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Providing Reading Interventions Grades 4-9

by Joan Sedita | 1 | 0 Comments

A new research guide titled Providing Reading Interventions for Students in Grades 4-9 was released recently from the Institute of Education Sciences that summarizes research-based instructional interventions for older students who struggle with reading. The report was written by a panel of reading researchers and practitioners, chaired by Dr. Sharon Vaughn after reviewing the research related to intervention instruction for older students. This IES report caught my eye for several reasons, including the alignment of its instructional suggestions to a new Keys to Literacy training course titled Adolescent Reading Intervention.

A research guide like this is overdue! It builds on and updates the findings from several older reports including the 2008 IES report Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices (Kamil et al.), the 2008 practice brief Effective Instruction for Adolescent Struggling Readers (Boardman et al.), and the 2013 article in the Journal of Learning Disabilities A Meta-analysis of Interventions for Struggling Readers in Grades 4-12: 1980-2011 (Scammacca, Roberts, Vaughn).

This new report gives four instructional recommendations that address both word reading and comprehension, listed below:

  1. Build students’ decoding skills so they can read complex multisyllabic words.
  2. Provide purposeful fluency-building activities to help students read effortlessly.
  3. Routinely use a set of comprehension-building practices to help students make sense of the text.
  4. Provide students with opportunities to practice making sense of stretch text (i.e., challenging text) that will expose them to complex ideas and information.

For this post, I’ve summarized some of the instructional interventions in the guide and made some connections to similar suggestions that are integrated into Keys to Literacy training courses.

1 Build Strong Decoding Skills for Complex Multisyllabic Words

As the guide notes, when confronted with unfamiliar and complex multisyllable words, students with reading difficulties often read words incorrectly because they do not have a process for breaking the word into parts. The guide recommends the following:

  • Identify the level of students’ word-reading skills and teach vowel and consonant letter-sounds and combinations, as necessary.
  • Teach students a routine they can use to decode multi-syllable words.
  • Embed spelling instruction in the lesson.
  • Engage students in a wide array of activities that allow them to practice reading multisyllable words accurately and with increasing automaticity.

In my November, 2021 post (What is advanced word study?) I shared several instructional suggestions and resources aligned with these recommendations, including a link to a video offered by PaTTAN about the “Spot and Dot” routine. These suggestions come from the Keys to Literacy training course titled Advanced Words Study: Grade 4 and Beyond.

2 Provide Fluency Building Activities

This recommendation focuses on improving students’ ability to read text with increased ease. The guide recommends the following:

  • Reading the same passage several times; providing a purpose for each repeated reading.
  • Focus some instructional time on reading with prosody.
  • Regularly provide opportunities for students to read a wide range of texts.

3 Routinely Use a Set of Comprehension-Building Practices

This recommendation is organized into three parts:

  • Part A: Build students’ world and word knowledge so they can make sense of the text.
    • Develop world knowledge that is relevant for making sense of the passage.
    • Teach the meaning of a few words that are essential for understanding the passage.
    • Teach students how to derive meanings of unknown words using context.
    • Teach prefixes and suffixes to help students derive meanings of words.
  • Part B: Consistently provide students with opportunities to ask and answer questions to better understand the text they read.
    • Explicitly teach students how to find and justify answers to different types of questions.
    • Provide ample opportunities for students to collaboratively answer questions.
    • Teach students to ask questions about the text while reading.
  • Part C: Teach students a routine for determining the gist of a short section of text.
    • Model how to use a routine to generate gist statements.
    • Teach students how to use text structures to generate gist statements.
    • Work collaboratively with students to generate gist statements.
  • Part D: Teach students to monitor their comprehension as they read.
    • Help students determine when they do not understand the text.
    • Teach students to ask themselves questions as they read to check their understanding and figure out what the text is about.
    • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on what they have learned.

Part A recommendations are aligned with several instructional practices in The Key Vocabulary Routine training course including: suggestions for previewing unfamiliar words before reading; suggestions for selecting essential academic vocabulary and activities for teaching these words in-depth; using the context and knowledge of word parts to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.

Parts B, C, and D recommendations are aligned with several instructional practices in The Key Comprehension Routine training course including: explicit instruction for text structure; strategies and a routine for categorizing and identifying/stating the main idea (gist); two-column note taking to help students monitor comprehension while reading; summarizing after reading to support reflection; generating/answering questions about text.

4 Provide Opportunities to Practice Making Sense of Challenging Text

  • Prepare for the lesson by carefully selecting appropriate stretch texts, choosing points to stop for discussion and clarification, and identifying words to teach.
  • Provide significant support as the group works through a stretch text together.
  • After students demonstrate comfort with reading stretch texts with the group, provide students with electronic supports to use when independently reading stretch text to assist with pronunciation of difficult words and word meanings. 

Both The Key Vocabulary Routine and The Key Comprehension Routine suggest that teachers preview challenging texts prior to using them with students to identify unfamiliar vocabulary, identify and explain complex and challenging sentences, and identifying places in the text that provide opportunities to highlight and discuss main ideas and relevant supporting detail. These training courses also emphasize the value of peer collaboration and discussion about text.

Additional Related Resources

Joan Sedita

Joan Sedita is the founder of Keys to Literacy and author of the Keys to Literacy professional development programs. She is an experienced educator, nationally recognized speaker and teacher trainer. She has worked for over 35 years in the literacy education field and has presented to thousands of teachers and related professionals at schools, colleges, clinics, and professional conferences.

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