Introduction to the Reading Interventions for Children
The reading ability is considered to be essential within a great number of different countries all over the world. Not so long time ago, reading skills were regarded as the feature of educated people and rich ones because only well-to-do people could afford to learn how to read and other various basic skills. The reading skills are considered basic about the modern situation in society and the area of education, though they are necessary to obtain education which is more available nowadays. People should learn how to read to be able to acquire further knowledge and develop other skills.
Importance to Be Able to Read
The system of formal education in most countries requires reading ability as an integral part of the educational process. Though some children experience early reading difficulties, the problem is solved as soon as their reading becomes more advanced. The current report concerns the children experiencing difficulties in reading and possible interventions with such problems. It also introduces different reading interventions that can be used to develop reading skills.
As the problem of difficulties in reading is a burning issue of the educators, it is necessary to take into account various practices that had established numerous programs that can contribute greatly to the salvation of the problem. As children experiencing early reading difficulties can benefit from using phonemic awareness and phonics methods, these techniques are worth being introduced into the official education programs as well as the method of a teacher and children reading together, oral recitations of texts, and attempting to guess the outcome of the whole story, reading out loud and correcting incorrect pronunciation, developing the vocabulary, and ordinary instructions how to read correctly.
The Essential Problem
As it is important for children to be able to read as well as their classmates and friends do, they should be self-confident and should not be afraid if the teacher corrects their mistakes. Some children encounter various problems related to the development of their reading skills. It is possible to take numerous measures, suchlike reading interventions, though the most appropriate ones should be chosen by the teacher. An individual approach can be introduced in order to improve children’s progress in learning to read. Some children lack basic skills which prevent the process of learning to read. The reading interventions are aimed at helping children to overcome certain difficulties in the process of learning to read.
Reading together and using methods of oral recitations can be rather useful as strategies of learning to read. Analytical skills and recitation of texts can be considered good examples of introducing reading interventions. All these methods are effective in case this is suggested by the individual approach which would develop the children’s confidence in the reading skills and abilities to learn more. Reading interventions are necessary not only as far as young learners can experience difficulties in the process of learning to read but also should be introduced when children need some encouragement and development of their self-confidence.
The teacher can read together with learners as suggested by Barchers (1991) which would develop the learner’s confidence. This method can be used with young readers as well as with more experienced ones because this method presupposes that children would follow the melody and tone presented by the teacher. The teacher’s pronunciation should be correct to the extent that children could not learn an incorrect variant of pronunciation of certain words or inappropriate intonation in different speech events, suchlike enumeration, questions, affirmative sentences, and other types of sentences and phrases that may occur in texts.
The method implemented by Barchers (1991) can be used for teaching children to read, recognize different words as they hear them, memorize pieces of information – the pieces can become longer as children progress – in order to develop children’s memory as well as their reading skills. The book by Barchers (1991) is called Bridges to Reading: Grades K-3; it is structured as a combination of guidelines appropriate for certain books. The author suggests different methods that use various techniques appropriate for ordinary interventions including literature for children. These combinations cover materials starting with the learning of the alphabet, alphabetization, auditory discrimination, chronological order, classification, compensation (creative, inferential, and literal), and figurative language (Barchers, 1991, pp.1-16) and finishing with the analysis of text structure, development of a vocabulary, and word recognition.
Every lesson is organized in a similar manner where a definite book is prepared for use with regard to a set of assignments. In addition, each book presented to base a lesson on it has a list of sources that can be used for searching some more information as background data. Thus, one of the assignments concerns the book Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke written by Edwards (1995); the activities suggested by the author include the following task:
Read the book aloud. Allow the students to fill in words as they listen. During the second reading, list a variety of examples of alliteration on the board. Find the 60 objects in the book that begin with the letter “f”. Then list all the foods mentioned in the story (Barchers, 1991, p.146)
This assignment is only a small part of the book which can be used as effective reading intervention for it includes a great number of activities that are aimed at developing reading skills of children as well as the intellectual ones and analytical abilities. As you can see, reading can be exciting and engaging; instead of using ordinary interventions, the teacher can combine them with children’s literature.
