I chose to focus my research on reading disabilities. The social studies content requires an immense amount of reading and comprehension. Despite the amount of graphic organizers, visuals, kinesthetic learning tools, and tips and tricks one provides the students reading is still a huge part of the social studies classroom. I often see on the IEP’s I receive at the beginning of the year there being something about a reading disability. If I read further I can see the data from numerous reading tests the student has gone through since their eligibility into special education. I have always looked at those numbers and that data with a puzzled look – what does all that mean for that particular child in this particular social studies classroom?
“Reading disability is defined as below-average achievement in reading comprehension, as assessed by a standardized test.” (Aaron, Joshi, and Williams) In the article, Not all Reading Disabilities are Alike, reading disabilities are broken down into four sub categories. I found this article particularly interesting because, these sub categories are never given to me as the teacher with students with learning disabilities. “Four different types of poor readers could be identified with deficiency in any one of the following skills: (a) decoding only, (b) comprehension only, (c) a combination of comprehension and decoding, and (d) a combination of orthographic processing and reading speed.” (Aaron, Joshi, and Williams). Due to the variety of reading disabilities a child could have multiple strategies can be implemented to best support that child. It is best to look at what is holding the child back from being successful and then work on implementing the strategy.
“Students with special needs often struggle with all aspects of reading, from developing phonemic awareness to comprehension.” (Selfridge) Approximately 30% of the students I teach have special needs. These students are all grouped together (anywhere from 15 – 20 in a class) and while I have a co-teacher I do not get planning time with myy a co-teacher because they also teach mathematics, which gets precedent. We also have limited space for our reading intervention program – only about eight students from each program can be placed in this. It is imperative that I master reading comprehension strategies to explicitly teach my students. Selfridge states that “practitioners and researchers have demonstrated that using precision teaching techniques will facilitate the improvement of reading behaviors.”
Depending on the structure or strategy, there are many tools which can be used in the classroom to best support reading comprehension. “Regardless of the strategy, instruction in the area of reading comprehension must be highly structured, directed response/questioning, explicit, systematic, modeled, scaffolded, and intense.” (Watson, Gable, Gear) One strategy to explicitly teach and model with students is called using your “inside voice”. Expert readers will ask questions, make connections, and make inferences while they read; they often do not realize they are doing this. “Students with a greater knowledge of a specific topic understand and remember textual information about that topic better than students with less prior knowledge of that area, regardless of their age or reading disability.” (Watson, Gable, and Gear) One technological tool to best implement this strategy would be the use of GoogleDocs. A scaffolded reading could be created in a GoogleDoc and then shared on the “add comments” mode. Students could then add in any connections and questions they have. All of the readings stated how important it was to explicitly teach and model these strategies. The class would do an example together the first time with the teacher adding in comments to the document being projected onto the screen (comments would come from student volunteers). The students would then work in small groups or pairs to read another text using the same strategy. Eventually, the students would be able to complete this task independently. In addition to the modeling and explicit expectations of the strategy, the strategy would also need to be highly structured. Students would always have a minimum requirement of thinking of two questions and making two connections.
Reading disabilities affect the learning, motivation, and attitude for school. These articles broke down the term “reading disability” into several categories, thus providing a more specific outlook on the disability. “The ability to read greatly influences students’ academic careers and their entire lives.” I will be starting the school year explicitly teaching 1 reading comprehension structure for every two units. This will give time to model, differentiate for the different types reading disabilities, and provide time for the students to master the structure before moving onto the next. If more time is needed on a given structure than more time can be allotted.
Aaron, P. G., Joshi, M., & Williams, K. A. (1999). Not all reading disabilities are alike. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32(2), 120-137. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/85684915?accountid=12598
Selfridge, K. A., & Kostewicz, D. E. (2011). Reading interventions for four students with learning disabilities. Journal of Precision Teaching & Celeration, 27, 19-24. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1282239858?accountid=12598
Watson, S. M., Gable, R. A., Gear, S. B., & Hughes, K. C. (2012). Evidence-based strategies for improving the reading comprehension of secondary students: Implications for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 27(2), 79-89. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1018479399?accountid=12598