The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 60

By providing instructional activities that engage students, by modeling reading behaviors, and by showing students they care about them as people and learners, teachers can influence students so they will come to believe in themselves as readers and learners. Developing reading fluency is one aspect that will help students see themselves as good readers which is a characteristic of good reading (Hudson et al., 2005). As students experience success and see in themselves the characteristics of good readers, they are motivated to continue to grow as literate individuals and as lifelong learners.


fluency, “rate of reading is not the primary goal in reading. The ultimate aim is comprehension” (Dechant, 1991, p. 465).

Series Books

Similar to how fluency is increased when students become more automatic with word decoding, it can also be enhanced through more efficient text pattern recognition. Series books have common characteristics that readers come to expect in format, setting, characters, and writing style. Appealing to adolescent students, “reading books in a series or on the same theme or topic provides experiences and benefits that are similar to those of repeated reading of the same text,” which is less conducive to the adolescent reader and the high school English classroom. Routman (2003) asserted that series books are appealing, and that they improve fluency because as “readers become increasingly familiar with common elements in a series, they can more easily focus on meaning” (p. 65). As students experience success with reading texts that are familiar in format and show measurable growth with reading more quickly and with more understanding, their sense of self-efficacy and motivation to engage in other genres and types of books should also increase.

Worthy and Broaddaus (2002) expressed that not only do series book “give readers a sense of mastery over the conventions of reading” (p. 341), but they help students develop independent reading skills of reading for longer periods of time. Series books that are promoted by the teacher through book talks where the book is advertised to pique interest, or by availability through a well stocked classroom library, can provide a means of identification and easy access by the students. As students experience mastery and success, they will be motivated “to practice reading on their own” (Worthy & Broaddus, 2002, p. 342).

Independent Reading and Struggling Readers Interventions

If students are to grow as readers, they must have an opportunity to engage in independent reading with books that are at their level and with a teacher who monitors their reading (Routman, 2004), but sadly, “few middle and secondary teachers give students time to read in class” (Beers, 2003, p. 199). Independent reading allows for choice in various types of texts, and “wide reading is a great way to practice reading” (Rasinski & Padak, 2005, p. 37). For struggling readers, simply providing in-class time for reading is not as effective because they are less likely to engage fully in the reading task and more

likely to be frustrated or to have selected reading material not at their levels. They simply often do not recognize the “point of reading” nor do they “adequately control the way they read” (Anderson et al., 1985, p. 13). Therefore, it is incumbent on the teachers to seize the opportunity afforded during independent reading to capitalize on getting to know students as readers and in engaging those who do struggle.

The teacher who makes it a habit to use independent reading time as an opportunity to assess all readers in her class will gain valuable insights into her students as readers. This is an excellent opportunity for the teacher to have near non-existent individual time with students at the high school level and to differentiate reading instruction for those struggling students who might otherwise not have any reading instruction due to the nature of high school. Even if it is on a level that can not be articulated by the students, effective classrooms are so because students intuitively sense a “teacher’s commitment to the belief that all children can learn to read” (Anderson et al., 1985, p. 86). Not only will the student perceive that the teacher cares to spend time with him or her, but the teacher is likely to see increased engagement and be able to identify reading miscues and target specific difficulties of the struggling reader. To be effective, teachers need to realize how important it is to embed instruction for struggling adolescent readers into regular class activities and “address differences in their abilities to read, write, and communicate orally as strengths, not as deficits” (Alvermann, 2004, p. 181). This is why using independent reading time can be an effective way of allowing all students time to read and as a way to address those struggling adolescent readers’ needs.

Student Motivation

Of primary importance to growth as a reader is the reader’s self-efficacy as a reader. A student who experiences success at reading tasks will be encouraged to continue the practice necessary for fluent reading (Worthy & Broaddus, 2002). “Students who feel in control of their own learning, who know why fluency is important and what can help to improve it, are more likely to engage in the kinds of repeated practice that lead to improved fluency” (Worthy & Broaddus, 2002, p. 338). Teachers can teach strategies, and students can know when to use strategies, but they will be mostly ineffective unless students are given opportunities to practice those strategies as this will “increase motivation for learning” (Hinchman, Alvermann, Boyd, Brozo, & Vacca, 2003, p. 308). Just as students need repeated practice in order to decode words automatically or recite a Readers’ Theatre script