Boosting Reading Success

By Schirmer, Barbara R. | Teaching Exceptional Children, September/October 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Boosting Reading Success


Schirmer, Barbara R., Teaching Exceptional Children


Language, Literacy, and Content Area Instruction for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students-and Bilingual Students, and Students Learning English as a Second Language, and Everyone Else Who Needs a Little Help

Here is the story of Linda and Ben. Linda is a fourth-grade teacher, and Ben is one of 28 children in her class. Linda has taken advantage of abundant research on strategies for teaching reading comprehension; Ben, who is profoundly deaf, has particularly benefited-as have all the diverse learners in Linda's class.

The fact is that we know how to help children achieve success in reading. Research from the 1960s to the present has provided teacher-tested, proven strategies that can be tailored to any child, any class. The names of some of these strategies may sound daunting, such as Concept-Text-Application, Semantic Maps, and Directed Reading Thinking Activity. Many of them, such as K-W-L (What I Know, What I Want to Learn, and What I Learned) (Ogle, 1986) are a result of an explosion of reading research in the 1980s and are old friends to many teachers and students. (See Samuels & Farstrup, 1992; Schirmer, 1994; Zakaluk & Samuels, 1988 for other reading resources.)

No teaching strategy can enable children to understand all text material, regardless of the level of the material (see box, "Factors Contributing to Text Readability"); but teachers may use various strategies to provide children support in comprehending material that would appear to be considerably beyond their reading levels. These strategies can be used just as effectively by general education teachers with classrooms of diverse learners as by special education teachers with small, self-contained classrooms of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Teaching Strategies That Enhance Comprehension

For the purposes of discussion, let's consider two models of instructional strategies. Both models offer substantial support for reading content-area text material. One model requires that the teacher devote class time to reading the material, and the other model requires that the students read the material independently. Linda used both in her fourthgrade class.

In-Class Text Reading

Linda used a variety of strategies for inclass reading. She found that when she developed a theme, such as "govern- ment," many of the strategies made sense as she guided her students through the steps indicated here. As mentioned previously, Ben, a profoundly deaf child, was one of her students. Ben is also assisted throughout the day by a sign language interpreter and bimonthly by a consultant teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Some of the strategies Linda used were the Guided Reading Procedure, ConceptText-Application, K-W-L, Directed Reading Activity, and Directed Reading Thinking Activity. The latter two strategies are usually used with narrative text but have been found to work effectively with expository text (Alvermann & Swafford, 1989).

Step 1. Activating and Building Background Knowledge. Because Linda was theming her instruction, she did not have to incorporate extensive background-building activities-she was presenting and reinforcing a common set of concepts within each of the subject areas. The consultant teacher had explained to Linda that deaf children like Ben typically miss much incidental information and, therefore, often have fragments of knowledge about any given topic (see box, "Language Learning"). In building background knowledge, Linda tried to expand on the knowledge that Ben-and other children-already had and to draw the connections between bodies of knowledge.

When Linda began the 4-week theme on government, she engaged the children in a discussion about rules at school and at home and asked them to figure out the criteria of workable rules (e.g., clear, easy to understand, realistic, can be obeyed without breaking another rule, can be enforced). Knowing that deaf and hard-of-hearing children benefit from visual representation of concepts, Linda used this discussion and the subsequent presentation about laws to begin a semantic map representing important concepts that would be incorporated throughout the theme on government.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Boosting Reading Success
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?