The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Making Reading More Accessible

We do a lot of reading in fourth grade.

I mean, a lot of reading. All day, every day, in every subject, we are reading.

As a result, I am constantly trying to find ways to make reading more accessible for all of my students. I love reading, I love sharing reading, but I know that I have some students who don’t love it quite as much as I do, and I am constantly thinking about what I can do to help them change their thoughts on the subject.

One of the things that is on my mind is helping students break the barrier of their own preconceived notions of what reading is and what it is not. This is something we, as a staff in my building, have tried to emphasise as part of our million minutes of reading goal. Reading isn’t just looking at and understanding words on a page. Reading isn’t just something you do with books or magazines or even newspapers. Reading doesn’t even actually involve words. There are a multitude of wordless picture books on the market, and all of them offer opportunities to read without text.

Reading can also be done through audiobooks. I don’t think you can count watching a movie or a television show as reading, but I do think that listening to someone else read counts. It is this thought that has been particularly weighing on my mind over the past couple of weeks. There are several students in fourth grade who have excellent comprehension skills but, for various and sundry reasons that I don’t care to get into here, they struggle with reading a text on a page. And it isn’t just at my grade level that we see this.

One of the suggestions that has come up in conversations with other teachers has been investing in a Nook or a Kindle to use in the classroom. (A teacher friend in California has been using Kindles in his high school classrooms with a great deal of success.) There is, of course, also the option of investing in an iPad, but those are considerable more expensive and do more than I am thinking about. (An iPad for my use in the classroom would be awesome. But for making reading more accessible, I’d rather stick with an eReader.)

In the meantime, I have a few portable CD players in my classroom and I am in the process of acquiring headphones for each student (thank you, dollar stores!) so I can get books on CD for students to listen to as they read the text. In the end, my biggest goal is simply to get my students to read more and to enjoy reading more. It is a lofty goal, I know, but I firmly believe that a person who can read, and read well, can do anything!

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