Interventions for reading: 7 steps for teaching the struggling reader, or any reader

  1. Phonics Instruction: Make or buy cards of the 70 Orton-Gillingham phonograms (the letters and groups of letters that make sounds in English) and the discrete sounds each phoneme can make. Teach the phonograms by holding up the card, showing the letter or set of letters, saying the sound(s) that phonogram makes, and having the student recite the sounds. Once the student(s) know the phonograms orally, teach them to write them as you say them.  Teach this skill to mastery of all the phonograms.
  2. Phonemic awareness: Teach students to break words into their component sounds.  Start with simple three-letter words such as “dog” (d-o-g)  and cat.  Have the students say each sound in the word separately.  As they master the simplest words, go on to harder words.  Remember to listen for sounds, not letters (super: s-oo-p-er, five letters but four sounds.)Teach them to clap syllables and then teach them to segment the syllables in order.
  3. Blending: Write a word on the board.  Say “sound” and point to a letter.  The student says the sound.  Then point to the next letter and do the same.  When the student has said all the sounds, say “blend,” and run your finger across all the letters.  “Blend” is the cue for them to say the word.   If they don’t get the word right, do the drill again.  If the students are slow at developing this skill, you can scaffold by using word families (words with different beginnings but the same ending) to reinforce the skill.
  4. Read and track: Have a book for every student doing the exercise and for yourself.  Tell the students to put their finger on the first word.  Read the passage and have the student(s) put their finger on the word as you read.  They may read chorally (all together) or may listen to you or to a tape, but their finger must follow along with the spoken text.
  5. Scaffolded reading: The text is at the right level for scaffolded reading if the student is getting more than 9 words out of 10 correct.  If he is not, use easier text or go back to steps one to three. Once the student can blend and track text, find a passage of text or a book made of simple words you believe the student should be able to sound out.  Give the student the passage and tell him to read it.  If he is stuck, point to the word and say “sound it out.”  If he can’t, give the initial sound.  If he still can’t, supply the word and go on.  If the student miscues (reads one word wrong in a sentence) at the end of the sentence, ask, “Is that right? Read it again.”  Have the student go back over the sentence and find their error.
  6. Dictation: Have sentences of words the students know how to spell.  Give the student a pencil and paper.  Say the sentence.  Repeat if needed until the student has written it down.  Give the student a colored pencil and show the correct writing of the sentence.  Have the student correct their own work.
  7. Teacher Review of Independent Reading:  Once the student can independently read a text and think about text at their reading level, allow students to read self-selected books and write reports or make drawings to report back to the teacher on what they’ve read.

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