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What Is Reading Intervention?
It can be difficult to detect students who are struggling to get to grips with reading. However, it's important that we fuel all of our efforts into doing just this, as reading intervention is key in helping pupils to become good readers - or at least reasonable ones. Such corrective approaches have been proven to be widely successful - children who may otherwise have gone unnoticed and been left disadvantaged by their reading difficulties are given the support and help they need. So, what are the main features of reading intervention?
Although it has many different elements and can be used differently to cater to the needs of individual pupils, reading intervention is basically noticing someone who finds reading difficult, and helping them either on their own or in a small group of people with similar problems. A variety of techniques are used to address the main issues the pupil is having, mainly through looking at the main concepts they need to grasp to be able to read well: phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension and a knowledge of different words (vocabulary).
Early reading intervention programs are the most common type of reading intervention as it is believed by many academic professionals that if you are able to target a reading problems from an early age, then the greater the chance is that they will benefit. Early intervention has also been described as a "proven and essential strategy for closing the reading gap".
This can more effectively be explained by 'The Matthew Effect', (Stanovich, 1986) which is a "rich get richer whilst the poorer get poorer" occurrence. Basically, the "rich" who acquire adequate literacy skills early on in life can use these to develop important life skills, whilst those who are unable to improve these skills early on will fall further and further behind. Furthermore, many children who struggle with their education may attend rural schools that may suffer from geographical segregation, poverty which can both affect student's achievement. A lack of resources to support teachers for a diverse range of teaching techniques may also have a negative effect on student's academic development.
One of the main difficulties a student may face as a result of being unable to read properly is a knock to their confidence. Trying to keep up with the mainstream group but being unable to do this can cause serious emotional strain; it can make you feel inferior, totally useless, and as if you're not as 'smart' as the rest of your class.
To correct this, one of the biggest aims of reading intervention is to restore the confidence of the affected person. This takes time - and lots of effort - but can be done. It demands patience from the tutor, as well as the ability to teach the student at their own pace - however slow this may be. Everyone learns at different speeds, and the beauty of acquiring knowledge slowly is that it's more likely to be retained.
Reading intervention programs can also be provided to children whose first language is not English, which helps to conquer language barriers by helping students, by improving their fluency and awareness of English.
Reading intervention programs can exist both inside and outside classroom environments, but all forms of programs exist solely for increasing student's reading levels.
Students who will be well suited for reading intervention programs are usually recommended to teachers who specialize by their own regular teachers. A variety of assessments could also be used to examine their performance.
The teacher supervising the intervention should go over the techniques explored as a class in more depth, but this time, on a one-to-one basis, where all of the attention is devoted to the student who is experiencing problems. Activities are broken down into small chunks, but still made engaging, so that the pupil in question will be able to maintain concentration more readily.
As well as written work, computer-based tasks are something that students usually find particularly enjoyable, and many reading intervention tutors have access to reading-focused programs that the student may find helpful. As mentioned, if they find what they are doing enjoyable, they become more open to absorbing the information.
Intervention is also a valuable method of increasing children's reading speed, which can benefit them by teaching them to read faster, whilst still retaining large chunks of important information. Also, by improving their reading fluency, students gain the ability to read smoothly and more efficiently which can be an advantage to all parts of their education. Most reading intervention programs also help to build and expand a student's vocabulary.
Most intervention programs are focused on the individual, and the exact areas where they are experiencing trouble. The role of the tutor is to analyze the specific areas where concerns are arising, and from here, look at the best ways of educating the student on how to overcome these. A timetable or planning sheet is often used to plan when and how various areas can be tackled, and how they interlink.
There are several different types of reading intervention programs that can be incorporated into everyday classroom settings. Examples of these are structured reading programs outside of class time, private tutoring, making changes to the way the teacher instructs the class, perhaps their methods are unsuited for certain members of the class who are struggling. Providing alternative learning texts such as audio and visual texts can also be helpful along with special computer reading programs which students use in scheduled sessions.
Specialized programs such as targeted reading intervention are aimed to improve early reading skills and strategies which can contribute to a student's long term reading ability. It specifically looks at developing key reading skills such as phonological awareness and knowledge of phonetics in order to teach students to recognize words quickly and efficiently. The integration of these different skills and knowledge allows students to practice comprehending words as they read them. By learning these skills and approaches to literature from an early age allows students to become successful readers in later life.
If you think you or someone you know needs reading intervention, this can be determined through simple tests, or may be directly observed in the classroom. Either way, the outcomes are normally positive, as the pupil is able to vastly improve their reading skills and live a life that isn't hindered by an inability to read.