources.  Copyscape alerts me to duplicate content. Please respect my work.


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