Salinger, Terry, Helping Older, Struggling Readers, Preventing School Failure, Winter 2003.
Much research has been done on increasing reading skills among young children, but very little on helping older readers. Due to the No Child Left Behind initiative, the focus on reading instruction and strategies has been targeted at students below third grade. In fourth grade the attention shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. This is a critical period of time and many students do not have the reading skills required to be successful in reading to learn. The author emphasizes in this article that merely reteaching the same strategies that children learned in earlier grades is not beneficial to them. Older students need new strategies because the old ones did not work. The five components of reading are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Older students have been exposed to each component but have not been able to piece the components together to become fluent readers. In order to be successful readers, the author offers many strategies to help older students. Some of these strategies include word sorts, focused language study, content area vocabulary instruction, modeled "think alouds," and emphasizing the reading writing connection.
I chose this article because the topic deals with a problem I face year after year. I am a fifth grade teacher and usually get about 2 or 3 students each year that are struggling readers. This is especially problematic because the focus of instruction is on expository texts and the children must be fluent readers in order to learn information in science and social studies. .
I was especially interested in the point the author made that by simply reteaching these students reading in the method they have grown accustomed to will not work. This seems obvious, but sometimes it is hard to reinvent new strategies.