Tips to Support Struggling Readers in Your School

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Flexible seating for readingMore than 10 million American students struggle to read, but only 2.3 million are identified and even fewer receive special help; schools must provide support for struggling students by creating a culture of reading. In “45 Ways to Support Struggling Readers: A School-Wide Approach,” hosted by and sponsored by Learning Ally, Terrie Noland, Learning Ally National Director, Educator Engagement; and Kristy Mathieu, Kiker Elementary, Austin, TX, presented tips for how schools can support struggling readers.

Provide students with a comfortable place for reading. Kristy implemented flexible seating into her classroom, which allows students to sit in a more relaxed environment as opposed to sitting in rows. Seats that allow for natural movement, such as stools Read more pages contestthat move, are also helpful for children with attention issues. She even provides toys for students to fidget with while reading, like putty, because some struggling readers may become anxious while trying to read. Kristy commented on her classroom setup, “It doesn’t matter to me where you’re working—as long as you’re working.”

Be a reading cheerleader by having your school participate in a “read more pages” contest. These kinds of contests spark student interest and conversation around books. Kristy noted that The Great Reading Games contest, put on by Learning Ally, always gets her students particularly excited about the books they are reading. She makes sure to keep the focus on making great efforts and setting realistic goals, rather than winning. The students at Kiker Elementary have already set their goals for next year.

Spark all students’ love of reading by leveling the playing field with audiobooks and encouraging them that reading in any format is fine. “I always let them know Student buddies for readingthat I listen to audiobooks, and that it’s okay. Anytime you’re reading, that’s reading, no matter what it looks like,” said Kristy. Schools can also have older students partner up with younger students that have recently been identified as dyslexic. The older students help the younger students see that they aren’t alone, and show them that things will get easier. With programs like these, schools can ensure all readers have the support they need.


This broadcast was hosted by and sponsored by Learning Ally.

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This article was modified and published by eSchool News.

About the Presenters

Terrie Noland is the National Director, Educator Engagement for Learning Ally. She has more than 22 years of experience as both a trainer and developer of content for educators and administrators. Her focus for the past five years has been on the pedagogical practices needed to create effective environments for students with dyslexia. Terrie has trained groups numbering in the thousands helping to build better understanding of working with struggling readers. She is currently pursuing certification as an academic language therapist.

Kristy Mathieu Kristy Mathieu is a teacher at Kiker Elementary School in Austin, TX. She has led an initiative in her own 3rd grade general education classroom to create universally designed instructional practices so that all students, including those with learning disabilities, can succeed. As a certified academic language therapist, she integrates an Orton-Gillingham multisensory program as a center rotation in her classroom. In addition, she has created learning spaces with flexible seating that promote student independence and choice. Kristy’s teaching method, innovative practices, and love for teaching have been recognized by Austin ISD. Her classroom has become a model for others to follow.

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About the Sponsor
learning ally Learning Ally empowers students who read and learn differently so that they may thrive. We help them to overcome obstacles and discover strengths, as we guide them along a path that ensures success.