Reading Skills for Struggling Readers

Learning to read is a complex task and some children struggle to become successful readers.  The research and instructional literature has told us that Grade 3 is a critical benchmark for determining whether kids will become successful readers.  That literature has also told us that kids must master a range of skills: phonological awareness, phonics/decoding, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.  On my T.A.L.K. blog ( http://frantoomeytalk.blogspot.com/ ) I have focused on age 3 to grade 3 language/literacy development, especially for kids who have learning challenges.

Over the next few months, I will focus here on the reading/literacy skills kids need and CAN develop in grades 4-8.  I will begin with comprehension, then address vocabulary, and then fluency.  In those blogs I will consider the role of oral language and writing/spelling as well as reading.

I am going to use an ABC’s format.

A for About.  Offering an  annotated bibliography of research and literature from expert researchers/practitioners, I’ll highlight those authors who have influenced my work and/or have widespread acknowledgement as experts.

B for Begin. Using those annotated sources, I’ll highlight ones that offer a place for teachers, special educators and parents to begin an instructional process.

C for Commitment.  Using A and B sources, I’ll map out a substantial teaching  sequence for some of those sources, with goals and objectives, instructional ideas and ….tools for progress monitoring.

 

Parent-Teacher Communication Challenges

A child’s teacher has a significant impact of that child’s life….at every grade.  It is so important for both teacher and parent to work at meaningful communication.  I believe that both teachers and parents have good intentions.  Here is an example of a conversation that we can learn from:

Parent-Teacher Communication from Understood

What Having the “Wrong” Teacher Taught Me About My Son With ADHD

My Parent Journey blog post by ToughTopics
Aug 11, 2016

“I also learned how important it was to communicate with the teacher early and often. I tried to arrange a meeting for the first week of school so I could explain my son’s challenges and strengths. Once, a teacher who didn’t seem like a good fit turned out to be great for my son once we really started talking…”

Get tips on how to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher. Use these sentence starters to help kick off the conversation. And read expert advice on changing teachers during the school year.

Being Open to Learning is Harder Than It Appears

There is a volume of information about carrying on meaningful conversations, especially about change. In the last posting I mentioned Grice’s Maxims which specify 4 qualities of conversation (from:

https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html )

  1. The maxim of quantity, where one tries to be as informative as one possibly can, and gives as much information as is needed, and no more.
  2. The maxim of quality, where one tries to be truthful, and does not give information that is false or that is not supported by evidence.
  3. The maxim of relation, where one tries to be relevant, and says things that are pertinent to the discussion.
  4. The maxim of manner, when one tries to be as clear, as brief, and as orderly as one can in what one says, and where one avoids obscurity and ambiguity

This appears to be fairly straightforward but, in my experience, not a simple task.

Looking at the work of Robinson, I think we get a more realistic orientation to the challenges of conversations that are open to learning, conversations in making changes.

Here is a quote from the author (Viviane M. J. Robinson) University of Auckland cautioning us that “Open to learning” conversations are not easy, even when an administrator is talking with a teacher:

The Key Components of an Open-to-learning Conversation. There are no rules or step-by-step guides to open-to-learning conversations. This is because the shifts from less open to more open-to-learning conversations are as much about changes in values and ways of thinking as they are about changes in communication skills. Hard and fast rules also do not work because good conversations are responsive to context and to the other person. Despite this, it is possible to identify some of the recurring components of open-to-learning conversations. Table 3 identifies some of these components and shows how a leader might use them in conversations about the quality of teaching.”….

Nevertheless, she lists 7 components (starting points?):

  1. Describe your concern as your point of view. I need to tell you about a possible concern I have about.. I think we may have different views… I realise this may not be how you see it….
  2. Describe what your concern is based on. The reason why I was concerned is..
  3. Invite the other’s point of view. Pause and look at the other person or say.. What do you think?
  4. Paraphrase their point of view and check. I got three important messages from that…Am I on the right track?
  5. Detect and check important assumptions… What leads you to believe that the children…
  6. Establish common ground. The common ground might be based…
  7. Make a plan to get what you both want. How would you like to learn more about….

