With increasing fluency needs and disparity between grade levels, what is a teacher to do? You may feel like you have students coming to you in 7thgrade who are 2 or 3 grade levels behind! How do we even teach 7th grade reading if they can’t read?
But you’re not alone. I get it! Just last year, I was teaching one grade but felt like I was teaching to 7 different levels. It felt so overwhelming, especially when I spent so much time planning, I was exhausted and burned out again and again.
But it doesn’t have to feel that way—let’s review some facts.
Fact One. As upper grade teachers, we weren’t taught how to teach students to read, or to increase their fluency. It’s just not within our bailiwick. Yet.
Fact Two. We can’t work ourselves into burnout trying to be everything to everyone. We’re not going to be good teachers if we burn ourselves out.
Fact Three. While we may feel students are coming in at 7 different grade levels, most students (unless they have IEPS) are approaching grade level with their reading ability.
Your students that are 2 or 3 grade levels behind have IEPs, or are ELL students. You can accommodate their specific needs based upon their individual plan. However, those approaching grade level can actually read—they just read slowly.
I can hear you asking, “So how do we deal with those facts?” By using a structure. You can teach reading in whole group for all your levels. Here’s a whole group structure you can adopt that carries you through any given lesson.
Step One. Bell Ringer Read. Have students read a specific part of a text right when they arrive into your classroom. Studies have shown that students need the struggle of reading to grow.
Remember, they can read grade level texts—it might just take them a little longer.
Give adequate time to read and have your advanced students re-read, or put up the question you want the students to think about (or have them create one of their own). While other students are reading, read aloud to those students who have accommodations in their IEPs.
Step Two. Pose a question and re-read specific sections with cloze read—teacher reads aloud and student fill in missing word usually at the end of a sentence. This method allows them a chance to re-read—a fluency building skill—and they must follow along.
Step Three. Engage in discussion. You may have students who simply won’t read. If they’re required to talk about a text with their peers, they’re more likely to read because they have to discuss it.
That’s it. Your 3 step lesson structure for whole group reading that’ll accommodate all your students with the same text AND increase fluency.
I created a free guide to help you get started increasing fluency every single day. It’s the Quick Start Guide to Growing and Motivating Your Struggling Readers. It’s YOUR right-now, research-based power tool to help you motivate and grow your struggling readers every single day.
Face this year with knowledge empowering you in your classroom. What are you waiting for? Go get it!