Four Reading Intervention Strategies

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These are my four favorite reading intervention strategies when a child is struggling with fluency.  In reality, they are excellent best practices that are perfect for Tier 1:  great classroom instruction.

Reading comprehension and fluency strategies can be used both in small group and whole class on a regular, systematic basis.  

These are considered to be Tier 1 interventions.  Increasing the intensity and decreasing the group size moves the intervention into a Tier 2.

Tier One Reading Intervention Strategies
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Evidence Based Reading Intervention Strategies

These four reading instructional strategies will give you a variety of ways to meet the needs of your students.

Like anything else, they only work if they are done consistently and the become part of your regular classroom routines.

Repeated Reading

Many children who have significant reading problems can be traced back to issues with automaticity.  

William Cattell, a psychologist from the 19th century, first discovered that humans will read a word much faster than they can name and image of it.  For example, we can read the word "kumquat" faster than we could name a picture of it.  Our brains have the unique capacity to become automatic readers, much more than speaking.  

Look at these images and answer the questions:

What color is the box?  Of course, it's yellow!
Now what color is the box?  Still yellow, but I bet you thought

The first box was likely easy to name.  You probably didn't even notice what happened with the second box, but it takes a moment longer to register that the box is still yellow because we want to read the word "pink."  That is because reading is automatic for you.  

I asked my oldest son to name the color of the second box while making this page.  He looked for a moment and said:

"It's kind of a beige yellow."  I asked him if he first thought of the word pink and he said, "I did, but I kind of analyzed it and knew the box wasn't pink so even though the word was there I didn't say it. But I had to think for a minute of what color the box is because I had to get pink out of my mind."

That was really interesting.  Essentially he was saying that the word was the first thing he processed, but he did have to pause for a moment to grab the right answer to the question.  

The quick process of reading the word interfered with naming the color of the box.

How does this apply to the classroom?  Well, students with very slow naming speed timings of simple objects (i.e. Rapid Automatized Naming test by Denckla & Rudel) are highly likely to have significant fluency and comprehension deficiencies.  

They have not mastered automaticity.  

Automaticity should be acquired during the different developmental stages of reading, not in isolation or after the fact.  If we wait to pursue automaticity, then we have lost a valuable window of opportunity for our kids to become fluent readers.  This is why repeated reading at every level is a valuable teaching strategy.

Many studies have shown that this technique is highly valuable and produces measurable results.

  • Repeated reading is when a student reads a passage repeatedly and receives help with correcting errors.
  • The student reads the passage and if he or she pauses for 5 seconds or longer, the teacher reads the word aloud and helps the student say it correctly.
  • Give the students the choice of "Coach or Time" before providing an unknown word.
  • The student should read the same passage at least 4-5 times or until the rate of accuracy is at least 90-95 words per minute. Chart the results on a bar graph.

This is a great technique for parents to use with their kids at home!

Assisted Reading

Assisted reading practice provides students a valuable way to boost reading fluency skills. Like Repeated Reading, the student sits with a teacher or another excellent reader. As the student reads, the partner listens.

If the student makes an error, the partner corrects the student. This is not like Repeated Reading as the text is not read over and over again, but it is one of the more valuable reading intervention strategies. 

QAR: Questions-Answer Relationship

Reading strategies must include a way to assist students in figuring out how to answer questions based on a given text. QAR targets this using in-text evidence to substantiate answers and teaches students to draw conclusions and make inferences. There are four types of questions:

  • Right There Questions
  • These questions require students to go back to the passage and find the correct information to answer it. These are literal questions, because the correct answer is found "right there." These questions include "Who," "What," "When," "Where," "How many," and "According to the passage." 

  • Think and Search Questions
  • These questions require you to think about how the passage information all relates. These questions sometimes include: "What caused…", "The main idea is…", or "Compare and contrast."

  • Author and You Questions
  • This requires the students to use information that is not directly stated in the passage. Students must think about what they have read and generate their own ideas or opinions. These types of questions often include: "The author implies…", "This passage suggests…", "This character feels…"

  • On My Own Questions
    These are answered using students' own background knowledge. This is usually not a test type of question because it does not require any reference to the text. However, these questions lead to deeper comprehension. These types of questions sound like: "In your opinion…", "From your experience…", and "Think about something that happened to you…"

Visualize the Text

Visualization, or mental imagery, is one of the best reading intervention strategies. It is an excellent way of having your students become more active in the reading process.

Creating "movies in their minds" can dramatically increase comprehension. It is surprising, however, how many students do not understand how to do this.

Students must be taught by using an interactive read aloud (often called a "Think Aloud"). What that means is you are actively discussing your thoughts while you read and describing the pictures your mind makes from the words.

Sources Cited

Denckla, M. B. & Rudel, R.G. (1976). Rapid automatized naming (R.A.N.): Dyslexia differentiated from other learning disabilities. Neuropsychologia, 14: 471-479.
Gambrell, L.B. & Jawitz, P.B. (1993). Mental imagery, text illustrations, and children's story comprehension and recall. Reading
Research Quarterly
, 23, 265-273.
Herman, P.A. (1985). The effects of repeated readings on reading rate, speech pauses, and word recognition accuracy. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 553-565
Rasinski, T.V. (1990). Effets of repeated reading and listening-while-reading on reading fluency. Journal of Educational Research83(3), 147-150
Shany, M.T. & Biemiller, A. (1995). Assisted reading practice: Effects on performance for poor readers in grades 3 and 4. Reading Research Quarterly, 30, 382-395

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