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Modifications in Reading

"Education should no longer be mostly imparting knowledge but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities." --Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori worked in her first school setting, the Orthophrenic School for retarded children in Rome, in 1898 - one century ago. She developed manipulative materials to stimulate and ultimately educate retarded children. In 1907 she opened her first case dei bambini (children's house) in the San Lorenzo tenements in Rome, primarily serving impoverished youngsters. Her educational efforts were very successful and drew wide attention. In 1912 the first Montessori school in the United States was established in Tarrytown, NY


Maria Montessori focused on literacy, and ignored the common wisdom of the day about children. She taught youth who were considered unteachable and worked tirelessly to improve the condition of children. Without intending to do so, she provided a very different vision of what constituted the teaching role and what education should be about. Of course, Maria was not an educator, initially. She was a physician and an anthropologist. What these diverse fields offered her as preparation for her teaching role may have included a perspective on the importance of honoring the individual. Maria allowed children to teach themselves, and she did it in a rich milieu of kinesthetic opportunities. She also strongly espoused the notion that children were good, wanted to learn, and knew how to go about learning when offered the right opportunities and tools to move forward. She believed that children had an indomitable work ethic, that play was work, that working ceaselessly was connected to finding the right developmental place to begin, and that an individual student was the best and quite adequate informant of that point.

Child oriented classroom setting that specifically foster independence, the desire to learn and the ability to be responsible for self and actions typify Montessori ideals.

Maria came to believe these tenets were basic to teaching success::

Every child is treated with respect and as an individual.

Every child is given the freedom to learn and progress within the limits of a carefully structured environment.

Every child is encouraged to develop naturally at his or her own pace.

Curriculum, lessons and strategies for learning are structured to recognize and meet individual development needs.

These approaches were controversial when first discussed, and after years of so-called "reading wars" we still have strong and varying opinions about how and when to teach reading in the most productive manner..

Do we go from the global idea, more of a "Whole language" perspective, like that established by Ashton-Warner (1905-1984) in her efforts to teach Maori children to read, and now carried forward as a strong tradition in American schools? Additional reading 1 .

Do we come from the bits and pieces, nuts and bolts approach, teaching phonics, phonemes, parts of speech, drill and repetition?

Do we focus on motivation and emotion, or stick with a scientific, no-nonsense set of steps to acquire literacy skills?

Do we use a more hands on approach, like the ideas proposed by John Dewey (1859-1952), an American philosopher and educator who focused on learning-by-doing rather than rote instruction and drill.?

John Dewey

How do we teach reading?

Top, down?

Bottom. up?

Puzzle pieces to big picture?

Big picture, broken down piece by piece?

Where does reading fit in the student's life for this year and as an ultimate destination?

What the youth can do this year

What the youth has inside him or her as potential reading ability

Short term goals: sound out new words, read stories orally with two or less errors, give a sequential account of the plot,spell accurately, increase vocabulary, comprehend passages. Long term or overarching goal - able to read newspapers, respond to correspondence, read for pleasure, comprehend at functional literacy level, communicate adequately in writing..

What is reading and how does it help a student? It is not just decoding words, spelling correctly, developing a complex vocabulary, answering comprehension questions, recognizing and using metaphors or passing exams. It is combining processes from visual codes, auditory pronunciation and expression of the word codes. context and social constructs to make meaning and thus communicate ideas, thoughts and feelings without the necessity for verbal exchange.

Reading allows us to have and share a thought - years in the future, hours from now, across the room with our friend and still seem attentive to the lecture. It means we can leave a personal story for future children, a series of ideas and philosophies on a computer, and have thousands of people access those ideas and thoughts and respond to them in kind, from 20 or 30 different locations simultaneously; or move on to the expressions and ideas of a host of others, all within the space of a day. What an extraordinary idea! It is embedded in human existence -- and in life skills. Successful independent living in our complex society is dependent upon having or achieving "functional literacy."

Can any other species read or write?

