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Thursday, September 16

How to Build Strong Readers with Reading Strategies




Have you ever played with blocks before? Have you used those colorful shapes to build a little house or a soaring tower? Well if you have constructed any building from blocks, you know that one thing is certain, a sturdy foundation is key in your tower successfully standing tall and not crumbling to the floor. Reading instruction is a lot like building a tower. If readers have a strong foundation of reading strategies and skills to build from, they can springboard their mastery and love of reading. However, when students don’t have a sturdy foundation of reading strategies, that's when we see our kiddos struggle and quickly turn into resistant and reluctant readers. Reading strategies are crucial but how do we teach reading strategies? Which reading strategies do our students need the most? Well, stay tuned teacher friend because I’m going to share all of my favorite tips and strategies for teaching a strong foundation of reading strategies and building a love of reading in your kiddos that is made to last.

What are Reading Strategies?


Reading strategies are just that, strategies and skills that students can use to understand and grow in their mastery and craft as readers. Let’s use this example, you are reading a story and the main character comes inside soaking wet with a frown on their face. Using the clues the author gave us, as the reader, we can piece together that our main character is most likely unhappy because they got caught in the rain. We just used a reading strategy called inferencing to understand the story and character better. This understanding may not seem like a big deal, but as readers dive further into understanding the characters in this story and more complex stories, this reading strategy skill of inferencing will be crucial for deep thinking and understanding of story characters. There are many other reading strategies like the example above, but they all share one thing in common, they are essential for our students to become strong, avid readers who understand the what and why of the text they are reading. 



How I Teach Reading Strategies


So we have established that reading strategies are uber important for our students to grow as readers, but how do we teach them? There are many methods for teaching reading strategies to your students. Below are the tools and practices that I use when teaching reading strategies to my students.


Using Video to Introduce Reading Strategies:


Ok I know you are probably making a face after reading that heading, but hear me out. Today's students are complex thinkers and learners. Not all are auditory learners and if I have an option to teach to one of their other intelligences (visual/ technological) then I jump on it. I have found that Pixar Shorts can be an incredibly powerful and HIGHLY engaging tool to use when you are introducing reading strategies to your students. These are brief animated videos that demonstrate one skill or lesson. These videos can be a great place to start when teaching reading strategies to your students. You can explore them HERE.


Using Anchor Charts to Teach Reading Strategies:

Visuals are everything. When I introduce new reading strategies to my students, I always have an anchor chart handy. I personally hate drawing anchor charts, mine just never seem to come out right, so I print mine instead and make my teacher life a little easier hallelujah! I have a reading strategies skill anchor chart next to me when I introduce and teach the skill to aid my students as a visual tool while they learn. I will refer to the anchor chart in our lesson that follows the Pixar Short film, during our reading of a mentor text, and after to really sink in those new skills. Finally, I make sure my students have exact copies of my teaching anchor chart, which they will glue into their reading strategies notebook. Here they house all of their reading strategies anchor charts and tools so they can access them whenever they need to be it during independent work time or at home for homework. Making sure my students have access to the same tools I use in my lessons is a huge game-changer in their ability to practice their reading strategies. 


Using Picture Books to Teach Reading Strategies:


I am a huge lover of picture books (if you follow me on Instagram you already know this). I use picture books as my mentor texts when I first introduce a reading strategy. Yes, even with fourth graders and older students, picture books can pack a big punch! If you pick the right picture books, they can offer a strong dose of exactly what you need in such a short amount of time (something that chapter books, unfortunately, cannot do). After I have introduced the reading strategy that will be focusing on, I ask my students to be “reading detectives” and see if they can hunt down the reading strategies in the story as we read. My students love playing this sort of game as we read together and it helps to boost their engagement as we learn new reading strategies together. 


Practicing Reading Strategies:


After I have taught my students a new reading strategy through short videos, lessons, anchor charts, and mentor text examples, it is time for them to practice the “you do” part of learning a new skill. I have my students practice the new skill by being “reading detectives” in their own books. They will look for the reading strategies inside of the book they are currently reading during our independent reading time. To keep my teacher brain less strained, I will assign them a reading strategies skill worksheet that can be used universally across all of their texts. This is such a time saver for me! I also love that the students will have consistency in the visuals of the skill I am asking them to demonstrate. If in the following days or reading units I want them to use their predicting skills, the worksheet will look the same for that skill even though their text may be different. I have found that direct reading strategies worksheets work far better for student accountability and organization than doing, "stop and jot" sticky notes in their books. I love having my students keep their worksheets inside of their reading strategies notebooks (I used 1" 3 ring binders). This is because it provides an amazing visual for my students when we conference and discuss their growth in a particular reading strategy. We can simply flip back to the first time they practiced the skill and see how much they have grown. My students truly love when we do things like this.


Reading strategies are crucial for building a sturdy foundation for your students to grow from and build a love of reading. I hope you learned some helpful tips and strategies about how I teach reading strategies. If you want to explore any of the reading strategies tools you saw in this post, simply click HERE. 




Click HERE to explore the full reading strategies bundle now!

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