It is possible to make the learners read aloud and make all necessary corrections in the same way, as introduced in the book by Rasinski, Blachowicz, & Lems, (2005). The typical lessons aimed at acquiring reading skills presuppose that students reading new texts which were not read before and, consequently, they cannot recognize information and fail to produce it as it could be done with practiced pieces of literature (Rasinski, Blachowicz, & Lems, 2005, pp. 7-20). This notion can be defined as automaticity when students practise their reading skills with familiar texts as well with unfamiliar ones. This leads to development of reading skills in terms of fluency and word recognition.
Reading aloud is really effective in terms of methods suggested by Rasinski, Blachowicz, & Lems, (2005). The current approach presupposes that a student should read aloud and the teacher should make all necessary corrections when a student reads. No one should be ashamed of reading incorrectly; so, the reading aloud approach allows children to develop their confidence and awareness that everyone will be treated equally and all other members of the class are sure to be corrected on similar bases.
As long as children are afraid to be made fun of, they would refuse to read aloud in the class. This protest can be developed further and, after this, the child will refuse to read aloud at home. Reading aloud can be introduced in classes where intellectual skills of children are apparently equal because of the probability of development of psychological complexes. Reading interventions should lead to improvement of reading skills of children of various intellectual skills; therefore, the teacher should implement the most appropriate teaching strategy.
Wright (2001) presents the method of oral recitations known to most of us as another reading intervention strategy that can be used to develop reading skills. The author introduces academic strategies that can be implemented into the teaching process; these strategies are approach that presupposes direct instructions, techniques that are aimed at promoting reading fluency, methods that should be used in order to practise text comprehension. Describing and demonstrating skills should be an integral part of literacy lessons as well as moments of oral appraisal; “Teacher oversight and feedback is especially important to prevent students new to the skill from practicing it incorrectly” (Wright, 2001, p.5)
Reading aloud and thinking aloud is also appreciated and appears to be effective with regard to development reading skills as well as analytical ones. Encouragement and grading can be useful in the process of using reading interventions:
Many students, particularly those who need more practice and support to learn a new skill, do best at this stage if they are encouraged initially to “think aloud” as they move through the strategy—i.e., stating each step of the skill as they implement it and giving reasons for the decisions that they make (Wright, 2001, p.6).
As you can see, reading interventions can be rather useful when implemented in combination with one another because all techniques and skills are connected and should be developed as integral parts of one indivisible element.
Oral recitations can be effective in terms of developing reading skills and encouraging students to take part in the activity because this strategy “… builds student motivation and interest by having them participate along with the teacher in repeated public readings of a story across several days. Throughout the process, the entire class discusses the work as literature” (Wright, 2001, p.38). This assignment should last for several days; the teacher should be prepared as well as students for he/she could recognize difficulties related to the piece of literature and make appropriate correction encountering errors.
Children are able to recognize and evaluate sounds that they can hear in terms of word structures. Some models that are aimed at developing phonemic awareness can be considered the primary stage of the process of reading and its acquisition. As a rule, the phonemic awareness has been regarded as an additional technique applied to the ordinary day-to-day reading instruction. The knowledge of phonemic awareness had a significant effect on the overall process of reading acquisition due to the PA interventions, as suggested by the National Reading Panel.
The effect from phonemic awareness in reading acquisition can be demonstrated by children of lower grades than by older ones. The PA appeared to be more profiting for children of the preschool age, kindergarten, and the first graders. The results were almost equal for children of different socioeconomic positions. As the teaching had its certain limitations on skills, the instructions were conducted in smaller groups that enhanced results and effectiveness of the current method. The overall time limit in terms of PA instructions included from 5 to 18 hours per year.
Phonemic awareness is a commonly used reading intervention which makes the young readers aware of the meaning of sounds with regard to the words in which these sounds are presented. Phonemic awareness and other reading skills can be considered one of the basic reading interventions used in practice in terms of contributing to the overall effectiveness of introducing various strategies.
