Two Tips for Tuesday – Struggling Readers

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Kristin here for a “Two Tips for Tuesday” post!

Soooo….woohoo!  It’s October.  Reading groups are up and running like a well-oiled machine, right?  Schedules are worked out….after two bottles of Tylenol and way too many glasses of iced tea…and all is going well!  Whaaaaat?  Not so fast you say?  There are a few hitches in the git-along?  Yep…it happens every year about this time.  Teachers start to notice that not all of their little sweeties are adoringly soaking up learning from their fantastic “whole class” lessons,  and progressing at or above grade level in reading.  Yikes!  What to do?  What to do? 

Welllll……those are the questions that start pouring in to me and my team about this time every year.  So okay already Kristin  (I can just hear you saying) what do I do about it?  Let’s just try to answer that with some little fun tips over the next couple of weeks, shall we?  (Was that a giant AMEN I just heard?)  Moving along…….

We notice with our struggling readers that there are some categories of “struggling-ness,”  that are pretty common.  In the area of learning behaviors, we most often see struggles with:   attention, memory and retention, cognitive processing, and language processing.

Howzabout we start with attention difficulties in reading groups this week, eh?   See if this looks like any of your sweetums…..Wiggly all over – even their eyes, or…..quiet and passive…in another world, can’t seem to focus so it’s difficult to get learning to “stick.”  There are soooo many wonderful tips and tricks out there already, that I hesitate to add more to this category, but here are some things that work for me in groups.  Most of all……whatever we do must be active and novel.   All the “tried and trues” fit here….act out the story – even just using our fingers and the characters and making them talk, turning the story into reader’s theater…and well…you know all those great ideas already.  Here’s a couple of others though:

Tip 1    
Sometimes I pretend I am one of the characters from the story – even using an appropriate voice – for the whole group time.  I don’t tell the kiddos which character I am.  They have to read the story and figure that out.  That get’s ’em focused fast! 

Tip 2
*My all time comprehension fave:   “Hit the Pig!”
See these bad boys? 


Nope…..we are not taking baths with them.  We use them for a comprehension game that all kids…..especially “attention” kids…..L.O.V.E.  It helps that it involves smacking a squeaker as fast as you can!  How do you play?  Wellllll… tell the sweeties that when they are done reading the story/passage/text that you will be asking them questions about it.  They will need to “Prove It” by showing where the evidence is in the text.  When the students are done reading, pass out one of those awesome squeakers to each student in the group and start the questions.  The students MUST….no exceptions not even one….. find the answer to the question in the text first, then smack their squeaker.  Whomever hits the squeaker gets to answer first! If correct and proven by telling and showing the correct part of the text…..millions of points are given to that student.  Game plays until you decide you are done!  Winners get high-fives all around.   They absolutely pay attention to their reading and to the lesson when I play this game.

So there are 2 quick tips for keeping kids attending and focused.  

And now…because the dogs (we have two newfies and a golden) are complaining that they never get to be in the blog…….here are two of the monster  precious, angelic pups helping me get ready for an upcoming lesson comparing non-fiction and fiction texts.  They, of course, are suggesting books with their favorite topic.  Which by the way….are two great texts to use! Hmmmm……might have to take their advice more often!


Have a great week everyone and Happy Teaching!

Attention Difficult

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