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The ability to read allows individuals access to the full range of a culture's artistic and scientific knowledge. Reading is a complex act. Good readers are able fluently to decode the words on a page, to organize and recall important facts in a text, to distill from a reading the author's opinions and attitudes, and to relate the content of an individual text to a web of other texts previously read. The foundation that reading rests upon is the ability to decode. Emergent readers require the support of more accomplished readers to teach them basic vocabulary, demonstrate word attack strategies, model fluent reading, and provide corrective feedback and encouragement. Newly established readers must build fluency and be pushed to exercise their reading skills across the widest possible range of settings and situations. As the act of decoding becomes more effortless and automatic, the developing reader is able to devote a greater portion of cognitive energy to understanding the meaning of the text. Reading comprehension is not a single skill but consists of a cluster of competencies that range from elementary strategies for identifying and recalling factual content to highly sophisticated techniques for inferring an author's opinions and attitudes. As researcher Michael Pressley points out, reading comprehension skills can be thought of as unfolding along a timeline. Before beginning to read a particular selection, the skilled student reader must engage prior knowledge, predict what the author will say about the topic, and set specific reading goals. While reading, the good reader self-monitors his or her understanding of the text, rereads sentences and longer passages that are unclear, and updates predictions about the text based on what he or she has just read. After completing a text, the good reader summarizes its main points (perhaps writing them down), looks back in the text to clarify any points that are unclear, and continues to think about the text and its implications for a period of time. Reading comprehension can also be thought of as a bundle of interdependent skills that range from basic to more advanced. Teachers should ensure that students understand and appropriately use simple comprehension strategies (such as looking back in a text to clarify factual information) before teaching them advanced comprehension strategies such as SQ3R ('Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review'). Ultimately, reading is a competency that is continually honed and improved over a lifetime. The teacher's goal is to build students into independent readers whose skills improve with self-guided practice. Below are a number of instructional strategies to promote word decoding, reading decoding, and reading comprehension.

Jim's Recommended Internet Resources for...

Literacy Web: Reading Comprehension Links. Browse through a large and varied list of recommended reading-instruction links grouped into the following categories: (1) vocabulary instruction, (2) text comprehension instruction, (3) teacher preparation and comprehension strategies instruction, and (4) websites for comprehension practice. This page is a part of 'The Literacy Web', a wonderful cataloging of literacy links and Internet resources created by Dr. Donald J. Leu and Julie Coiro at the University of Connecticut. ||Report Broken Link

Reading Interventions for K-1. Created by the Florida Center for Reading Research, this site contains short, research-based student reading activities suitable for grades K-1. The activities cover phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. ||Report Broken Link

Reading Quest: Improving Comprehension of Textbook Material. Find ideas to help students to grapple with and better understand their textbook readings. Teachers can discover how to use a 'K-W-L' (Known-Want [to Learn]-Learned) chart to encourage students to engage prior knowledge of a topic, encourage students to take notes using a 'Power Thinking' approach, and many other ideas. The site was created by Raymond C. Jones, assistant professor of social studies education at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. ||Report Broken Link

Reading Strategies: A-Z. Visit the site 'Reading Rockets' to discover many articles with intervention and instructional ideas to help struggling readers. Reading Rockets is supported by WETA, the Washington, D.C. public television and radio station and is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. ||Report Broken Link

Scaffolded Reading Comprehension Ideas. The Greece (NY) school district has posted 22 reading comprehension strategies to 'scaffold students' interactions with texts'. These strategies are organized according to the stage of the reading process (pre-reading, reading, post-reading) that they address. Each strategy write-up includes a brief introduction, steps to implement, and ideas to adapt or differentiate the strategy with different student groups or instructional objectives. ||Report Broken Link

The Savvy Teacher's Guide: Reading Interventions That Work. This free 52-page manual (Adobe Acrobat format) contains 4 teacher intervention scripts to build student reading fluency and 10 scripts to boost comprehension. Strategies in the manual are based on practices recommended by the National Reading Panel. ||Report Broken Link


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Rose, T.L., & Sherry, L. (1984). Relative effects of two previewing procedures on LD adolescents’ oral reading performance. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 7, 39-44.

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Topping, K. (1987). Paired reading: A powerful technique for parent use. Reading Teacher, 40, 608-614.

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