Listening skills should be developed as well in order to make the learners aware of the correct pronunciation of certain words, as suggested by Honig (2001). Students should learn combination of a word as it is written on the paper and a mixture of sounds that mean the same as the written word. These methods resemble the earliest strategies of reading interventions when the phonemic awareness was considered the primary task to perform. When children acquire knowledge about a certain notion, element, or phenomenon, they should receive information in the form of a correctly organized message which would be appropriate for learners of certain age, basic skills acquired before, and intellectual abilities.
The reading program in every school should enable almost every student to be able to read fluently and understand grade-appropriate material by the end of elementary school; to have read a large number of books, magazines, and other informational text; to reach high levels of comprehension ability; and to enjoy and learn from reading (Honig, 2001, p.1)
The author of the book Teaching Our Children to Read: The Components of an Effective, Comprehensive Reading Program, Bill Honig (2001) suggest a debate between educators that argue about appropriateness of implementing reading interventions instead of letting children acquire the reading skills naturally.
According to Honig (2001), there are several reading instructions that can be used regardless of preferences of the teachers in terms of teaching-to-read strategies. Alphabet recognition, phonemic awareness, the alphabetical principle, phonics, decoding (Honig, 2001, p.9), and other methods are typically used by all teachers, purely or in combination with alternative strategies. Honig (2001) suggests that readers should progress and their next step would be recognition of letters and combinations of letters in the word structures (p.17). When a reader recognizes combinations of letters, he/she can be considered an experienced one because this student can see meaningful words instead of senseless separate letters; when the letters are read as a combination, this can be treated as progress in reading.
Reading words correctly
Another effective reading strategy that can be used in the class in order to develop reading skills in learners, as suggested by Larkin (2003), is one when the teacher can read the words correctly, divide the sentence into smaller bits, or give the learner a clue on how to read the word correctly. Though the reading skills can be developed, “there is no ‘reading’ area in the brain” (Larkin, 2003, p.2); so, the skills should be developed in complex with other skills, suchlike intellectual, phonemic awareness, text recognition, and other elements which can be useful for experienced readers in future.
Larkin (2003) suggests that the process of acquiring knowledge that can be used to develop reading skills is a complex and long lasting process which should be encouraged and appraised. Students should undergo different stages of reading interventions, suchlike phonemic instruction, phonics and word attack strategies, methods for building vocabulary and reading fluency, gaining meaning from reading when dealing with words, and comprehension in the context area. After passing every stage, it is necessary to practice skills acquired during the current stage and all previous ones. As a rule, skills are forgotten if a person does not practise them. In the process of learning to read, reading skills should be supported by effective practise as well as engaging exercises of different kinds.
If some students experience difficulties in the process of learning to read, collaborative strategic reading may be implemented into practise because this strategy “… helps students to improve their reading comprehension, increase their vocabulary, and work cooperatively with peers” (Larkin, 2003, p.156). As you can see, it is ineffective and inappropriate to use a single strategy when working with learners that experience difficulties in reading. The most appropriate strategy implies that the teacher uses a set of strategies in the class in order to meet requirements and expectations of all students with various intellectual and reading skills. The teacher can use different methods of developing reading skills of children using a certain approach in their practise.
Phonemic awareness is a common strategy which presupposes that a learner should be aware of words with regard to the sight and sounds that are produced to use these words in oral speech, as discussed by McCormack & Paratore (2003). This strategy is considered the basic one because it play a role of a fundament for development of reading skills with children. Different strategies can be used as additional to the basic ones, though they can appear to be rather effective when implemented in combination. Phonemes should be learned as well as words; however, sounds are recognized by the human ear, it is necessary to develop recognition and association of certain sound with definite graphic symbols.
