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March Volume 69 Number 6 Reading: Allington and Rachael E. Gabriel The six elements of effective reading instruction don't require much time or money—just educators' decision to put them in place. We now know more than ever about how to accomplish this goal. Yet few students in the United States regularly receive the best reading instruction we know how to give.
Instead, despite good intentions, educators often make decisions about instruction that compromise or supplant the kind of experiences all children need to become engaged, successful readers.
This is especially true for struggling readers, who are much less likely than their peers to participate in the kinds of high-quality instructional activities that would ensure that they learn to read.
Six Elements for Every Child Here, we outline six elements of instruction that every child should experience every day. Each of these elements can be implemented in any district and any school, with any curriculum or set of materials, and without additional funds.
All that's necessary is for adults to make the decision to do it. Every child reads something he or she chooses. The research base on student-selected reading is robust and conclusive: Students read more, understand more, and are more likely to continue reading when they have the opportunity to choose what they read.
In a meta-analysis, Guthrie and Humenick found that the two most powerful instructional design factors for improving reading motivation and comprehension were 1 student access to many books and 2 personal choice of what to read.
We're not saying that students should never read teacher- or district-selected texts. But at some time every day, they should be able to choose what they read. The experience of choosing in itself boosts motivation. In addition, offering choice makes it more likely that every reader will be matched to a text that he or she can read well.
If students initially have trouble choosing texts that match their ability level and interest, teachers can provide limited choices to guide them toward successful reading experiences.
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Some teachers say they find it difficult to provide a wide selection of texts because of budget constraints.
Strangely, there is always money available for workbooks, photocopying, and computers; yet many schools claim that they have no budget for large, multileveled classroom libraries. There is, in fact, no way they ever could. When we consider that the typical 4th grade classroom has students reading anywhere from the 2nd to the 9th grade reading levels and that later grades have an even wider rangethe idea that one workbook or textbook could meet the needs of every reader is absurd Hargis, So, too, is the idea that skills developed through isolated, worksheet-based skills practice and fill-in-the-blank vocabulary quizzes will transfer to real reading in the absence of any evidence that they ever have.Peer Resources' Mentor Program Listings: Peer Resources' comprehensive listing of sample mentor programs in businesses, schools, universities and communities.
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