Strategies For Teaching Reading

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There is massive amounts of research literature available discussing the different reading strategies which suggests that reading comprehension is strengthened when students work methodically and systematically to improve their reading skills. This paper will address strategies that students can be taught apply during reading activities. It will be argued that it is impossible to read without actively thinking about it. In order to become good readers students must have the ability to apply different strategies in order to build meaning for themselves and as teachers, we need to teach students how to think about these strategies as they read. Thus, reading will be viewed as an activity where we construct meaning for ourselves, " It is an active, cognitive and affective process that involves complex thinking." (Reading 44, pp.210)

In this paper six key strategies have been identified. Once these categories are defined the importance of teaching each of the strategies directly to students will be discussed. Finally, we will look at a few of teaching the activities that have been suggested to be effective for use in the classroom in order to help students become more independent and effective readers. (Brownlie, Close and Wingren, 1990; Cunningham and Allington, 1994; Mazzoni and Gambrell, 1996; Tierney and Readance, 2000; Tarasoff, 1993;).

To begin with it might be helpful to define what a reading strategy is. Weinstein and Mayer (1986) defined these as behaviours and thoughts that a learner engages in during learning that are intended to influence the learners encoding process. (pp.315)

Further, Alexander, et al. (1985) defined a strategy as a procedural, purposeful, effortful, willful, essential and facilitative. They asserted that strategies are mandatory for academic development (pp. 131).

It can be argued that skilled readers are aware that strategies for reading are altered with different purposes. For example, one wouldn't read a fiction novel in the same way you would read instructions for assembling a shelving unit from Ikea.

The use of pictures, knowledge of sounds and letters, experience of subject matter and the flow of language to help readers to make sense of text. For skilled readers, reading is a holistic experience where they look for meaning in the words they read. Researchers have identified a wide variety of effective strategies that good readers use when they read. It seems that one of the most important things we can do as teachers is to provide students with on-going support in their reading. We can provide guidance as we direct them to use specific tools to build their understanding as they read. Cunningham and Allington (1994) described this as demonstrating the important tasks we need to do as we read. Further, they argued that supported reading is needed when children are reading unfamiliar texts that require the use of new strategies. Therefore, teachers need to teach students how to think about reading as they read and how to use different strategies in order to understand more completely what they are reading and why they are reading it.

Teaching students to be strategic readers could be one of the most important things we they learn to do because when we teach them to be strategic readers, we encourage them to establish a purpose for reading. Pressley et al. (1989) reviewed studies that examined learning environments where direct strategy instruction was used. The authors examined limited number of different reading strategies that were supported by research evidence, and rigorous scientific testing. Although they acknowledged that more research is needed in this area to determine the effectiveness of strategy instruction, based on their findings and argued that teachers who teach these skills are encouraging the most defensible strategies available. The goal in strategy instruction is that students use the trained strategies independently, skillfully, and appropriately....
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