Do you ever struggle with modifying texts for your students’ reading level?

Well, you aren’t alone! One of the most common questions I’m asked at Bill of Rights Institute’s professional development seminars is “how do I modify this reading for my students?”

Whatever modification strategy you choose, keep in mind the importance of  linking that modification with the original text. It is imperative that any time we make modifications, we link them to the original text and have the lesson demonstrate to the students how the modified reading is the same as the original source, just with different words. In this way struggling readers improve their skills not only through increased vocabulary, but word association as well.

I’d like to share some creative strategies from my classroom experience and I hope you are able to use all or some of them in your classroom.

The first strategy to improve reading skills is “texting.”

  • Take a challenging reading and highlight the most important passages. Then take those segments and translate them into “texting language.”
  • Cut up the original passages and the texting passages.
  • Organize the students into groups and have them match up the texting passages with the original passages. Then put the correct pairings up on the board or overhead and discuss.

Next, distribute the entire original reading.

  • Have the each group of students popcorn read the passage in their groups.
  • As an assessment, you can have the students answer reading comprehension questions on each of the passages individually or on the passage as a whole.

    Wordle of this blog post

Second reading strategy is wordle. This is a free Web site that takes the words from any text and forms a jumble of words. The most frequently used words in the text will appear larger in the jumble. There are two ways you can use wordle.

  • The first option is to assign students a reading at home. Have them put the reading into wordle, create the wordle image and look up the definitions of the most frequently used words. Then discuss in class the next day.
  • The second method is contained within your classroom.  You can do this all in class (either as a whole class with one computer or individually/paired if you have the technology) and ask students if they know the definitions of the words. After all the most frequently used words/unknown words are defined, continue with a guided or popcorn reading assignment in either groups or as a whole class.

The third strategy requires coordination and planning, but is something that I’ve done in my classroom with great success. Team teaching. Pair up with an English teacher (or several) and either coordinate a way to teach the same material, or get one of their advanced classes to come into your class and pair up with your students to read the particular passage. This strategy does require more work and effort, but I’ve found that sometimes when teachers take a step back, and let students help students achieve, you see results.

I hope you will be able to use some of these strategies in your classroom to help your students succeed!

Posted in Staff Updates


2 Responses to “Modifying Reading Lessons for Students”

  1. [...] Then, the benefits of technology as a teaching tool keep coming in: over at Ask a Tech Teacher, there’s a argument for why blogging makes students better writers. (And according to our own veteran teacher, texting shorthand can help students comprehend the Constitution!) [...]

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