Reading intervention is one of the most common referrals made to school psychologists. Students with reading problems present characteristics that require a problem-solving/data-based decision-making process to develop effective interventions.
Whether the problem lies at the word level or higher order skills, there are many intervention strategies to choose from. This article will discuss several of these approaches.
Individualized Reading Instruction (IRI)
The goal of IRI is to identify the students reading level and underlying difficulties. This assessment can be administered on a group basis or individually. It is a very useful tool in determining which students need reading intervention. Running records will provide a snapshot of a student’s reading skills and can help determine instructional plans for your students.
IRI assessments typically include error analysis tools and timed reading passages to initially evaluate a student’s fluency, phonics skills, and word recognition strategies. In addition, the miscue analysis features of IRIs can offer valuable insights into a child’s ability to read unfamiliar words in connected text. Some IRIs also feature separate word lists that are useful for English-language learners and adult literacy students. Several IRI instruments are available, and a number of them have been studied and cross-compared with regard to selected features in their most current editions (see the Vocabulary section for more information). Various factors should be considered when selecting an IRI.
Reading aloud is the single most important activity in developing students’ knowledge for reading success (Neuman, Copple, Bredekamp 2000). It reveals the rewards of reading and develops students’ interest in books. It also provides students with a model of phrased, fluent reading and helps them realize that reading can be fun.
Reading out loud cultivates active listening, which goes beyond hearing words to really internalizing them. This multisensory approach increases comprehension and enables us to extract the core message of the text.
It is also a great way to engage students in the reading process, such as asking open-ended questions about the book or describing pictures. It also teaches students how to make inferences, which is a critical skill that most emerging readers struggle with.
The number of words that children hear in preschool accurately predicts their vocabulary size in kindergarten. They are more likely to learn new words quickly if they are talked to and read to regularly. Reading out loud also exposes children to a wider range of words, sentence structure and grammar than conversations do.
Children with poor reading skills often use inefficient visual strategies to guess unfamiliar words, such as relying on the first letter or overall appearance of a word (analogy phonics). Alternatively, they may try to decode words using their own knowledge of a word’s spelling patterns or by comparing it to other known words (analytical phonics). These methods are less effective than a program that teaches systematically and explicitly how letters and sounds correspond.
Systematic synthetic phonics instruction has been shown to have a positive impact on the reading skills of disabled students and low-achieving students who are not disabled. It also has a strong impact on improving reading fluency, an important component of literacy.
Once children have solid decoding skills, they can focus more on comprehending what they read. This means they can visualize a story, laugh at jokes, and gain new perspectives on the lives of people around them. It also opens the door for them to explore more challenging literature.
Vocabulary is one of the five pillars that supports reading comprehension. A strong vocabulary leads to better writing, reading and listening skills.
Using a variety of methods to teach vocabulary in the classroom will ensure that students are engaged and excited about learning new words. The goal is to foster “word consciousness” — an interest in and curiosity about the new words they encounter in their learning.
To build a student’s vocabulary, teachers should provide meaningful experiences that are contextually-relevant and meaningful to the students. This includes harvesting tricky words from classroom read-alouds and utilizing a variety of strategies that teach word meanings before, during, or after the reading.
Additionally, a dictionary or thesaurus can be very beneficial for building vocabulary as well. It can help a student learn synonyms, root words, and antonyms to expand their vocabulary knowledge. In addition, a dictionary can help a student with their research and writing projects. It can also serve as a bridge to the diverse linguistic backgrounds that may exist in a classroom.