I am pleased to have had a conversation with my good friend and sister, Mrs. Joy Brown, regarding literacy in middle school. An experienced teacher and an aspiring reading coach, Joy is very well versed in what is needed for elementary students to succeed in reading. It turns out that most of those strategies and tips are just as good - if not better - for middle schoolers! Here is what research has shown, and what we discussed. Hopefully it will be of use to those of you who have middle schoolers and have reached out for support in their reading reluctancy.
1) Reading must be systemic. What is the struggle? Is it fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension? Find out, and then seek out programs that cater to the specific need. Have children do this daily. Daily. DAILY. Do not allow lapses in time.
2) Reading must be explicit. What, of the above categories, is the child working on? Work on that specific thing only before incorporating other skills. It is too easy to get overwhelmed with reading support if too many skills ae thrown at a child at once. Do one thing, do it well. and then move to the next skill.
3) Above all else, skills must be utilized within the reading of the child’s choice. When was the last tie someone told you that you had to read something that you did not want to read? What did you do, as an adult? You either grueled through the boring reading, or you put the book back. The same applies to children. If they want to read about sports all day, great! Let them. But - show them how to apply the fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills that they learned for use in their own reading!
4) The internet is your friend. There are people who have created programs for reading - for free!!!! Research them and use them!
When two educators get together and get to talking about something they are passionate about, there is no stopping us - and we just wanted to share some of the spillage of our conversation with all of you.