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Differentiated Reading Activities for Mixed Ability Classes

written by: Doritsas • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 3/2/2012

Every elementary and junior high school teacher needs to know how to differentiate reading instruction by incorporating a wide range of reading tasks as possible to appeal to their mixed ability classes.

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    Extensive Reading

    ELLs are encouraged to make individual book selections according to level and interest from the school/public library. In any one class, a wide range of reading ability is “valid". Teachers can also opt for silent reading in class which can bridge to home reading. Teachers who do this on a consistent basis communicate to the class that extensive reading is important and it is a high priority.

    Student Prepared Talks to the Class:

    This activity is based on student interest. The focus should be initially on developing fluency and later, on accuracy depending on the level and ability of the class. For those who are shy and hesitant, other options should be made available for the students, such as recording their talks at home and report the information on a one-on-one basis.

    Varieties of Dictation Procedures and Requirements:

    Building Reading Groups

    In addition to its mechanical spelling activities, dictations can incorporate all four skills. Variations and different levels of the same dictated passages can be administered with little teacher preparation.

    Teachers can use a reading selection to cater to those groups of learners who can cope independently while the teacher can gather the other group to read together using an adaptation of the story/text.

    Teachers have a better chance of closing the reading gaps while others can cope more independently.

    Setting Varied Home or Class Tasks

    This category includes variety and options for selection. The greater the options, the more meaningful and varied the review that follows. Ideas include:

    1. number and type of questions

    2. diversity in vocabulary

    3. content based responses

    4. syntax problems

    Pairing Reluctant or Non-writers with More Able Peers

    The non-writer relates his/her questions, answers; comments to his or her peer of whom then records the contribution. Also recommended is producing a class newspaper or a journal.

    Student Preparation of Materials: Review Questions, Cloze Passages, Worksheets, etc.

    This significantly reduces teacher preparation time and involves the learner in the doing. Students learn to grow more responsible for and response to their learning.

    Writing Activities

    Examples include: letter writing, sentence writing from a common list, story writing, choice of composition topics, diary journals, etc.

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    Extensive Reading Activities

    Some sample ideas for semi-extensive and extensive reading activities are:

    Drawing and Designing

    ·Design a new cover for your book.

    ·Draw a series of pictures illustrating the story or main events of the story.

    ·Draw a map showing where the story takes place.

    ·Design a movie poster for your book.

    ·Make a time line of major events in the book

    ·Create a bingo game which includes words like names of characters, places and items from the story.

    ·Design an advertisement for T.V., radio or newspaper, trying to sell the book.

    ·Make up a “wanted" poster for one of the characters.


    ·Write a letter to one of the characters.

    ·Write a diary for one of the characters.

    ·Make up a different ending for the story.

    ·Make up a different beginning for the story.

    ·Have an interview with one of the characters.


  • Teaching experience.
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