MAT Blog

Teach Beginning Readers Genre With This Free, Interactive Map

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 21, 2014 3:28:00 PM

One of the best ways to help beginning readers discover books they’ll love is by teaching them about genre. Thanks to the folks over at Book Country, your students can learn all about different genres—mystery, fantasy, romance, science fiction, thriller, and other subgenres—by clicking their way around an interactive map.

The map covers over 60 categories and also connects users to popular books in each genre. Click here or on the image below to try it out.

beginning readers



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Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers, collaborative learning

5 Ways to Help Struggling Readers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 17, 2014 9:22:00 AM

struggling readers

Use the Web to find texts they want to read

In the past, finding books that piqued our struggling readers’ interest was challenging, but with the help of websites like Bookwink, Whichbook, Shelfari, Your Next Read and BookLamp.org, finding good books has never been easier. Use these sites, and show your students how to use them, too.  

Pair struggling readers with younger readers

Even when we give our students their choice of reading materials, many struggling readers continue to choose books that are too difficult for them. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Most sixth grade students don’t want to be caught with the Magic Tree House books when their friends are reading the Divergent series.

Pairing these students with younger readers is a simple solution to this. The “indignities” associated with “babyish” books are no longer an issue when we pair our struggling readers with younger readers and have them read aloud to them.

Find creative ways to create independent reading time

If you timed it out, we bet you’d be surprised by how much of the day is squandered on interruptions—you know, special deliveries, messages, forgotten lunches, notes, or quick questions from other teachers. Train your students to always have a book out on their desk. When an interruption occurs—and they will occur—students should immediately begin reading.

Here’s another idea: When students finish their work early, skip the extra dittos and busy work; instead, allow them to read silently until their peers are all finished.

Take Phonics instruction beyond “sounding it out”
Encountering big words can be daunting for the struggling reader. Relying solely on teaching readers to “sound out” letters can prevent growth and lead to frustration, especially when encountering words with many syllables or words that don’t follow the standard rules. Teach readers to break words down into chunks – called “chunking” or “reading by analogy.”

Handle struggling readers with care

We have best intentions when we say, “Stop and reread this sentence,” or “Can you read a little bit faster?” but we should really avoid this type of coaching. To learn how to handle your struggling readers with care, check out a video by Amy Mascott called, “What Not to Say to Emerging Readers.”

 

 

 

download click and clunk

 

 

 

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

Click and Clunk: A 5-Step Reading Strategy for Students

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 19, 2014 11:53:00 AM

If you’re looking to equip your struggling upper-elementary and middle school readers with a simple reading strategy that will teach them to monitor and take charge of their own understanding, check out our newest infographic, Click and Clunk: A 5-Step Reading Strategy for Students.

To download our infographic, click here or on the image below.

reading comprehension



Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers, click and clunk

BookLamp Connects Students to Books They’ll Love

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM

reading comprehensionThere are lots of useful book recommendation websites, but out of all of them, BookLamp.org takes the cake.  

Using a computer-based analysis of written DNA, BookLamp helps connect readers to books they’ll love.

I could try to explain the specifics of how the site works, but I think BookLamp does it better than I can:

To start, BookLamp does not categorize or label books, as you would expect in genre or BISAC codes, nor do so through human or community tagging.  Instead we do the exact opposite: We ignore genre and super-classifications and instead only pay attention to the page-by-page components that the author combined to make up the book.  We don’t look at what category the book is in, but instead the DNA elements that are in the book, and how that makes one book similar to another regardless of what shelf it sits on in the library or bookstore.

Unlike, say, Amazon.com or YourNextRead, BookLamp's engine isn't influenced by advertising or popularity bias. New and niche authors are not ignored, and revered authors are not promoted simply based upon their popularity. To put it simply, BookLamp has no agenda other than connecting readers to texts that they’ll love!

Just to see how BookLamp works, I searched for an old favorite, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Here’s what BookLamp came up with:

reading comprehension 2

 

 

 

Guide to Reading Comprehension

 


Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

How to Encourage Reluctant and Struggling Readers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 11, 2014 2:14:00 PM

struggling readersDecades later, I can still remember things my teachers said, how they said them, even the intonation of their phrases, and how their words made me feel.

In the scheme of life, it’s hard to say how these fleeting moments of encouragement—or derision—shaped my life, but I do know that words are a powerful tool, one we can use to either build up our students or tear them down.

