When I first started teaching third grade, I discovered a whole new world when it came to teaching reading and reading interventions. It was interesting, to say the least! Very quickly I found myself feeling insecure about my teaching abilities and scrambling for knowledge. I read every blog and informational website I could find to educate myself in teaching reading. I read the many very thick books produced by Fountas and Pinnell. I cruised bookstore after bookstore. Yep, I even racked up my Amazon credit card! I sought the advice of my colleagues. However, there was one piece of advice I kept hearing over and over: read, read, read.
While I believed that having them read was definitely effective, I was not satisfied enough with this idea. I felt there just had to be more. I offered up some of my free time before school and after school tutoring students and, perhaps to some degree, experimenting with various methods and strategies that I had read and learned about. Through the process, I learned a few “tricks.” While this is by NO means a complete list of reading interventions, it is a good start.
Over the years, I have turned to the Fry Instant Sight Words and Phrases for a quick 10-minute intervention for my students who are struggling a bit transitionally. Even in third grade, I have found that it is needed. I like the Fry lists because it is a mix of short one syllable words and two syllable words that are commonly found in our reading texts. Children need to become automatic with these words to help gain fluency. I made sure these students understood and used decoding strategies, but I also implemented these words and phrases as flashcards. I always started at the 200 level and worked them up to the 300, then 400, so on. They had to be 75% accurate to move up a level. Of course, of those 25% that they did not master, I would forward them on to the next set. The same applied to the Fry Phrases.
One thing I really loved about the Fry Instant Sight Words is that they could be used as a review game with a volunteer parent or para-pro. I would have students play with the cards like the game War. Students flipped over their card and quickly read the word. The student who said the word first correctly won both cards. The student at the end with the most cards won. I have also used both the words and phrases as a peer tutoring opportunity, a center for practice, and homework with parents. If you are interested, you can check out my Reading Sight Practice Resource at TpT by clicking here.
Another strategy for reading interventions that I have found effective is fluency practice. I would provide students with a reading passage and pair them up. Then I would have students decide who was partner A and who was partner B. Partner A would read first while partner B would listen and notice any words not said correctly or skipped. I would set the timer for one minute. Then after a minute reading, partner B would count up the number of words read and how many errors. Then they switched. Partner B was now reading while A kept track of incorrect or skipped words. This same procedure took place for another minute. After both partners read, I would then set the timer again for another minute and have BOTH partner A and B read their passage out loud at the same time. I have always encouraged my students to cover their ears so they can concentrate. Students are always amazed by how they are able to read the second time much faster. This is always a great teachable moment about how important it is to read more than once (this is due to close reading, better fluency, catching things you missed before, and so on)! Finally, after reading the passage twice (and hearing it once) they have to sit down and, without looking back at the passage, write a quick retell. This involves writing the main idea and three details. I set the timer and they write briefly for one minute. This is another segue into how important it is to write “short-hand” and to develop note-taking skills. After writing for a minute, they have to find a new partner and share their retell. The students enjoy this method, I get in extra reading practice, and there are many more valuable lessons to it.
Finally, but absolutely not the last of the reading interventions that I have found effective, is the book in the bag. Our school is fortunate to have a Reading A-Z account. Each week I print a book for my struggling students on their reading level. I place it in a large Ziploc bag along with a sign sheet. I also record these students reading the book on Monday. For homework that week, they are to read their book out loud to an adult, have the adult sign off on the reading sheet, and return with it each day. Then on Friday of the week, I will then listen (and/or record) to that student reading the book again. I like to show students the different recordings and talk about what they notice that is different. I think this is a great method to increase their confidence, which is essential since I believe confidence is a HUGE selling point. It’s pretty simple, but it works!
There are definitely more reading interventions, and of course you can always find many expensive programs out there. If you are like me, you feel compelled to find something that isn’t as time consuming or expensive, yet is still effective.
Keep checking back and I’ll be writing about many other options soon!