Helping Struggling Readers Succeed in the Classroom

Best Practices

Being able to read is essential for students to be successful in their learning career. If a student is not able to read, they are not able to fully access the information and learning tools that are available to them. General education teachers face the problem of boosting the struggling readers in their classroom while also accelerating the higher readers.

There are 5 components to literacy: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, & comprehension. Here are a few ideas for helping struggling readers succeed in the first two areas.

Photo: Pixabay

Phonemic Awareness: Being able to identify and manipulate separate sounds within words

  • “Ninja Chops”: This is a fun, physical activity that is particularly effective for younger students. Students start with arms crossed and hands on their shoulders. The teacher says the words and then as a group, they separate the word into phonemes (separate sounds) and with each sound, they do a “chop,” alternating each arm. The word cat would have three chops to represent the three sounds. Alternately, individual students could “chop” individual words, with the words chosen based on each student’s ability.
  • Picture matching: Give each student a picture card. Have students identify what their picture is. Then have them walk around the room and try to find a classmate with a matching picture based on the rule that their teacher gives them. For example, the rule could be, “Find a picture that starts with the same sound as your picture.” Change the rule to meet the needs of the students (middle sound, end sound, rhyming). Differentiate this activity by explicitly choosing which pictures go to which students. Give higher readers a picture with more sounds or more complex sounds such as diagraphs.

Phonics: Matching sounds with their matching print

  • Sorting Vowel Sounds: Post a piece of chart paper with five columns, one for each short vowel sound. Give each student a word card or picture card (depending on their abilities) and have them read/identify the word and then post it on the chart. Create charts using long vowel sounds, or both, as the students grow in their reading abilities.
  • Object Sound Sort: Label a few bowls with letters. Give the student several objects and have them sort the objects into the bowl with the corresponding sounds. Start with basic sounds and then move to more difficult sounds such as diagraphs (th, sh, ch) and blends (sn, nd, sl).

For tips for improving vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension, check out the full article at Full article

Note: Article written and posted in English


Carissa Ness has served as a Reading Intervention Specialist in Vancouver, Washington - USA. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education from Walla Walla University and a Master's of Special Education from University of Phoenix.


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    • | June 21, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Awww, thanks ! These ideas look familiar? 🙂

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