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    Lower Readers
    By Just Wondering

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    It sounds like your lower readers "independent" reading level is 2nd or 3rd grade. Ideally you should be providing them with reading instruction that is in their instructional level not their frustration level. That would mean fourth grade texts are frustrating them. For reading, can you place them in homeogeneous groups for book groups and choose books from a third grade level? Then have them heterogeneously grouped for other areas? I am getting the impression you can not. I don't think they will become better readers by placing them in groups where the reading material frustrates them. However, if it is imperative that they are heterogeniously grouped, paired reading is one way to help them. I would recommend placing them with your mid-level or low mid-level readers so that the disparity isn't so glaring. Then make sure they are selecting books at their independent reading level for independent reading.

    It would be ideal to pick these kids for small group lessons (along with other students with fluency issues) to do lessons on decoding using syllabacation rules. I have found that phonics can be very helpful even in fourth grade to help students with strategies for decoding unknown words. For example, with the long i/short i I made cards of two syllable words (mitten) and wrote them with syllable divisions as mi-tten and mit-ten. The kids would then practice the two ways of pronouncing the word (short i and long i) and tell me which one is correct. Eventually I showed them a card with the word, and they wrote on a small blackboard where the syllable division should go, and would show it to me. They thought it was a game. You can find harder words so that this lesson doesn't seem so primary. When I pulled kids for this group, I remember having other kids say "when do I get to do that lesson?" They thought it was a game and not so much a group for lower readers.

    Another suggestion is providing the book on tape, having them pre-read the material before having them joining groups, or having chapter summaries or study guides previded for them.

    As far as the social studies text goes, it may help to provide study guides that summaries the key points of the chapter. I was fortunate enough to have a supportive resource room that typed up chapter summaries (at a lower reading level) for every chapter in our social studies text. Maybe not this year, but maybe one summer you could make it a project to create these summary/study guides for each chapter. Give it to them when you start each chapter.

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