Helping readers thrive

Three ways teachers can help readers thrive this year 


As students continue to settle into the return to in-person learning this school year, literacy instruction is more important than ever.

During the uncertainty of virtual learning, it wasn’t always possible to give students the same level of targeted instruction. So, if one thing has become clear to teachers at the mid-way point of the fall semester, it’s that readers could use extra support.

“It’s really crucial to provide plenty of support for students who are at-risk or struggling, or for those who may have reading disorders,” said Jenny Nordman, associate professor or reading and literacy at Regis University.

So, how can educators make sure their readers thrive? Nordman offered some tips.


Stay positive and emphasize individualized instruction

Nordman said it’s important for teachers to stay positive and set incremental goals when working with readers.

“When students reach these goals, it helps them feel successful and become more aware of their own progress. It motivates them to keep trying,” she said. “I also think reading incentives and increased time on text, either at home or at school, is another important element.”

Additionally, it is important that students receive personalized instruction.

“It’s really important that struggling readers receive individualized instruction because each student is going to have unique gaps, especially those with diagnosed or suspected reading disabilities,” Nordman said.

Strengthen the school-to-home connection

“Because we’re seeing more gaps due to the pandemic and the shift from online schooling back to in-class learning, it’s even more crucial to have home-school partnerships,” Nordman said. “If students are doing reading at home, that’s going to give them more practice and time on text, which will help to close those gaps.”

Nordman encouraged teachers to start by giving parents ideas on ways to support reading at home. To help with oral reading fluency and reading speed, she recommends timed-repeated reading. During this strategy, parents time their students as they read passages or pages out loud multiple times. Additionally, reciprocal reading — when parents engage with students by asking questions — helps to strengthen comprehension. For emergent readers, Nordman said teachers could send home phoneme cards and sight words recognition cards, as well as resources for letter recognition and sound recognition.

Nordman encouraged educators to create rewards, such as a points system, to incentivize reading at home.

Seek out professional development opportunities

As teachers implement new strategies in the classroom, there are also opportunities to grow their skills in literacy instruction, from conferences to courses. Regis University will be among the universities present at the Colorado Conference for the International Reading Association this year.

“We have experts and authors from all over the country who come and present at that,” Nordman said. “That would be a really great opportunity for not only professional development, but also for refreshing strategies.”

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