The authors of the book by McCormack & Paratore (2003) suggest that a learner should understand the necessity of learning to read and develop their reading skills as well as cognitive ones. When students are aware of phonemes and words that are expressed graphically as separate units, they are ready to acquire knowledge on the relations between sounds and sights using multisensory approach. This approach should be considered as the basic one because is enables student differentiate between separate sounds and combinations of sounds that make up words; the same thing concerns the words, when learners know separate letters, they can recognize them and call as they stand in the alphabet, though when using multisensory approach, readers learn to recognize combinations of letters that stand for words.
Grade book and text books should be used in combination because the grade books include assignments and activities that can be effective and helpful while learning the basic rules of reading, and the text books consist of text unpracticed by learners which gives them an opportunity to develop the fluency and text recognition. Computers are claimed to be effective in the process of learning to read as well as books and guidelines. The instructional technology can be implemented to develop literacy; ordinary learners that experience problems in reading should be addressed with the help of instructional technology.
Instructions how to read
‘Instruction’ as a type of phonemic awareness strategy that can be used outside the classroom; moreover, it can be implemented, as claimed by Mississippi Department of Education (1998), in large groups of learners. Though it appears to be less effective in larger groups than in smaller ones, it can be used outside the classroom that make the process of teaching more effective as well as the learning one. Consequently, when a teacher encounters necessity of teaching a large group of learners outside the classroom, it is possible, and would be the most appropriate decision, to use ‘instruction’.
The ‘instruction’ presupposes that a teacher explains to the learners how the reading proves is performed and clarifies certain rules. In this case, the teacher should take into account all rules and exceptions from the rules; while simple rules can be ineffective, it is necessary to support the rules with evidence. You can provide examples at once or give the learners a certain text which would contain some examples in order to practise the rules you have just explained to them. As a rule, assignments that are asked to be done in class are more effective than those performed at home because not all students are able to learn material without additional instructions.
Large groups of learners can effectively learn to read when all the participants of the process are interested in the final outcome and are able to concentrate on reading instructions. Teachers can use instructions to guide learners in the middle of the class when another strategy was chosen as the basic one, the teacher can use ‘instruction’ in order to explain some contradictory cases when we read the same combination of sounds in different environments.
Developing Learner’s Confidence: Alternatives
As it is important to develop learners’ confidence in his/her abilities as well as reinforce the desire to acquire knowledge on methods and rules of reading, different methods of reading interventions can be used. Individual approach introduced by Bender et al. (2000) can make all children equal in terms of reading skills because some children have lower intelligence or cannot perceive the information as quickly as possible. When children experience difficulties, they need some instruction and encouragement. Teachers can inspire and guide learners with regard to the appropriate strategy chosen as the basic one and additional techniques that can be used in combination with the basic method.
Equality is the right of every citizen of the independent country; learners should be provided with an equal opportunity to acquire knowledge and learn to read. Students should exercise their rights in order to receive knowledge appropriate for further development. Students are able of acquiring knowledge on equal bases, though they can fail to receive information because on unequal treatment due to their intellectual skills. As some teacher believe that students with lower intellectual skills are not able to acquire knowledge on how to read in the full measure and should not be engaged into the learning process.
Scientifically researched methods of reading interventions, as presented by Scammacca, Vaughn, & Roberts (2007), can use a range of words which are supposed to be learned by the readers. A definite vocabulary should be developed in the process of learning to read. This method presupposes that the teacher should introduce a range of words, a certain vocabulary that should be learned by the students as a part of the reading intervention program. When students acquire information on certain rules concerning the process of reading, they are aware of combinations of letters which are pronounced with the help of sounds. Scammacca, Vaughn, & Roberts (2007) suggest that teachers should provide their students with certain vocabulary. It is possible to introduce definite words for classes on certain topics, for example, the teacher can introduce words related to the theme of astronomy for the class on space trips and discussion of space shuttles.
Vocabulary will become an integral part of the assignments and children would tend to learn more words. Though the teacher should introduce new words from time to time, all the words should be practiced with regard to their meaning. The teacher can ask students to explain the meaning of certain words or use them appropriately in a sentence or a phrase. Another activity that can be introduced in order to develop reading skills of students is the set of games when learners should guess the word thought by the teacher or explain the meaning of the word without naming it. The teacher can introduce various activities that would be helpful in developing vocabulary as well as developing reading skills.
