Reading Strategies for the Struggling, the Gifted and Every Other Student

I have four students who read significantly below grade level, I realize they will need special attention. I will attempt to enlist the aid of their parents, of course, but the major reason these children face challenges is the absence of one or both parents. Bearing this in mind, I’ll need to devote roughly twice as much time to these students as compared to the rest of the class. As I’m determined to bring them up to reading and writing at the appropriate grade level, I’ll start by building their self confidence with reading assignment just below their current ability levels, giving me a chance to offer them large amounts of positive reinforcement.

As they demonstrate fluency at this less challenging level, they will realize that fluency is possible for them; they will be able to envision themselves succeeding, and impressing their teacher with their ability to read aloud. It is my belief that building on this affirmative attention, they will respond with increased enthusiasm. All but the most anti-social students desire to please their teachers and welcome positive feedback from them. A little additional attention and a modicum of caring can – and I sincerely hope will – do wonders for the children facing challenges in the classroom.

My gifted students will require far less face time, perhaps, but I’ve no intention of neglecting them. As they are largely independent – at least to the extent that a fourth grader can be largely independent – I’ll be setting the standards just outside of their comfort zone. My acknowledgement of their success will be measured not simply in the grades they will earn, but in the genuine pleasure they will elicit from me as they demonstrate their mastery of materials even they will initially feel to be difficult. Reading fluently at a level even they believed was beyond their (considerable) intellectual reach will give them no less a thrill than my challenged students will experience at reading at the appropriate grade level.

My students performing just above or below grade level will be challenged as well. I’ll offer them proof that if they just put forth the effort, they’ll feel the satisfaction that only comes with learning you’re better than you believed, that you can achieve more than you thought. Whether it’s a fourth grader reading fluently above their grade level or an astronaut waltzing across the lunar surface, isn’t that the dream of all humanity?

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