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Making Reading Comprehension Click for Struggling Readers

Categories: Activities, Assistive Technology, Education & Teaching, Reading Strategies for K-12, Teacher Best Practices, The Great Reading Games

Penny Moldofsky with studentsStudents at Woodlynde School in Pennsylvania are revving up to participate in The 2019 Great Reading Games -- a national audiobook event hosted by Learning Ally. The annual challenge supports teachers’ efforts to motivate struggling readers to improve their reading habits and comprehension skills.   

Multi-Tiered Learning Approach

Students who attend the accredited independent Pennsylvania school are learning to be fluent readers, but may be coping with dyslexia, that makes it hard to understand and respond to grade-level text. While these students are intellectually capable, they require a personalized approach to learning and access to text that is appropriately challenging for their stronger comprehension and thinking skills. 

Leading the school's effort is Penny Moldofsky, Director of the Literacy Institute and an accredited Wilson Reading Trainer. Ms. Moldofsky is a passionate advocate for students who learn differently, and has a big heart for students who find it excruciating to read. 

As a Wilson® Accredited Partner school, her students receive intensive intervention, lots of reading practice, and access to text structures and new vocabulary that are essential components of literacy. Ms. Moldofsky recommends a multi-tiered learning approach using the Wilson Reading System® as a proven multisensory, structured literacy program, and 

Learning Ally human-read audiobooks to ensure grade-level access to reading materials

She says, “Audiobooks make mental movies of text in students’ minds. I like knowing that students aren’t spending so much time figuring out words, but are excited to read.”

For 45 years, Ms. Moldofsky has molded the minds of children and teens to look beyond their learning disabilities and to find proven strategies and resources that work best for their needs. She frequently references brain studies by dyslexia experts, Sally Shaywitz and Barbara Wilson, who encourage teaching literacy skills along with providing accessible materials on grade-level that build students’ love for reading and learning.

Motivating Students to Read – The Great Reading Games

Last year, during the Great Reading Games, Ms. Moldofsky’s students competed against 1200 U.S. schools. They read 5.3 million pages. They rallied in their lobby and gymnasium to see who was reading the most books. They went online to view the national leaderboard and talked about the audiobooks they read. At the end of the event, 220 students celebrated a top win in PA schools and 27th place in the nation.

To motivate students, Ms. Moldofsky dressed in a sports referee jersey. She coached students to listen to audiobooks daily. Students loved the excitement of looking at the reading tally board in the school’s lobby. They wore badges and keychains to display their competitive spirit. She saw marked improvement in students' reading habits, including stronger comprehension skills and larger vocabularies. "Students discovered they were quite capable of learning and succeeding and were thrilled with their gains," she said. 

 

Independent Reading

Ms. Moldofsky believes independent reading strengthens students' understanding of how to read and how to comprehend different authors’ text styles. She likes the careful narration in Learning Ally audiobooks by voice professionals with proper intonation of words and phrases. She says, “Narrators carefully convey the full experience of the story line. If students have problems with comprehension, audiobooks can make stories come alive because students’ brains can process information on a deeper level.”
 

Packing the Digital Bookshelf

Each semester and summer break, Ms. Moldofsky and the teachers at Woodlynde School pack students’ digital bookshelves with titles they want to read. Ms. Moldofsky calls it ‘bookmatching,’ and believes that students are more motivated to read books that interest them personally. 

She says, “Few books in print meet a struggling reader at their independent reading level. Books for young children are easy to find, but when you are older, it is more difficult. Students must be able to practice reading with controlled text at their comfortable reading level. Learning Ally helps to make up for that gap and interest level.”

Through the online library she can find popular titles to interest all ages. Each student receives a password. They can use the mobile app for homework and reading “on the go” using classroom tools like bookmarking, taking study notes, citing references for book reports, word definitions and setting personal preferences.

Ready for a Bright Future

Learning Ally and The Great Reading Games keep my students motivated to challenge themselves,” says Ms. Moldofsky. “Students, who rarely enjoyed a book, began reading without anxiety with audiobooks. Words clicked as they saw them, heard them and comprehended them. They believed in themselves as learners. I know they are on their way to a bright future and eager to set even higher goals."