Reading is so much a part of our lives that we usually don't think about its value until we see someone who is missing this powerful communication aid -- can't read a letter, appreciate the sentiments in a greeting card, initiate and actively participate in email and computer chatting, doesn't know which counter to approach to get tickets, hasn't had that awesome feeling of reading and thus having a sense of partnership with a great book.

Reading has also been used as a political weapon. By keeping someone from the richness of thought that reading affords, we can keep people oppressed. By not sharing what others have learned, we shackle the mind.

To read is to have power . . . not allowing women to learn, depriving slaves access to reading materials or access to schools "kept them in their place." . In some eras, reading was considered a sinful pursuit for the common person. The invention of the printing press is one of the hallmarks in human history, for it made printed matter accessible to many rather than a few.

To read, is to have power.

To read is to be more fully human!

To read is to be able to make intimate friends with ideas, to create heroes and heroines and join them in battle; to use the mind like a palate.

To have access to the thoughts of great minds is to gain a share in those thoughts.

To read means being able to choose what you believe, what you will question, where you will focus your attention, who you will turn to for validation

What does reading look like? Ability to read involves acquisition of and intentional interaction among four interrelated processors that make meaning of symbols:

visual processing - seeing patterns of letters and making meaning with them

orthographic processing

auditory processing - taking speech and translating sounds into words and interpretations of words

phonological processing

word meaning processing - letters and sounds become activated as ideas

meaning processing

context processing - creating fluent meaning and interpretations of symbols from "words" and patterns of words

context processing

-adapted from Adams, 1990

Reading is complex -- extraordinarily involved, and we still have many unanswered questions about how and when we can best instruct others -- and we know of children who spontaneously initiate and master reading ability -- or work out the process on their own..

We know youngsters who have difficulty learning to read. Even if some or all of these processes are present, a student may not be able to connect them together in a consistent way, or on consecutive days. The following example describes a youngster named Melissa who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and tests with an IQ in the mildly delayed ranged. It may illustrate these points about reading readiness.


Melissa is now 17 years old. This last week she picked up a book for the first time and started reading it for pleasure. She has never picked up so much as a picture book on her own before.

Last week she wrote a letter to her pen pal. Her spelling was pretty good, but her ability to communicate her feelings was limited. This is a reproduction of the note: "Hi. My mane is Melissa. My name is Melissa Juanita Sam. I am 17 years old. I had my birthday last month. I had my birthday and I am 17. I am 17 and we ate cake. I like cake. I like to blow out candles. Are you 17? I am 17. Write back soon."

No matter how hard she tries, Melissa cannot seem to understand cause and effect in stories. I read her the story about the Gingerbread Boy. She can understand it and repeat it, but she does not know who ate the Gingerbread Boy until we get to the end. Every time I ask her, "Who ate the Gingerbread Boy," she makes several guesses, and by the end, when I say, "And then what happened?" She says, "Someone ate him?"

Melissa can tell you she lives in Arizona, but she does not understand whether it is a town or a state. We talk about it many times, but each time she can't remember if Baghdad is her town or her state. She does remember Baghdad and she can respond that she lives in Arizona, but the relationship escapes her. This comes up when she is filling out job applications, and when someone asks her where she lives. It makes learning geography and history an abstraction to her, since she cannot get the relationships involved -- and learning the names and places is still just memorization and retrieval.

Sometimes Melissa remembers to use capital letters and punctuation, but other times, she doesn't even seem to know that they are missing. Her use is inconsistent , yet sometimes she looks like she gets the idea very well. Maybe she capitalizes things that are important to her. Does she always capitalize her name? No, lately she does, but not with consistency.

Melissa has no sense of humor, at all. She can read a riddle, but cannot solve one, and when told the one liners, they do not seem funny and she does not seem to see the relationships. The other day I asked her the old classic, "Why is the chef mean? "Because he whips the cream and beats the eggs." Our discussion of what it meant, what a chef was, why anyone beats eggs, when someone whips cream, made the riddle painful. Next week I will try the one about one wall saying to the other one , "Meet you at the corner." I bet she will ask me when walls get to talk.

