Slide 1: I am Aimee Howley, Professor Emerita from Ohio University. I’d like to welcome you to the last webinar in the module on Helping Students Read.
Slide 2: This webinar will provide a review of the three most important ideas presented in the module, and it will also help you think about strategies for finding resources beyond those included in the module.
Slide 3: The first important idea is that the purpose of reading is to derive meaning. As adults, we read in order to understand. Sometimes we want to understand information or the steps in a process. We read factual material when that’s the type of understanding we seek. Sometimes we want to understand a writer’s views about the world, in which case we might read an editorial, an essay, a poem, or a novel.
Slide 4: When we help others learn to read, we also need to remember that their purpose for reading is going to be exactly the same as ours. They too want to find meaning, and our job is to help them. We might use phonics instruction or vocabulary instruction or choral reading to help them improve the capacity to get meaning from written material. But these methods are the means to an end. The end is the ability to comprehend written materials of different types.
Slide 5: The second important idea emphasized in the module is that students learn to read in different ways. For many students, using phonics to decode words offers an inroad to reading. But for others, phonics instruction doesn’t work so well. They may learn better by memorizing sight words and using context clues.
Slide 6: Effective reading instruction involves finding a good match between students’ learning preferences and the methods used to teach them to read. Usually the process of matching can be accomplished simply by exposing all students to various tools for learning to read and allowing them to make greater use of the tools that work best for them.
Slide 7: This approach is not the same thing as individualizing instruction, which often backfires rather than proving helpful. Individualizing tends to single out students, sometimes making them feel awkward or less competent than others. It also turns the teaching-learning process into a more isolated and less social enterprise. But isolated learning works well for relatively few students. For most, the social interactions involved in small- or large-group lessons reinforce learning.
Slide 8: The third important idea in the module is that reading should be enjoyable. Early-childhood and school experiences should communicate to children that reading is useful and fun. Getting off to a good start with reading sets the stage for a whole lifetime of competent reading. And competent reading allows people to learn from and find pleasure in books, magazines, newspapers, web sites, and other forms of written material.
Slide 9: Now that you are at the end of this module, I hope you are feeling more confident about helping with reading instruction. You have learned a lot, but there is still a lot to learn. The last slides in this webinar, therefore, recommend several strategies to help you learn more about reading instruction.
Slide 10: One strategy is to talk with reading teachers at your school. Perhaps these teachers routinely meet as a teacher-based team or professional learning community. Or perhaps one or two teachers are well known for their work as effective teachers of reading. Observing these teachers, talking with them, and co-teaching along side of them will help you learn more about how to help students learn to read.
Slide 11: Another strategy is to explore websites that provide information about how to teach reading. For example, the National Center on Deaf-blindness has a set of resources for developing all students’ literacy, including the literacy of students with deaf-blindness. The instructional techniques that are discussed and illustrated on this site can be used with many different students, especially those for whom other, more conventional techniques have not been effective. The web address for this set of resources is provided on the slide: https://nationaldb.org/groups/page/18/literacy.
Slide 12: I am not trying to be funny when I say that reading about reading is another good strategy for learning more about the process of learning to read and how to support that process. Many different kinds of books, not just textbooks, talk about the reading process. For example, one well-known philosopher and educator, Mortimer Adler wrote an accessible and amusing book about reading called, “How to Read a Book.” And books by psycholinguist, Frank Smith focus on the natural process by which children learn to read with support and without intrusive intervention.
Slide 13: There are many ways that you may choose to expand your learning about the reading process and how good instruction supports that process. You will also keep learning about reading instruction as a natural outgrowth of your continuing efforts to help students learn to read. Your experiences over the years as a reading tutor will help you see the variability among students as well as giving you practice with different teaching methods. Experience will also help you become more confident in your hunches about students’ enjoyment of reading, their learning preferences, and their ability to comprehend what they are reading.
Slide 14: In this final slide, I want to thank you for your engagement with this module. And I want to give you my best wishes for your future work with students who are learning to read.