Strength for Struggling Readers - Addressing Adolescent Literacy
Too many students today struggle with their reading skills making adolescent literacy a major concern for our society. One out of every four children grows up without knowing how to read. Why? Most of these students slide through the cracks of the system, find themselves in a class that is unproductive to their deficiencies, or drop out altogether.In a demanding lesson system, most teachers don't have the time or resources necessary to spend even five minutes with each student individually on their reading skills. Fifty-four (54) percent of all teachers have limited English proficient (LEP) students in their classrooms, yet only one-fifth of teachers feel prepared to help them. The educational careers of 25 to 40 percent of American children are imperiled because they don't read well enough, quickly enough, or easily enough.According to the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 37 percent of fourth-graders, and 26 percent of eighth-graders can't read at a basic level or understand what they've just read. Forty-four (44) percent of American 4th grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud in supportive testing conditions.These at-risk students statistically end up with high dropout rates from high school, behavior problems, high pregnancy rates, high truancy rates, high criminal rates, and a life destined for low incomes. Is it a testament that seven in ten prisoners perform at the lowest literacy rates? Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three to four times more likely to drop out in later years. Approximately 50 percent of the nation's unemployed youth, ages 16-21, are functionally illiterate and have virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs. More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage.Would simple reading intervention change the course of a students' potential life? That would be an unquestionable and unequivocal – yes.No matter what situation you find yourself in as a concerned parent, teacher, or tutor, you have to find a reading intervention program that is proven to help your child or student to not only read, but completely comprehend what they're reading. Their lives literally depend on it.
How Do You Change Your At-Risk Student's Reading Life?
With the all too available and accessible distractions of television and video games combined with the pull of peers, reaching the struggling reader can be a seemingly insurmountable task. Nevertheless, some kind of reading intervention is essential to steer your student or your child into a successful reading life and away from becoming another at-risk literacy statistic.Programs designed to help promote adolescent literacy number in the dozens. How do you know which one is going will help your student and make it stick? Successful programs build vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension together as a unit. Just understanding how letters go together isn't enough. Students should be able to understand what they're reading. They should be able to build their vocabulary and look forward to adding words into their reading and speaking vault. There are almost half a million words in our English Language - the largest language on earth, incidentally - but a third of all our writing consists of only twenty-two words.Dr. Ted S. Hasselbring, Professor of Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and developer of Read 180, has pioneered programs that focus exclusively on at-risk student reading failures. His extensive studies on learning and technology have inspired programs, like Read 180, to concentrate on interactive instruction. Dr. Hasselbring's research led him to develop technology-based instruction that channels learning with computer and direct teacher interaction. Emphasizing the combination of phonics, vocabulary, fluency, phonemic awareness, and comprehension, struggling students become successful and confident readers. Over one million students have used his programs based on these techniques.
Understanding Reading Intervention
There are many causes for your student's declining literacy ability. Reading disorder, dyslexia, learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, language processing disorders, frustration, disinterest caused by frustration, and in some cases simple peer pressure. Fourteen percent of all individuals have a learning disability.Assessing the cause of a student's reading hurdle is the first step to helping them overcome that hurdle. After that, gauging the reading level of your student to establish a starting point is necessary. They must be allowed to progress rather than subjecting them to lessons they've already mastered. The last thing a struggling student wants or needs is to go over elements they understand. They are usually frustrated enough.Evaluating programs for your struggling readers should consist of most, if not all, of Dr. Hasselbring's principle fundamentals for a happy and successful outcome. Again, those principle elements combine phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. If they are at the beginning of their reading skills, they should get a solid feel for phonics - how sounds and letters work together, what they look like, what they do, and understand and identify phonemes. They should start putting those words into context relating them to actions, pictures, and other words. How they are alike. How they are different. Developing vocabulary evolves from putting those sounds and letters to work as words. How those basic elements fit into a sentence. How to take words, fit them into sentences, and substitute other words so the sentence remains relevant. Finally, how that sentence connects to a story, a picture, their lives. Conversely, teaching your student how a story relates to the sentence brings about another level of retention and understanding. When students watch a movie or listen to a story, they listen and watch, but mostly listen. Can they learn to listen while they read? Being able to visualize and relate words to pictures and sounds enhance their reading skills to a whole new level.
One More Element To Insure Your Struggling Reader's Attention
Back to television and video games and the new century. Technology has become one of the most important mediums and media-producing factors in our society. That is now true all over the world. It creates a kind of paradox for your at-risk student.On one hand, most technology is so user-friendly that a basic understanding of letters and pictures is enough to finagle through it. Your struggling reader may be at odds as to why exactly he or she really needs to be literate. On the other, technology has become so integral to so many operations, even the most basic chores require being able to maneuver through language. This other hand hasn’t changed all that much even with the onslaught of technology. Being able to read a newspaper, a contract, a webpage, a product description, a bank statement, and the like, is so vital to navigate through life. Nearly half of America's adults can't carry out simply tasks like balance check books, read the label on their prescription medicine, or write essays for a job.Interaction combined with entertainment is key to keeping your student's attention. Why? Everything is competing for your student's attention. When a cell phone or a watch can provide more stimulating things to do than a boring white page with stuff written on it, you've got to give them more. You have to show them that the boring white page provides a massive world of entertainment that their cell phone can't hold a candle to. By actively engaging them in not only sounds and letters of the English language, but actively recognizing what they're reading and understanding what they've read will spur them into the reading world with interest and gusto. With the ever-present television, video games, all the new and cool technology, and the pull of peers, learning a subject that has become the equivalent of a toxic disease for the struggling reader better entertain and perform. Entertainment combined with success creates happiness. Happiness with learning is outstanding. Is it learning entertaining? It should be.Reading is essential, especially as we continue hurtling into the 21st century. Technology is injecting itself into every aspect of our lives and we, as a society, will soon not be able to maneuver our way around it. Statistics predict that to participate fully in society and the workplace in 2020, citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that have currently been achieved by a small percentage of the population. Being able to read and digest the written word and all that will be expected and perhaps, demanded of us and especially our children, today's student's need the best preparation and every tool possible.Twenty-one (21) million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas. Forty-four (44) million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child.Don’t allow your child or children to continue struggling. Illiteracy in America is a growing and disastrous dilemma. Without the ability to read and comprehend, a child's future is severely limited. Whether you've tried other venues or not, find the excellent fundamental reading program that will take your student to a level you didn't think possible. That program should be able to engrain the basics of letters and sounds (phonics). It should take those basics and expand them into understanding and absorption. It should entertain enough to inspire an appetite for reading and learning. Finally, it should be able to carry your child into the future.
Reading Programs and more info
- Reading Intervention
Dr. Ted Hasselbring's Premier Reading Intervention Program, used for over 10 years with proven success in reading achievements.
- Foundational Reading Program
A Reading program made for the most challenged readers Ages 3-12
- Education Statistics
The U.S. Department of Education's national assessment of adult literacy
- Educational Cyber Playground
An organization devoted to improving literacy through arts education and advocacy through interdisciplinary resources like speech and music.
- National Center for Family Literacy
Organization devoted to creating a literate nation through the family.
- Reading Disorders
Encyclopedic resource for mental disorders and disabilities
- National Coalition of Girls Schools
Leading advocate for girls' education.