Text Access Ideas for Below Grade Readers

Its difficult to meet the readers needs of all students. For some its too easy, others to way to hard, and for many its just right. Using guided reading to move students takes time--time that I don't have when students are struggling in the classroom. My reading program just doesn't cut it when it comes to meeting the needs of my readers who are three or four years behind.

Like many my daily schedule is already jam-packed, and it's challenging to add one more thing. Here are three ideas that won’t take a lot of extra time and will support your striving readers as they move toward reading independently and comprehending increasingly complex texts.

1. Read aloud texts that may be challenging, providing all students the opportunity to boost their comprehension and engage in collaborative conversations.

Reading aloud is such an integral part of my daily instruction that my students and I keep a read-aloud tally (pictured below), using one tally mark for each read-aloud experience. The essential literacy practice of reading aloud is also endorsed by the authors of the Common Core's ELA Standards in Appendix A (p. 27). I do the grade level reading and grade vocabulary works as a read aloud and ask higher order thinking questions.

 2. Guide readers individually and in small groups. To make the most of the time you will spend guiding readers one-on-one or in small groups, it is wise to pinpoint their strengths and areas of need. The best way to do this is by using a reading assessment that includes a running record. This will enable you to know your students' instructional level and, as important, whether your readers are struggling with decoding, fluency, vocabulary or comprehension. Armed with this information, meet with students as often as possible to prompt and coach them to apply decoding strategies for figuring out unknown words and comprehension strategies to better understand the text. If your reading program provides leveled texts, these will work well for guiding readers in small group. I spend three days a week working as a guided reading group, where we read instructional level text. I always have a written assignment on these days to push them to use the resource (spelling, sighting text).

3. I have a couple of students that this is not enough for them to access the material. So I use Boardmaker and Google Images to highlight the key part of the text in a picture based sentence strip. I tape the strip on the the story, so that the students have the original text but can read the sentence that I added to understand the text.

I hope these ideas help you in the classroom. I've been playing with student access and have created a couple of adaptive books for a student who is working on her shapes and colors. Enjoy them free below.

Color Adaptive Book

Shape Adaptive Book


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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