Five Effective Practices For Teaching Reading

What works when you teach reading? These five teaching practices have been shown effective by reading researchers. Some are for beginning readers, some for older readers, and some for readers of all ages.

  1. Provide opportunities for success Keep it low-risk so kids aren’t afraid to stretch themselves. Instead of asking them for the “right” answer, ask them for a thoughtful answer. Remember, we’re focusing on helping kids build meaning, not on correctness.
  2. Give kids choice in what they read Do you read for pleasure? If so do you choose your own texts, or do you let someone else choose them? If we want kids to have a lifelong love of reading, we need to give them practice at choosing texts that interest them — just as adults do!
  3. Balance challenging texts with easier ones If every text is hard, then reading becomes a slog, and for struggling readers slog = disengagement. Close reading and rereading can be an adventure, not a slog.

Support readers before, during, and after reading

Frontload comprehension strategies before reading, monitor students’ understanding during reading, then provide time for students to savor their reading and connect it to other experiences.

Ditch the workbooks and skill sheets

No one enjoys these, and if we’re honest with ourselves, they don’t do much good. Actually, they may do harm because they displace precious minutes in the classroom. Replace them with authentic activities such as book journaling, book talks, book groups, or simply more reading time.

Details on these powerful practices can be found in: Best Practice, Fourth Edition (2012); Comprehension & Collaboration (2015), Revised Edition;  Comprehension Going Forward (2011)

Did you find this helpful? These tips and more can be found at the Heinemann blog.