Reading develops a child’s imagination, improves concentration, builds vocabulary, and promotes creativity and critical thinking. Reading expands the mind, helping create healthy brains, while opening the doorway of access to all information. It’s safe to say that reading is a life-changing skill of powerful importance. That’s why helping all students become successful readers is crucial, and why educators must be constantly on the lookout to identify striving students.
Sheila Clark-Edmands, a S.P.I.R.E. author, worked in literacy education for more than three decades before she compiled her list of the ten essential components to a successful literacy curriculum. Be sure to check out her informative essay to learn more about meeting the needs of striving readers with a consistent, systematic approach. We’ve summarized the ten components here to give you a breakdown of what each component includes, along with some helpful tips you can apply in your school or district.
A Systematic Approach to Creating Successful Readers
1. Is It Important to Identify Striving Students Early?
Before they even start to experience reading struggles, students who need help should be identified as early as kindergarten so they can benefit from direct educational programming and support.
Tip: The focus should be on intervention and prevention. Earlier identification and reaction processes help improve outcomes sooner.
2. Is Daily Training in Auditory and Oral Skills Necessary?
Specific, direct phonemic training in auditory and oral skills should be included every day. Readers at every level benefit from phonemic instruction and practice.
- Use real words and familiar concepts.
- Try activities in a range of contexts to help students learn.
- Practice phonemic awareness in engaging ways like rhyming games or identifying and substituting sounds in words and syllables.
3. Should Students Practice Kinesthetic Speech Sounds?
Be sure to prioritize regular practice of kinesthetic speech sounds (how a student physically produces speech sounds). Experiencing language in tactile ways supports learning for all types of readers, not just kinesthetic learners. Focus these speech activities on the production of clear, correctly articulated sounds. As it turns out, accurate articulation correlates to a student’s future reading and writing success.
Tip: Try including articulation as an aspect of any other game. Just add the proper articulation of a sound or word to whatever you’re doing in the game or activity. For example, the rules for playing tag could include properly articulating the person’s name with the words “Tag: Chris, you’re it!”
4. Which Teaching Methods Support Decoding and Encoding?
Multisensory teaching techniques can help students with decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) words. Along with explicit instruction, students practice hearing, seeing, and writing letter sounds, words, and syllables.
Tip: Word games and toys can act as an ideal support for direction instruction.
5. Should Concepts Be Introduced in Any Order?
Language acquisition is a process. That’s why early intervention programs require phonetic concepts to be introduced in a specific order. Early readers should focus first on learning simple, single-consonant sounds and one-syllable words.
Tip: Rather than nonsense sounds, using real words for instruction makes lessons relevant and memorable for young students.
6. Should Teachers Focus on Assigning Comprehensible Texts?
If your goal is for students to gain fluency, be sure you’re utilizing texts made of phonetic concepts students already know. When students practice with comprehensible text, they’re better enabled to effectively build fluency skills because their mental energies aren’t focused on decoding.
Tip: Fluency depends on reading words in context. It is important to ensure students aren’t just reading words in isolation, but also within texts.
7. Is Handwriting Instruction Useful for Motor Memory?
Reading and writing concepts need kinesthetic reinforcement. One of the best ways to achieve that powerful connection is handwriting instruction. The daily practice of handwriting, whether words and sentences or individual letters, strengthens concepts and aids motor memory through movement.
Tip: Try fun handwriting activities like air writing with their whole arms, painting letters with textured glue, writing in the sand, or making letters or words out of clay, pipe cleaners, or Legos.
8. Is Spelling Helpful for Reading Acquisition?
Spelling instruction helps students link speech sounds with visual symbols. Teach composition and grammar concepts along with spelling to produce successful readers and writers.
Tip: In young readers, spelling practice tends to help reading more than reading helps spelling. Focus on explicit spelling instruction and you should notice reading gains.
9. Are Students Supported by Materials Within the Scope of Learning?
Any additional practice with writing and reading concepts should stay within the instructional scope and skills already taught. When students can read and understand the materials, they experience success instead of becoming discouraged.
Tip: Motivation is the key to reading success. Students should feel good about reading and should recognize almost all of the words and concepts without any help.
10. Do Striving Students Need Plenty of Time?
Students who aren’t given sufficient time to fully comprehend and practice new concepts will continue to struggle. Striving students may require several times the amount of exposure to learn new concepts.
Tip: Help students talk about what they’re reading. Verbal processing helps students comprehend and remember what they’ve read. Ask students questions throughout the reading process to encourage comprehension, from “Why do you this this book will be interesting?” before reading to “What’s happening and what do you think will happen next?” while reading to “What did you like about that book?” afterwards.
S.P.I.R.E. Intensive Reading Intervention for Striving Readers
For most educators, the goal is to help striving students succeed while leading all students to improve their performance. Looking for the best ways to achieve this goal? The research-proven S.P.I.R.E. program dramatically increases students’ reading skills. Flexible implementation and consistent 10-step lessons work together to help students learn, grow, improve their abilities, and expand their horizons.