Guessing the outcome of the story
Summarizing passages and trying to guess the outcome of the story in order to develop reading skills can be rather useful in terms of reading interventions, as discussed by Thompson (2004). As there is a great number of reading interventions, it is necessary both to choose the most appropriate for a group of learners with certain intellectual and reading skills, and combine various reading interventions in order to implement the most appropriate methods into the learning process.
The method suggested by Thompson (2004) presupposes that the teacher should teach the students to read and combine it with developing text recognition. Learners are asked to read a piece of text or to listen to the text as the teacher reads it and try to guess the outcome of the story according to words that were present in the part that became familiar with. Students should summarize what they have learned and introduce their version of the end of the story. The recognition of the text is very important because experienced readers scan the text and can understand the meaning seeing separate words that can be connected into a single text.
Reading interventions are effective only when they are used as a combination of different strategies aimed at developing intellectual and reading skills as well as analytical abilities and academic skills. Summarizing information learned from a piece of the text is aimed at developing reading skills of learners that experience difficulties in the course of the process of learning to read.
Teacher can help children that experience difficulties in the process of learning to read with the help of reading interventions. Developing general intelligence and reciting text can be used as effective methods of reading interventions. Some methods can be used as the basic strategies in order to develop phonemic awareness and enable children to acquire further information in the process of learning to read. Principles of phonemic awareness are discussed in most literature sources as it can be considered the fundamental one, though the most vivid analysis of relevance and effectiveness of phonemic awareness was presented in the studies by Honig (2001), Larkin (2003), by McCormack & Paratore (2003), and Mississippi Department of Education (1998). These authors based their materials on the principle of phonemic awareness.
Another approach to the development of reading skills was introduced by Barchers (1991), Rasinski, Blachowicz, & Lems (2005), and Wright (2001). These studies contain discussion of the method of developing reading skills which presupposes the process of reading together and use of oral skills. Thus, Barchers (1991) suggests that the teacher and students should read together which would facilitate the process of learning the correct variant of pronunciation by students and let the teacher correct the mistakes at once. Rasinski, Blachowicz, & Lems (2005) introduce the method of reading aloud which develops confidence as well as reading skills. The study by Wright (2001) includes discussion of oral recitations as one of the most appropriate methods to learn new words and pieces of text.
Finally, alternative methods of reading interventions, suchlike developing vocabulary (Scammacca, Vaughn, & Roberts, 2007) and summarizing the information and trying to guess the outcome of the story (Thompson, 2004) can be used in combination with basic ones in order to reach better results.
Barchers, S. (1991). Bridges to Reading: Grades K-3. Florida: Libraries Unlimited.
Bender, W. et al. (2000). Handbook of Reading. London: Routledge
Honig, B. (2001). Teaching Our Children to Read: The Components of an Effective, Comprehensive Reading Program. California: Corwin Press.
Larkin, M. J. (2003). Reading Strategies for Elementary Students with Learning Difficulties. California: Corwin Press
McCormack, R. & Paratore, J. (2003). After Early Intervention, Then What?: Teaching Struggling Readers in Grades 3 and Beyond. New York: International Reading Assoc.
Mississippi Department of Education. (1998). Reading Initiative: Reading Instructional Intervention Supplement (Benchmarks, Informal Assessments, Strategies) Grades K-3. Mississippi: Mississippi Dept. of Education.
Rasinski, T., Blachowicz, C. & Lems, K. (2005). Fluency instruction: Research Based Best Practices. Florida: Guilford Press
Scammacca, N., Vaughn, S. & Roberts, G. (2007). Extensive Reading Interventions in Grades K-3: Research to Practice. Florida: Florida Center for Reading Research
Thompson, S. (2004). Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction, Grades K-3. NY: ASCD
Wright, J. (2001). The Savvy Teacher’s Guide: Reading Interventions That Work. Web.