TUTORING TECHNIQUES FOR STRUGGLING READERS
Learning objectives of module:
- To discuss and practise techniques to
help struggling readers understand,
complete and remember information
and concepts in school assignments
- To discuss strategies to help struggling
readers develop reading and study
skills so they are able to complete
Time: 45 minutes
- A Tutor’s Guide: Reading and Writing with Children and Youth (pages 28 to 31 and 35 to 37)
- Poem (choose one from Appendix E)
- Homework activities. Choose exercises that are appropriate for the age group that tutors will be working with. Include a reading, writing and math activity. These activities can be obtained from textbooks or workbooks that you can buy from a bookstore.
Step One – Explain the theory
Build on the information from the module on “The school experience” in this training guide. Explain that most students in senior elementary school and high school know how to read i.e., they have learned the mechanics of reading. However, the difficulty for many older students is one of understanding – they can read their homework but have difficulty understanding or thinking critically about what they read.
For these students, the role of the tutor is:
- To help the students with the thinking process
- To help the students understand what they are reading
- To help students develop abilities and strategies to do their homework independently
Step Two – Demonstrate the theory
- Explain to the tutors that the purpose of this workshop exercise is to illustrate the strategies which successful readers use to make meaning of a text. You can choose a poem from Appendix E of this training guide, or choose another complicated text for this workshop exercise.
The “Poem I” was developed to demonstrate the effects of prior knowledge on prose. It is very difficult to read and understand this poem without the title “Christopher Columbus.” The second poem, “Jabberwocky” was written by Lewis Carroll, and can be used to demonstrate how unfamiliar language can make reading comprehension difficult.
Ask a volunteer to read the poem or text aloud for the group. Ask the group:
- What is this poem about? What are the main ideas?
- What kinds of clues did you use to identify what the poem was about?
- Why was it is difficult to understand the poem? (sophisticated words, use of metaphors, incomplete sentences, no context – i.e., no title)
In order to learn new ideas, students must be able to connect new concepts to their existing knowledge or prior knowledge. By working with students to make these connections, tutors can help their students understand what they are reading.