Monday, March 28, 2005

Teaching Teachers How To Teach At-Risk Readers

We can link only to the abstract below, though hopefully the entire paper will be published online soon. There's a surprising scarcity of freely available information comparing the relative efficacies of specific teaching strategies.

This study was able to show that providing novice teachers with instruction about word structure teaching resulted in significant improvement in the efficacy of their teaching (reading achievement increased a great deal). Say the authors: "It is difficult to imagine how teachers can provide effective word decoding or spelling instruction, espeically to struggling readers, without knowledge of the phonemic structure of words, typical grapheme-phoneme mappings, common orthgraphic syllable patterns, and irregularities in words." We would add that the reading difficulties of some children can be difficult to figure out 'intuitively' because basic perceptual processing of sounds or text may be very different from the teacher's. What seems obvious to one is not obvious at all to the other.

Here are the essentials of what these researchers observed helped teaching:

1. Teaching Sound Segmentation - for instance hearing the 2 different sound segments of 'th' and 'igh' in 'thigh'
2. Teaching in Syllable Type (for instance, nonsense words): trube (magic e), sply (open), knoof (vowel team), fisp (closed), sare (vowel-r-magic e), blarn (vowel-r-closed)
3. Distinguishing Phonetically Regular (e.g. saw, box, food) from Irregular (pretty, eye, of) Words

With this added teacher instruction, tutored students were found to have: better knowledge of letter sounds, better decoding and spelling of phonetically regular words, and reading and spelling of irregular words.

Teaching Teachers to Help At-Risk Readers Abstract

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