Melissa has a knack for spelling. For almost every word, she seems to be able to spit out the letters, and she is almost always right. Everyone in our family asks her for the spelling of a word at one time or another. It seems funny that she is so good at it. During her first five years of school, one of the teachers worked incessantly with her on phonics. When she can't remember to capitalize, it seems funny that she can remember how to spell infallibly. (Yes, she can spell that one).

It is such a surprise to see Melissa wanting to read on her own after all these year. I am excited that it is never too late! I can see that she is finally ready to learn, but the high school is not going to be teaching a senior such basic skills as part of the curriculum. I think that is why it is so appropriate to refer to retardation as developmental delay. She is now at the place that most second graders reach -- excited about books, emerging ability to imagine characters, ability to focus long enough to do the work reading requires. Melissa, after all, may someday be functionally literate if we keep the doors open to learning. Even now, in limited ways, she has literacy skills, but she also has major blank places in the midst of skills.

What do the experts think reading is all about?

Literacy unites the important skills of reading and writing. It also involves speaking and listening which, although they are not separately identified, are an essential part of reading.

Read some of the following links to establish a personal definition. [15 points per link]

Reading as making meaning

A reading model

Reading skills

Reading organization links

Reading methods debate

Using computers to teach reading

Electronic literacy

Practical teaching ideas

Concepts and skills

How do children become readers and writers

Lesson plans and ideas

Prevention of reading failure

Feel free to share additional links on reading or your favorite sites. You can do so by going to the Virtual Conference Center. Remember to keep track of your points and to give yourself 15 points for each additional link you find and share.

What should literacy allow us to do?

Overview: Literate primary pupils should: read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding; be able to orchestrate a full range of reading cues (phonic, graphic, syntactic, contextual) to monitor their reading and correct their own mistakes. They should understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately. We expect them to have fluent and legible handwriting; have an interest in words and their meanings and a growing vocabulary.

As skills develop we want youngsters to know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction and poetry. By later grades we want students to understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structured through basic literary ideas of setting, character and plot. We optimize the ability to understand, use and write a range of nonfiction texts. We work to develop the ability to plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing; have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing. Successful students should be interested in books, read with enjoyment and evaluate and justify their preferences; through reading and writing, develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.

All teachers know that pupils become successful readers by learning to use a range of strategies to get at the meaning of a text. This principle is at the heart of the National Curriculum for English and has formed the basis of successful literacy teaching for many years. The range of strategies can be depicted as a series of searchlights, each of which sheds light on the text. Successful readers use as many of these strategies as possible. Most teachers know about all these, but have often been overcautious about the teaching of phonics - sounds and spelling.

It is vital that pupils are taught to use these word level strategies effectively. Research evidence shows that pupils do not learn to distinguish between the different sounds of words simply by being exposed to books. They need to be taught to do this. When they begin to read, most pupils tend to see words as images, with a particular shape and pattern. They tend not to understand that words are made up of letters used in particular combinations that correspond with spoken sounds. It is essential that pupils are taught these basic decoding and spelling skills from the outset. When pupils read familiar and predictable texts, they can easily become over-reliant on their knowledge of context and grammar. They may pay too little attention to how words sound and how they are spelt. But if pupils cannot decode individual words through their knowledge of sounds and spellings, they find it difficult to get at the meaning of complex, less familiar texts. They are likely to have problems dealing with more extended texts and information books used across the subject and with spelling.

As they learn these basic decoding skills they should also be taught to check their reading for sense by reference to the grammar and meaning of the text. This helps them to identify and correct their reading errors. There should be a strong and systematic emphasis on the teaching of phonics and other word level skills. Pupils should be taught to: discriminate between the separate sounds in words; learn the letters and letter combinations most commonly used to spell those sounds; read words by sounding out and blending their separate parts; write words by combining the spelling patterns of their sounds.

