BeLinda Martin, an English Language Arts and History teacher, faces a challenge familiar to many educators across America. Students come to her class not liking to read. Some have never passed a reading test, and others even fake reading because they don’t want to look dumb.
By fifth grade, struggling readers are disheartened. They label themselves as poor readers. They have reading angst, which makes reading comprehension that much harder. For these students to become successful readers, applying a whole child literacy strategy could be the key to unlocking their potential. "If you don’t like to read because you cannot understand the story, you are not going to feel good about yourself as a learner," says Mrs. Martin. Her whole child literacy strategy includes dynamic teaching which entails making reading fun and enjoyable. This approach helps to change the way her students perceive themselves as learners.
Dynamic Teaching…Let the Play Begin!
"Unless children intrinsically enjoy the act of reading and get value from it (pleasure, knowledge, confidence, respect from peers), they will not produce the desired achievement levels,” says Mrs. Martin. “Audiobooks are a beneficial resource to remove reading stigmas, especially with students who have difficulty decoding words. Watch their eyes move across the screen. You can almost see their minds processing information. Decoding becomes less intense. Students read with more comprehension, fluency and frequency.”
In Mrs. Martin's classes, you won’t find neat rows of chairs. What you will find are students busily rotating through reading stations. For thirty minutes, they focus on skill building exercises. Her reading instruction revolves around education “game-like” activities that fifth graders can relate to: roll the dice, theater role-play, artistic expression, and human-read audiobooks. Story selections feature protagonists who display perseverance. Learning Ally's skillful narrators make characters and plots come alive for readers.
Students can curl up in cozy chairs with a print or digital book and enjoy the extra time and support they need to have a really awesome reading experience. They read aloud and work on individual reading skills. They learn new vocabulary words using artistic expressions. They carry on conversations with peers and their teacher to demonstrate knowledge. They build skills to reinforce reading engagement, comprehension, social and communication skills. Reading at home independently is encouraged.
In her Texas Region 14, many of Mrs. Martin's students have achieved top reading scores. They all passed to the following grade -- an exceptional accomplishment for struggling readers. “My students were over the moon with pride, and so were their parents!”
Thanks to Mrs. Martin and her dynamic teaching instruction, more struggling learners and non-readers now enjoy reading. They are working successfully, and their learning confidence is on par with grade-level requirements. With the right resources and creative expression, reading can be fun!