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Show That Everything Has a Name
Make sure that children understand that everything in the classroom has a name, and that they understand what these things do. A good activity is to create labels for everything in the classroom. This will help students to associate the written word with an object, and encourage them to vocalize what it is they are wanting. If you avoid referring to things as "this" or "that," then the students will begin to as well. This can lead to different activities for different age groups and reading levels.
Younger students will appreciate the alphabet in their classroom, as it increases familiarity and can also be used as a teaching tool. Capital letters work best, as they are easier for students to recognize. Pictures that students create can also be labeled, or students can work on a scrapbook activity. This can also lead to small field trips where any written words are pointed out. For example, the word stop across a stop sign.
Older students can incorporate this into other activities. For example, in planning to prepare something in the kitchen, students can work to create a grocery list and then read the products to find what they are looking for at the grocery store.
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Encourage Daily Reading
It's very important for children to be interested in reading, but this is often difficult when children's reading levels and interest levels differ. A high-low reading list is a very good resource to help find books that students will be interested in. Reading magazines and newspapers are also great as they have many short articles, but make students feel grown-up. Reading aloud is a great thing to do, though students will usually come across words they don't know. A few tips for dealing with this are:
- Encourage them to sound the word out completely, rather than guessing after the first letter or syllable.
- Have them read the entire sentence with the unknown word omitted. Then ask them what word would fit in the blank.
- Once they have figured out the correct word, have them read the entire sentence again so they finish without struggling.
If students have particular trouble with sounding words out and resort to guessing, a good activity is to write a list of nonsense words, and have them sound them out. This teaches students to sound the entire word out, without guessing.
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Focus on Comprehension
Comprehension is a major part of reading, and is an important thing to develop in remedial readers. It is usually easier to start with a TV show or sports program before introducing comprehension exercises to short stories. Comprehension should include how to summarize, predict, context and monitor. Summarizing can be done by asking students to retell a story in just a few sentences, predicting can be started by asking the student what they think might happen next. Context is especially useful for students who often find words they don't know. Teaching students how to use context clues (words and pictures) is a great skill. Monitoring stops the problem of reading a whole story and not knowing what happened. Students can learn to stop reading and check to make sure they understand what they just read. If not, it is a good time to re-read the sentence or passage.
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Fun and Games
There are quite a few good websites that have free remedial reading activities. The only caution is that some of these games are designed for younger children, so it is important to encourage students who won't feel offended to use these resources.
Starfall is an excellent website. Their games progress from pre-reading, learning to read, enjoying to read, and becoming confident in reading ability. There is also a teacher's section which includes supplementary printable materials.
Scholastic has an incredibly comprehensive game section, and even has games extending further into language arts, math, science and social studies. They have games for all age levels, include pre-k to grade 12. I found that these games were designed for a wide range of abilities and ages, which is great!
PBS Kids has some great games for younger children. Their games progress from learning about letters, to learning about synonyms. All directions are spoken out loud.
FreeReading.net is a great resource for reading intervention for pre k to grade 6. The website has a number activities, as well as resources for teachers. A further review of freereading.net is also available.
- Okanagan Regional Library: High Interest/Low Vocabulary Books, http://www.orl.bc.ca/assets/files/Booklists/Hi_Interest_Low_Vocabulary.pdf