In the early stages, pupils should have a carefully balanced programed of guided reading from books of graded difficulty, matched to their independent reading levels. These guided reading books should have a cumulative vocabulary, sensible grammatical structure and a lively and interesting content. Through shared reading, pupils should also be given a rich experience of more challenging texts. This Framework organizes teaching objectives at three different levels: word, sentence and text. Taken from The Standards Site. [25 points]

HR 2614, The Reading Excellence Act, passed in 1998, mandates a number of important things teachers will address in working with youth. This impacts the way that reading is taught. It mandates utilization of phonics instruction as a part of teaching reading.

Great site for lesson plans, and reading embedded in other subjects - Awesome Library

But what does our understanding of reading as a subject and part of literacy mean for Melissa and the reading part of her instructional day?

What does it mean for the students in your class?


1. Assess the student's reading skills.

Placement scores from the district or State achievement tests are a good start. They help establish a basic reading level. Once a general reading level is established, it is important to work one-on-one with the student. Set up tasks that will allow observation of the way the student reads, and when possible, record the youth's oral reading, since that will provide an opportunity to study and find patterns in reading errors and how words are analyzed and attacked.

Since reading is so complex, it is important to pay attention to a number of interlocking activities occurring simultaneously. The following table gives a quick look at the crucial pieces:

Skill - Word Recognition Definition Assessment example
Configuration visual image of the word - sees the word as a visual can fill in letters to fit the shadow space of a word - hopefully almost automatically
Context analysis clues from position in sentence or on the page Guesses a proper name because the word starts with a capital letter and the word comes early in the sentence.
Sight words instant recognition of word Recognizes own name immediately
Phonics analysis use sound rules to give voice to the word Can take a word and figure out how to say it based on sounding out the letters
Syllabication dividing the word into sound bits Knows to break down word into consonant / vowel bits and has a sense of the rhythm
Structural analysis recognizing prefixes and suffixes, plurals, compound words, part if speech Uses a complex understanding of words to decode a word and its meaning - tends to be a skill acquired as reading becomes advanced
Dictionary analysis last resort -look it up Words like charisma and fatigue may need to be looked up since they defy the rules.
Skill - Comprehension Definition Assessment
Vocabulary development meaning, layers of meaning and word subtitles emerge This shows up in two ways - ability to "get" the meaning while reading, and then utilization of the word in personal writing
Literal meaning Recognize and understand the story line, plot, outcome When asked, can explain the story line or sequence of events, main character, plot
Inferred meaning Glean ideas and opinions that are embedded Shows a sense of what comes next in the story, can provide intentions for characters
Evaluation Moving beyond meaning to judge the writing and its impact, fact, value to self Can discuss the fiction or non fiction nature of the material, feels the author made a point or missed it, notes inaccuracies or opinions
Appreciation Connecting emotions to the material Enjoys or dislikes the material, is excited about sharing the ideas with others
Personalization Project ideas and opinions Launches own writing, tells a personal story that is an extension of the author's points

To make this more meaningful, you may want to choose one of the skills and develop a strategy to develop the ability. If this sounds interesting to you, try filling in the following strategy page. Give yourself 25 points for each element you develop.

Skill Grade Level Skill Level
Objective Lesson duration Materials
Procedures Students involved Evaluation

2. Honor the developmental nature of learning to read and the way reading expertise develops.

Developmental Reading Levels

Stage One - Prereading - This is intimately interwoven with language development. A child's sense of books, of reading, stories, incidental reading of signs, locations, food labels, fast food outlets, games, educational toys contribute to an appreciation for reading. As the child acquires a sense of comfort and excitement about deciphering words, or begins to naturally arrive at the reading and naming phase, there is a natural transition into reading.


