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Top 7 Reading Strategies & Techniques To Use in Class

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A young child reads a book about a fox in an overhead picture.


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Learning how to read is one of life's greatest pleasures. Students need this important skill to advance through each grade and eventually into college or the workplace. In the long run, they'll develop a love for reading that benefits them throughout their entire lives.

But what happens to students who wrestle with their reading skills?

Reading strategies and techniques can help students to become excellent readers during any school year. Through active reading and other methods, kids can increase their vocabulary and proficiency. Reading techniques benefit struggling students and offer them constructive ways to get a better grasp on learning how to read. 

We've outlined seven reading fluency strategies to reduce students' stress, build their confidence, increase comprehension and help them learn from older kids.

Understanding reading strategies

Reading strategies are specific procedures that help students look at printed words and interpret their meaning. Learners improve their comprehension, understand what they've read and advance their reading skills into high school and beyond.

There are several effective reading strategies designed to boost students' understanding of the written word:

1. Making connections — Connect new words with students’ prior knowledge and favorite hobbies, activities or places they've visited. Use texts that relate to world issues to provide students with another way to deepen their reading comprehension.

2. Inferencing— When reading the text, students take their past knowledge and arrive at a conclusion based on the clues they receive from what they've read.

3. Synthesizing — Students combine new information with their prior knowledge to formulate a new thought or idea.

Instructional strategies ensure students receive the best learning outcomes.

Skills required for reading comprehension

Young girl reads "Hop on Pop" during reading strategies in the classroom.

Most people look at reading as a basic skill learned in elementary school. However, reading encompasses much more than knowing how to pronounce words correctly. It involves reading comprehension skills and overall understanding.

Students who continue to struggle with comprehension difficulties may fight to cope with:

  • Poor vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Decoding problems
  • Loss of concentration
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD
  • The inability to understand what specific words mean on their own or when used in a sentence

There is help available to students so that they can learn how to read effectively.

Here's a list of six reading comprehension skills that teachers can use to help their students develop these abilities:

  1. Decoding is a foundational reading skill that uses phonetics to understand meaning. Students begin by pronouncing words without having seen how it's spelled. Building phonological awareness facilitates the use of rhyming, sounds, and songs, which can in turn help students use decoding strategies.
  2. Building vocabulary is a key component in supporting learners as they build their comprehension skills. Practice new words with students to increase their vocabulary. Kids gain confidence in their reading abilities when they learn how to pronounce and spell unfamiliar words.
  3. Reading fluency. The greatest obstacle to fluency is word recognition. It can take several tries before a student recognizes a word and knows its meaning. Encourage your students to read books often to build their reading fluency.
  4. Putting words together to write a cohesive sentence remains a top skill. Frequent lessons in sentence structure and grammar reinforce reading and writing skills.
  5. Memory and focused attention. Help students improve their memory and attention through classroom games and activities. Since kids love educational games, they're likely to progress much faster.
  6. Background knowledge. Past experiences and prior knowledge are great building blocks in helping students to get the gist of a word or phrase. Encourage kids to build their knowledge through reading, learning more about art, watching TV shows and having meaningful conversations with parents.

Equip your students with the above skills to support their reading comprehension progress.

Best strategies for reading improvement

A teacher and a student read a book together in a library while working on reading strategies.

There are lots of reading comprehension strategies you can use to help students improve their reading skills. It's vital to each student's success to grow their reading and annotation skills as they climb each grade level. 

You can use one or more strategies and key details to enhance each student's learning experience:

1. Assign reading partners, cross-grade or peers

Pair up two kids from different grade levels to work together. They can help each other improve reading comprehension regardless of their grade level. Both older and younger students benefit from this arrangement.

Younger kids can learn something new from older students. They also get to see how much their reading can improve in higher grade levels.

Older kids who struggle with reading feel less pressure to read books from higher grades when they're partnered with little kids. It's a great way to increase reading fluency.

2. Visualize reading passages

The key ingredient for visualizing passages is to encourage students to create mental pictures or movies in their minds. They can take their prior knowledge and combine it with their own visualizations. Kids may identify with characters and the story’s world.  

Use picture books or text with descriptive language to promote the use of this technique. Be sure to ask students questions such as:

  • "What did you see as you read the passage?"
  • “What do you think [character] looks like?”
  • “Can you draw a picture of the story’s setting?”

3. Try reading aloud

A teacher reads to a group of young students  during reading strategy activities.

Reading aloud promotes fluency and literacy. As teachers and parents read to children, it builds their language development and communication skills.

It's easy to keep kids engaged as they pay attention to their teacher's articulation and cadence. Be sure to involve your students by inviting them to comment on the story and ask questions.

4. Follow up reading with class discussions

After you finish reading a book to your students, start a class discussion to help students retain what they've learned. By directing comments and questions to students it encourages them to participate.

Here are a few tips to consider when following up with class discussions:

  • Invite students to write notes for the discussion. They may provide interesting points on why they agree or disagree with the topic.
  • Encourage students to jot down the things that they don't understand so that you can clarify these points for them.
  • Ask a thought-provoking question or series of questions to promote active class participation.
  • Break the class into smaller groups to promote deep conversations among students.

5. Do some choral reading

Choral reading occurs when teachers and students read a passage together. Students learn how to pronounce tough words, boost confidence, increase vocabulary and improve reading fluency.

Choral reading works very well when teachers pair two students together. Each student takes turns reading out loud while the other pupil actively listens. This scenario helps struggling students when they're working with a strong reader, and a 2007 study showed that partner reading improves reader fluency.

6. Create reading quizzes

A young girl sits at a desk and looks at a reading workbook during reading activities.

Reading quizzes show teachers where students’ strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to reading comprehension.

When creating interactive or print quizzes, you can use fill-in-the-blank, true/false or multiple choice test questions. Pose a variety of question types to challenge your students without making the quiz impossible to complete.

7. Play question the text

Use the "Question the text" method to keep kids interested in reading. Get them to ask questions, especially if they don't understand what they've read. Asking questions about the text brings meaning to the reading material. Students can also form their own opinions about the passage or text.

Track progress and seek areas for improvement

Make notes of each student's progress to gain a better sense of kids' strengths and weaknesses. This helps you address problems immediately. You can adjust lesson plans to accommodate and fix learning gaps and improve reading comprehension skills.

The digital tools outlined below simplify tracking student progress:  

  • Crowdsignal helps teachers create quizzes, questions and online polls. Students finish all assignments on tablets or computers. Once completed, teachers generate reports to determine any gray areas that require attention.
  • Formative allows educators to assign activities to students, receive results, and track progress in real-time.
  • Biblionasium provides teachers with access to the number of books that students have read. Educators can inspire kids to read and support active discussions among students.

There are a number of terrific ways to ensure teachers can successfully track students’ progress. These digital tools make tracking and assessments a quick and efficient use of time. 

As you teach, keep encouraging students to ask questions and challenge themselves as they read. When you work with them to build comprehension, you’re also working with them to build a love of reading!

Prodigy English is a brand-new game-based learning experience that helps students build key reading and language skills in a world of their own. As they play, you'll be able to track their progress and achievement.

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