Since we’re well into National Reading Month, I’d like to share a few tips for talking to your reluctant and struggling readers.

“If you keep this up, you’ll be reading at X level by next month!”
This seems like something we should say to struggling readers, doesn’t it? Not so fast. While you should be realistic about your students’ abilities, avoid hampering their progress by setting an unrealistic—or too-easily attainable—benchmark.

Instead, simply let your students know that you believe in them and that you are certain their hard work will pay off. 

“Read faster!”
Why are we always in such a hurry? Slow down and allow your reluctant readers to set their own pace, even if it means they “fall behind.” They may be slower than their peers, but one thing is sure: pushing them to read faster isn’t going to help build their confidence, their comprehension, or their enthusiasm for reading.  

"I understand that you don’t like the book—but that's the assignment."
Sometimes a little tough love is a good thing, but before you take off the kid gloves, ask the student why he or she isn’t enjoying the book.

Asking your students this question may provide insight into their interests and reading abilities. You may, for example, discover that the vocabulary is too challenging in one book, or that some students prefer non-fiction over fiction books. Armed with this information, you can make accommodations and help students select more suitable texts.

If this doesn’t work, show the student this video:


"Everyone else is reading silently—please stop talking.”

It can be frustrating and distracting when students talk during silent or quiet reading time, but instead of immediately scolding students, make sure that you know why they are talking. I’ve often found that the talkers are actually chatting to each other about the books they are reading. That’s a good thing!

If this becomes a distraction, you might allow students to use a stress ball or fidget—or give them the option of listening to an audiobook.

“Stop! Reread that line, please.”
As a general rule, we avoid stopping students if the mistake doesn’t interfere with the meaning of the text. For example, if a student mistakenly swaps out "a" for "an" or "fine" for "fun, we let it go, especially if this is the first time a student is reading the text.

 

Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

5 Reasons Reluctant Readers are Reluctant

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Feb 26, 2014 9:58:00 AM

reluctant readersThey respond to texts differently than you do
One of the most exhilarating things about teaching reading and discussing texts is that they can be viewed through a variety of lenses. Texts, like language, are malleable: they mean different things to different people.

There are too many students who share this experience: At the teacher’s request, students prepare a response or opinion piece on a book, but receive low marks because they did not give the “right opinion.” If you’re asking for an opinion piece, hold up your end of the bargain and accept it for what it is. Reward students for their efforts, allow them to revise their work, and help them develop their ideas.

They can’t read as fast as their peers
Why are we always in such a hurry? Slow down and allow your reluctant readers to set their own pace, even if it means they “fall behind.” They may be slower than their peers, but one thing is for sure: pushing them to read faster isn’t going to help build their confidence, their comprehension or their enthusiasm for reading.  

They are anxious about reading aloud
Students are often asked to read aloud; less often are they given the opportunity to silently read the text first. This might be worth reconsidering.

If you’ve ever agreed to read publicly, chances are that you requested the opportunity to review the text before you stood in front of an audience. Why? Because you didn’t want to stumble over words or make silly mistakes. Naturally, our students feel the same. Most real-world reading happens silently, so doesn’t it make sense to allow our students the opportunity to read silently before shining the spotlight on them?  

They are preoccupied by “The Test”
You may not be able to completely abandon the multiple-choice test, but when given the chance, allow students to respond to what they’re reading. With your guidance you can help readers make connections and actually discover themselves in a text. Instead of posing questions that have predetermined answers, try some of the following:

  • What about this really excites (or bothers, or puzzles, or challenges) me about this book?
  • Should the character(s) have done something different? Why or why not?
  • What would I have done in this situation and why?
  • What caused this situation?
  • What are the consequences?
  • What does this have to do with my life?
  • Do you see any similarities between this book and any of the others you’ve been reading?

They read texts that adults don’t value
We’ve been using the phrase “reluctant readers,” but the fact of the matter is that we don’t really believe any of our students are reluctant about reading.

All of our students read—they read all the time, in fact. If you need proof, give something a try: Ask your students if they text. Ask them if they update their Facebook pages or write on their friends’ walls. Do they like gossip magazines, comic books, blogs, and foreign films? We bet they do.

If we want our “reluctant readers” to shed their reluctance, we must acknowledge that their “texts”—no matter how low-brow we consider them—are legitimate forms of reading.

Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers, reluctant readers

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