Stage One - Difficulties - Some children are not ready to read by kindergarten. Assess each student's readiness, abilities, language acquisition pace, sensory abilities, attention span, large and small muscle coordination, and interest in reading as part of the determination about the best place to begin. If a child shows no interest in reading, this is a good indication of the importance of helping the student become excited about reading. It is also critical to work with the child to promote continuous success rather than placing emphasis on skills that produce a sense of frustration or hopelessness.
  Stage Two - Reading and decoding - Decoding words and giving them meaning appear to be intertwined, with the student using and making tools to process symbols, see them as words, sentences and ideas and give them meaning. The awareness that speech consists of words is nearly automatic. The recognition that letters make words is less obvious. A child can be taught distinctive sounds, r -- u -- n, put them together as r - u - n, repeat the sound over and over and still not capture the sounds as the word run.

Stage Two - Difficulties - Still surrounded in controversy, we understand very little of how this symbol to word to meaning process works. Thus, when students have difficulty, our best solution seems to be to immerse them in a rich reading and language medium, supporting the whole language approach to speaking, reading, and writing ideas. This is also an excellent time to over learn the sound-symbols systems of phonics so the tools are a part of the child's repertoire. What matters most of all, is to continue to help the child find ways to feel successful, desire acquisition of the necessary skills and work below frustration level. For many of us who work with students who are not ready, the most crucial tools are time, love and support of efforts.

  Stage Three - Gaining ownership - Once the student recognizes and acquires the basic skills involved in reading, excitement tends to build. The genuine delight of books and reading presses the student forward. The skills and vocabulary build and the feeling of competence continues the excitement. Help students choose books that will build on abilities and interests and from a number of genres. Identify books that are classics in the areas of fiction and nonfiction. There are many outstanding children's books. Stage Three - Difficulties - Many of the reading strategies we use make learning to read and loving to read unlikely for the student who develops slowly. It may be very hard work with little reward when insights do not occur automatically. Visual problems may make the work a strain - and for some students, reversals and cryptic visual constructions add to the strain. Since some students are slow to read, peer teasing may inhibit willingness to work on the correct grade level, and the interest level of the student may be far beyond the ability to read. Esteem issues must be assiduously skirted. A student will make the best progress if he or she does not encounter or harbor a feeling of hopelessness about succeeding.
Stage Four - Competence and construction - the power of reading can really excite young people as they recognize the limitless opportunities. If students have not been introduced to the world of computers, this is a wonderful time to enrich lives with the opportunities available on the web. It is also a critical time to move reading skills forward into competence in writing, so the student contributes personal ideas - at least to friends, family and individualization of learning. Transferring reading competency to writing skills is far from easy and a detailed, well constructed set of activities and opportunities for success is important.

Stage Four - Difficulties - If a student has a history of difficulty with reading, this is one of the most important times for helping the student consolidate successes, recognize how much competence is already in place and doing careful reading assessment to shore up and strengthen skills that may have been missed. So often, reading has seemed like work to this point -- little joy, little ownership, little personal satisfaction. By moving reading into the personal arena of the student and finding the ways that reading matches best with interest, a reluctant reader may come to appreciate the wealth that being fully literate provides.

In some cases, a student has failed to see the value of reading, and for this student, a careful program, aimed at opening opportunities to read and write, to feel the power of communication is the critical piece.

Moving from reading for information, to reading for pleasure is one big step. A whole different type of activity and set of skills is required to move from reading at the newspaper and TV Guide level to reading research and enjoying deeper fiction and nonfiction.


