What Do Good Readers Do When They Read: Skills for Struggling Readers
Your students sit quietly and stare at the pages, but when they get to answering the questions, taking the test, discussing or writing about what they’ve read, you discover that they haven’t retained anything that was on the page.
The students are reading but not reading. Good readers naturally do several things as they read to help them make sense of the information and retain what they read. Most students need to be taught these skills (and they can be taught) just like they were taught sight words and phonics when they learned to read the words on the page.
So…what do good readers do?
If you ask your students what good readers do, chances are they’ll tell you something like the following:
- They read fast
- The know all the words
- The read a lot
- They just get it
Students don’t realize the skills good readers employ as they read. Good readers engage in several mental activities as they read.
- Activate Prior Knowledge: Using what a reader already knows about a topic or text structure to connect to new knowledge.
- Picturing/Visualizing: Creating a mental picture as you read. It is based on sensory information in the text
- Predicting: Using clues in the text to make an educated guess as to what’s coming next.
- Connecting/Reacting: when a reader makes connections between his or her life or world or between this text and other texts. Reacting is when a reader has an emotional response to what he/she has read.
- Clarifying: when a reader restates the ideas in the text in their own words.
- Asking Questions: when a reader wonders about something in the text.
- Identifying Problems: good readers know when they are struggling and their understanding is challenged. An example of this is stopping at an unfamiliar word.
- Using Fix-Ups: when a reader uses a strategy to get through a problem spot. This includes rereading, asking questions, or using context clues to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words.
Note: I am working on hubs that give examples of specific strategies for teaching these good reader skills. I will link them below when they become available.
Specific Strategies for Teaching Good Reader Skills
- Graphic Organizers Focus Reading
The purpose of reading in a classroom is often to gain information from the text. To aid students in doing this, teachers can ask students to use graphic organizers to think and write about their thought processes as they...
- Activating Prior Knowledge
This describes activities that teachers can use to activate prior knowledge before students read a text. Also includes some pre-reading predicting strategies.
What about the good readers?
Most good readers don’t even realize they are doing this. Teachers may have to point out to good readers what they do. Also, strong readers can employ skills and strategies to slow down their reading and analyze and process on a deeper level. This will help them retain information and be able to use it for higher-level thinking activities.
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