There are several YouTube videos that provide examples.  For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV5KmINdTWY

 

 

An Approach to Being “Open to Learning”…for Educational Leaders

Leading Students to Success in School

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Open-to-learning_Conversations_Background_Paper_In%20(1).pdf

A few short excerpts that I hope will gain your interest and willingness to read and consider the whole 12 page document!  You may find it helpful to start with this 5 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

 

“The model of communication that informs this module is that of “Open-to-learning” conversations. At the heart of the model is the value of openness to learning – learning about the quality of the thinking and information that we use when making judgments about what is happening, why and what to do about it. An open-to-learning conversation, therefore, is one in which this value is evident in how people think and talk…. …Leaders may want to address what they see as a performance issue yet believe they can not do so without running an unacceptable risk of increased stress and conflict. In other words, they feel that they can not address the performance issues and maintain relationships with the staff member…”

“… The dilemma between concern for the person and for the task is irresolvable in both these examples,           doc4-cooperation                    because the leader leaves no room for a shared or co-constructed evaluation of the reading programme.

 

In the soft sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by failure to disclose her evaluation of the reading programme. In the hard sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by assuming the truth of her views. Neither strategy will produce the type of conversation that is necessary to reach a principled agreement about the quality of the programme and about whether change is needed….”

“When leaders seek to impose their views rather than invite debate and co-construction,

they face the dilemma of how to do so without creating negative emotional reactions. The key to resolving this dilemma is not, as we have seen, to hide one’s own views in the hope that the other party will express what the leader is reluctant to disclose….”

“Guiding Values Key Strategies

  1. Increase the Validity of Information • Information includes thoughts, opinions, reasoning, inferences and feelings
  • Disclose the reasoning that leads to your views
  • Provide examples and illustrations of your views • Treat own views as hypotheses rather than taken for granted truths
  • Seek feedback and disconfirmation
  1. Increase Respect • Treat others as well intentioned, as interested in learning and as capable of contributing to your own….
  2. Increase Commitment • Foster ownership of decisions through transparent and shared processes,,,,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in School

Up to this time, this blog has focused on language development and use by children.  The idea was to focus on the ways in which children do and can develop the language skills that help them to be successful learners.  There is a wealth of information “out there” as well an on this blog about ways to do this.

It is time for a new focus: the communication of adults that impacts children’s success in school and beyond.  Teachers and parents talk about children and their success or lack of success in school, administrators and teachers talk about children, special educators and teachers talk about children.  Support staff members and “outside” experts “communicate” about children and their success or lack of success in school.  What do we know about how these “stakeholders” (is that the correct term?) talk to each/one another about children’s success in school?  How much of their conversations address the reasons for children’s success or lack of success and what each adult does/can do to ensure that success.

I am going to start with a very brief video (4+ minutes) featuring an expert on adult communication about children’s success in school.  I “found” this video when I googled the topic “open to learning.”  Here is my starting point: exploring what this well respected expert has to say.  More to follow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_l5-HKIR1s

Here is a follow-up video with more detail about “Open to learning communication.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

Too Important to Wait: Words and Complex Texts

I have been very busy with two projects (The Achievement Gap workshop for Early Educators) and Meeting the needs of students with Dyslexia) and have had to neglect this blog.  But, in the process of these two commitments, I have been collecting many new resources.  I couldn’t wait to share this one:


  • Text Complexity
    A short webinar on the relationship between a text’s word frequency number and the Lexile number.

Presentation Slides with Audio

8 minutes, 45 seconds

The same content is available in text format in a new Frankly Freddy blog post:
Teaching Complex Text: Why Look at Word Frequency?

Learning to Read—Parents Can and Must Lead the Way—Starting Early!

Reading Rockets series on Empowering Parents (of children who struggle with learning to read): http://www.readingrockets.org/shows/launching/empowering Getting support for your struggling reader “If you have a child who is a struggling reader, your family is not alone. Learning to read is a challenge for almost 40 percent of kids, and an even bigger challenge for their parents. Empowering Parents, a PBS special hosted by Al Roker, visits schools in Huntingtown, Maryland, and Portland, Oregon, to see how families learn to identify early signs of reading problems and find ideas for getting their kids the help and support they need to succeed at reading.” This is a series of 2 to 8 minute videos on what parents can do to get their children the help they need in learning to read.

It highlights the success that happens when parents and teachers work together.

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