Remember some of the following as worthy practice in early grades, validated by research of successful programs:

a) Utilize effective instructional practices that highlight letter-sound correspondence. [If used correctly, phonics instruction really does facilitate learning. Montessori found it to be one of the most effective strategies and are research to date shows that over-all most students who can learn the phonetic underpinnings become more fluent in reading].

b) Focus on early phonemic awareness, including opportunities to recognize and utilize segmenting, rhyming, letter-sound substitutions, spelling patterns and sound blending in early instruction.

c) Scaffold early sound awareness with alphabet awareness, auditory, visual and kinesthetic interactions with sounds, letters and words. The more game like and success laden the instruction, the more likely students will attend to and learn from the experiences. The more carefully attuned the instruction is to individual readiness and successes, the more effective the instruction and the more rapid the progress of individual students.

d) Teachers can model excitement about sounding out words, blending and reading.

e) Judicious, individualized instruction can highlight student strengths and provide the opportunity to scaffold from successful tasks to more difficult activities without moving a student into activities that are too difficult or frustrating.

f) Teachers and parents can provide role models of expertise in reading and excitement about acquiring communication skills. Let children see you reading for pleasure, watch you open letters, surf the net, look things up in dictionaries and encyclopedia, read television guides, muse over the menu at fast food places. Let love of reading shine through to model eagerness and let your excitement show when a student has a success.

g) The Internet is a powerful tool and powerful motivator for immersing students in reading, writing and researching.

The following are worthy practices in later grades:

a) Effective instructional practice emphasizes scaffolding - building from the initial level of student proficiency with adequate support to sustain success.

b) Utilize the principles of judicious review -- sufficient, distributed, varied, cumulative, success oriented and stimulating.

c) Integrate reading instruction with content that is a match with student interests. If the student has a love of cars, then reading material and the full range of communication instruction may revolve around that, then branching into other areas of content. A language experience approach is quite appropriate to older students as a powerful tool to enhance interest and motivate the student.

d) Involve the student in tutoring and supporting others who are less advanced. The review and consolidation that occurs can be esteem building and skill building. Consider setting up a tutoring opportunity that puts the older student in charge of practicing rudiments of reading, since this will provide a means to review basic skills without drudgery or loss of esteem.

e) Story mapping strategies can enhance comprehension.

f) Teach reading, review and study strategies specifically, rather than assuming a student has and knows how to utilize the tools.

For older students -- Discuss best practice and study skills, reviewing good study habits as each fits into the course of work.

Use a reading self appraisal to match reading interests to the content

Students can promote learning by accepting responsibilities like the following:

Rules for Reading Assignments

1. Come prepared to read

2. Read at home as well as at school

3. Draw conclusions from reading, evaluating and analyzing the material, and considering implication for your own life.

4. Expect to enjoy reading, and when a book is not a pleasure, consider finding a better fit in interest or ability.

5. Accept responsibility for completing work in a timely fashion, and ask for help when needed.

Evaluate fiction by analyzing the characters, plot, conflict, setting and theme.

Evaluate essays by analyzing the purpose or main idea of the essay, assessing the facts, details or examples used to support the thesis, considering the effectiveness of points made, and the persuasive power of the conclusion.

Evaluate editorials by assessing the author's position, how thoroughly facts, statistics, research and explanations of the position were used and then evaluate the strength of the material based on whether or not it altered your position.

Fiction is divided into categories called genres. Which ones are your favorites? Romance, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Western Historical Fiction

Good reading habits include many of the following ideas: read a number of different types of materials, use contextual ideas to facilitate reading, focus on phrases, sentences and paragraphs rather than single words, share their excitement and ideas gleaned from reading with others, intentionally stops reading material that is uninteresting, too difficult or too uninspiring, become engaged in the things they are reading and derive pleasure from fiction and non fiction.

Good reading includes varying reading style based on the purpose for reading material. Reading strategies include skimming, scanning, light reading and serious reading.

To improve reading comprehension: preview the material, read in a place without distractions, stop and visualize materials as you read, focus on key words and events, be alert to cause and effect and how it advances the material, draw inferences and conclusions, then assess correctness as the material unfolds, group things and events into categories and look for connections, study charts, graphs and pictures accompanying the text, use context clues to decipher unfamiliar words, but also jot words down and include them as vocabulary, when material is complex, take notes or make mind maps, underline or highlight critical materials when planning to review again in the future, summarize ideas for yourself as you read, when reading, if attention wanders, stop and return to the material after a break.

