I want to explore some practical reading strategies today. Reading is fundamental for almost every career and activity imaginable. Students who struggle with reading will often struggle in many aspects of school and may seem to get easily frustrated. The good news is that there are strategies to improve student reading.
But first, we need to understand that readers have different learning styles and not every reader will find the same strategies helpful.
What are the learning styles?
The four major learning styles are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and verbal.
Visual learners often enjoy pictures or visual representations of texts or concepts. They may draw or imagine the scene.
Auditory learners like to hear the words or concepts. They may listen to the story or read it aloud.
Kinesthetic learners need different reading strategies as they often need movement. They may walk or pace while reading or listening to a story.
Verbal learners often need to talk about stories. They may also read aloud or ask questions.
What reading strategies can help students become stronger readers?
First, don’t expect all learners to learn the same way. Even multiple visual learners might have different reading strategies they like to practice to understand the reading more fully. Below I will list several reading strategies and the types of learners that they might help. For some strategies, I will tell you who the overall strategy helps and some variations, for others I will tell you how the learners vary the strategy.
Some students find highlighting the text helpful. Some students will feel nervous about highlighting at first. Some will not know what they need to highlight or why. This strategy is helpful for visual learners.
Here are some ways to highlight that might help your student.
- Use different colors- some students will find it helpful to highlight different things in different colors. For example, highlight new vocabulary in pink, confusing sentences in yellow, and important details in green.
- Only highlight key words- some students will find highlighting easiest if it is a few words. They might find highlighting most beneficial for keywords or confusing words.
2. Annotating the text
Some students will find that marking the text with notes is most helpful. They might circle key words, underline new vocabulary or confusing words, and star key phrases or details. This strategy is also helpful for visual learners. Key things to remember about annotation.
- Every annotation is different- Different students have different ways of annotating. They should use the type of system that helps them the most.
- Some students will be uncomfortable- Not all students, even visual learners, will like it. Some feel they write too big and it becomes too much to look at.
3. Reading aloud
Some students will love read-aloud time and others will not like it at all. For some students, they need to hear the words spoken. This strategy helps auditory learners most. For those students consider these alternatives.
- Have a quiet area where students can whisper the text aloud to themselves- Some students will find that merely hearing the words is enough. If you have a few auditory learners, consider pairing them up as multiple strategies might help if they have a partner.
- Have auditory books available- Many books, including children’s books, are now available as audiobooks. If having somewhere the student can read aloud isn’t possible, have some audiobooks available with headphones. This way the student can follow along with a spoken story.
4. Graphic Organizers
These can be helpful for a variety of Visual readers. Each organizer works differently. Here are a few and how they may be used.
- Bubble maps- might be used to tell the main ideas and smaller details.
- Venn Diagrams- might be used to tell how things have similar and different traits.
- KWL charts– might be used to organize information.
5. Having Questions to think about while reading
This strategy can help visual, auditory, and verbal learners alike.
- The visual learner will have something to look for.
- The auditory learner might listen to questions being asked and think back to what the book is asking.
- The verbal learner gets to talk about the text.
6. Explore the text
This strategy can also help a variety of learners. The learners will look at the text to see if there are keywords listed, titles, headings, pictures, or other clues for the text.
- Visual learners will enjoy being able to look at pictures and differences in text. These visual differences will help them to make predictions and improve comprehension.
- Kinesthetic learners- will get a chance to manipulate the text. Flip pages. Look at the differences in a comparison of features. This might include describing the difference in glossy and matte pages. They can answer questions about the author’s intent this way.
- Verbal learners- might enjoy being able to talk about what they see.
- Auditory learners- might enjoy a discussion as well.
7.Act out the text
For kinesthetic learners, acting out dialogue or putting movement to descriptive text can help them retain what they have read.
This can be done as both written and oral summarizations.
- Auditory and verbal learners will enjoy discussing their summaries. Much of their learning comes from talking through the text. Have them formulate their answers before discussing them.
- Visual learners often prefer a graphic organizer or visually appealing document to create summaries or outlines with.
Students of different learning styles will also like this strategy. Many people make these different strategies, and often they are, but they can certainly be done together. Students will ask questions of the text, especially character motivations or author choices. Then they can look at the text critically to determine what they think the answers might be. They can also use this strategy for prediction.
For Auditory and verbal readers, they may find a “book club” or partnership set up the best for this type of strategy.
Few reading strategies help every student. The most important thing is to have a variety of ways that students may interact with the text. They might enjoy one or more methods. Many of these can be done in a variety of settings as well.
For in-person learning, most of these are fairly self-explanatory, but they can be harder for virtual instruction. Teachers can still set up “radio plays” with video conferences, and students can chat on the phone or other video calling apps. Get creative!