Utilize outlines and concept maps as a guide to understanding passages - and as a tool in rewriting personal drafts. Write an outline of material to be written. Once a paper is written, go back and outline the material to determine the flow. It is an excellent tool for enhancing drafts.

3. Honor the individual. We have increasing evidence of the individualized nature of brain functions through the use of MRI and PET scan images of the brain. If brains function in different ways while performing the same types of tasks, it offers evidence that many of us learn in similar ways, but many of us do not. It is more obvious than ever before that good teaching must include recognizing and honoring the individualized nature of learning.

Normal Function Atypical Brain Function


When a student says "NO" find out why.

When a youngster says "I CAN'T", listen constructively and back up to the place where success is possible.

When a student expresses discouragement, go beyond encouraging and listen to what the child wants to explain.

If a skill eludes a student, try the following:

Link reading instruction to the student's current conceptual understanding. Provide materials that personalize the reading and relate to the student's life. Teach reading as pleasurable and interesting, using games and activities that students enjoy. Concentrate on successes and what is going well. Allow students to find personal methods for solving reading problems and then allow them to teach the tricks to other students. Encourage students to use manipulatives such as sports cards, personal notes, computer games, magazines, catalogues of things they find interesting, to enhance depth and rate of learning. Find ways to generalize reading and writing to current, every day use of the skills. Utilize web and computer skills to involve students in communications, including keyboarding rather than hand writing instruction, use of spell checkers and grammar checkers as standard procedures during communicating, setting up and accessing a personal mail box and subscribing for joke of the day, thought of the day, quote of the day, as well as chat rooms and making greeting cards on the net.

How about drill? Rote memorization can really help, but drill can kill -- kill interest in reading and in its place create a sense of boredom, carelessness, or worse, -- open dislike that may lead to shunning books and reading.

Reading for Melissa and students who are developmentally delayed as well as youth who are not yet ready to learn by independent reading can include read-along stories, taped selections of material required for the class, * mind maps of concepts developed by other students, readings in texts that contain the basic ideas but at a simpler reading level, role playing activities that contain the concepts and constructs that are most important in a lesson, life-skill oriented activities - * reading a bus schedule, reading newspapers, writing out job applications, * filling out health forms, writing want ads, making up a resume, writing cover letters, cross word puzzles,* working in individualized reading programs similar to SRA kits, using reading programs available for use on the computer.

For a while we spent a lot of time working of patterning for youngsters who were not learning to read. There were enough successes that the ideas were featured on television and many parents spent hours in the 1970's working with children. The Doman-Delecato method has been criticized for its rigidity and insistence on specific forms of patterning, but it still flourishes and it maintains that it has a record of success for students who have reading difficulty.

The idea of using physical activity to increase reading ability sounds bizarre, but I have known a number of cases where the youngster's reading ability or facility has increased by learning to dance, to ride a bike, or get proficient doing exercises along with a video. The point here? When working with a youngster who has trouble learning to read, use every available tool to strengthen the mind and the body. It seems to be more effective than just focusing on reading.

4. Believe that all can read. Reading is empowering and freeing. Some students find reading easy and pleasurable from the first moment. Others find reading difficult. If success is likely to be limited, there are a number of functional activities that will provide increased satisfaction and enhance life opportunities. Focus time and energy on reading activities that enhance:

domestic and self help potential - signs, maps, bus schedules, recipe reading, cooking, phone books, bills, correspondence, instruction manuals, food cartons

leisure - television guides, funnies, directions for games, fiction, crosswords, puzzle games

vocational reading - checks and check stubs, driving manual if applicable, insurance forms, labor or work group manuals, help wanted ads, writing own name and recognizing and writing out personal demographics

community living - Notices of dances, shows, theater programs, special educational programs and times, phone book

social communications - writing and reading letters, writing notes to chums, Christmas and birthday greetings.

Loving to Learn - We all do! Every youngster comes primed and works diligently. Some things are easy for one person to learn, but not so easy for another. Reading is especially difficult for youngsters who see letters and patterns in unusual or creative ways. Understanding that it is a difference rather than a disability may help us work more intelligently with youngsters who visualize written words differently than the norm. How about some great sites for discovering more about dyslexia?

Travel to some of the following links to learn more about reading problems. Feel free to share additional links on reading or your favorite sites if you find others on the web. You can do so by going to the Virtual Conference Center. Remember to keep track of your points and to give yourself 15 points for each link you visit and 15 points for additional link you find and share.

dyslexia resources training program
teen page dyslexia as a gift personal view
self help dyslexia archive medical information


Assignment Options

Assignment Options

Remember: You are building this course to suit your needs. This is a cafeteria style presentation of assignments. Please do those that will strengthen your skills and enhance your ability to teach and provide services. Keep track of your points.

1. Write a one minute essay, reviewing the material presented in this on-line reading [25 points]. Feel free to discuss these ideas in WebCT or discuss them with a learning buddy in your local area [25 points].

2. Describe your own reading experiences and ways you utilize those experiences to teach others. [25 points].

3. Develop a set of interventions for enhancing reading instruction. Feel free to use the following chart to organize your response. [50 points for each set developed]


Level of student understanding LD Dyslexic Mild DD Moderate DD
Preparation to learn        


4. Conduct an informal reading assessment with one student and report findings. [50 points]

5. Conduct a Student Conference and help the student develop an individualized plan for moving forward with reading skills. [50 points].

6. Visit web sites on teaching reading standards and review guidelines for teaching reading to students. In your search, review at least four sources on helping students learn to love reading. Provide a summary of your findings. [75 points].

7. Review the reading tests used by your district to assess student success. Try to gain access to the formal assessments used as well as any district criterion referenced tests. If none are available, try accessing those used by your State Department of Education. Identify a personal favorite and also critique any that are inappropriate for use. [100 points]. Consider looking for web sites about reading assessments. Give yourself 15 points for each you find.

8. Find and adapt or personally develop a list of functional literacy skills that promote independence. Then using that list, develop a series of five or more strategies for teaching those skills. If finding a set of skills seems difficult, consider looking at the categories on tests like the Vineland or Adaptive Behavior Scale. Broad categories might include Consumer, Homemaking, Recreation - Leisure, Employment, Travel. [25 points for each strategy]

The following format is only a suggestion, to get you started. Feel free to use it or develop your own.

Leisure Category

Literacy Skill _____________________

Goal: (Example - know what movie is showing and what time to arrive at the theater)


Time: (Example - may take one to five weeks of checking, then going to the movie to lock in the skill)


Setting: (Example - classroom with newspaper; alternate - phone and calling the theater - reading the phone book)


Strategies (5 suggested):




Sip a little nectar from these classics that explore the importance of honoring students as an act of teaching.

List of Educational Classics that Honor the Student

Bloom, Benjamin (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain.

Bruner, Jerome (1960). The Process of Education.

Conant, James (1959). The American High School Today.

Dewey, John (1938). Experience and Education.

Ginot, Haim (1972 ) Teacher and Child.

Glasser, William (1969; 1972) Schools Without Failure; Reality Therapy.

Goodlad and Anderson (1972) The Nongraded School.

Holt, John (1964). How Children Fail.

Johnson, Johnson & Holubec (1990). Circles of Learning

Kohl, Herbert (1967). 36 Children.

Maslow, Abraham (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being.

Montessori, Maria (1989). The Absorbent Mind.

Neill, A.S. (1960). Summerhill.

Piaget, Jean (1950). The Psychology of Intelligence.

Postman, Neil, & Charles Weingartner (1969). Teaching as a Subversive Activity.

Rogers, Carl (1961). On Becoming a Person.

Rosenthal, Robert and Lenore Jacobsen. (1968). Pygmalion in the Classroom.

Silberman, Charles.(1971). Crisis in the Classroom.

Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth

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