In this blog post, we will look at Strategies for Teaching Reading Remotely. By now, it’s evident that the pandemic has disrupted and complicated the way we teach every subject, especially for our youngest students in preschool and elementary school. It has been a struggle for educators to adapt lesson plans and strategies for the very subjects that form the foundation for future learning. For parents, the challenge has been to support their children from home while balancing other commitments, such as their careers. In addition, it can be difficult for adults who do not have a background in education to support learning if they are unfamiliar with the strategies.
It is understandable that teaching these essential skills remotely for some subjects, such as reading and math, can make the task even more difficult. For example, when teaching students to read and write, hands-on activities and tools are often used to help them recognize and form letters. Reading instruction usually takes the form of whole-class modeling and small-group work, where children work with peers of similar ability. It’s easy to wonder how all of this will be possible in this era in learning to adapt to a virtual world. Let’s look closer at what to consider in online learning before exploring ideas for teaching reading that you can do from home.
According to the Modern Language Association, reading scores in the United States were already dropping before the pandemic. That means teaching reading was difficult even before classes went online last spring. If you’re a teacher or parent still facing ongoing virtual learning, it might be helpful to keep a few ground rules in mind:
First and foremost, encourage an early love of reading.
As children learn to decode words and give them meaning, teachers focus on two essential reading skills: developing reading fluency and reading comprehension. Reading fluency is the ability to check out a text.
Without reading fluency – the ability to recognize words and their intonation or expression – reading comprehension, the ability to understand a text is impossible. Once children have all the building blocks for developing reading fluency and text comprehension, the next step is practice, practice, practice!
Quickly and accurately, knowing how the words are expressed.
Studies have long shown that one of the best ways to improve reading comprehension and fluency is to read independently. However, before children can read independently, it is essential that adults, especially their teachers and caregivers, help them read. Because of this, adults must instill a love of reading in their children from an early age. Parents & teachers can do this by reading aloud with children and choosing their favorite children’s books to engage them.
Offer a Variety of Books
Children should be exposed to various books and text types in the classroom and when reading at home with their families. Educators can choose different books to engage the whole class during a specific read-aloud time while providing children with level reading materials appropriate for each student’s reading level. If families cannot check out or pick up books at school, they may print simple guided reading books at home on their printer. Inform parents of opportunities to purchase or borrow books, even if these texts are online.
Parents should also select and offer various books, using public library services or checking with schools and teachers. Try to check out different kinds of texts with children, consisting of informative articles on topics that match personal interests. The key is to read as much and as often as possible!
Be Open-Minded About Digital Tools
When we consider books, most of us think of the experience of holding one in our hands and perhaps the smell of a freshly purchased book. While numerous grownups prefer to read a physical copy, there are plenty of online tools to help children read. Some of these tools include:
Microsoft’s “Immersive Reader” tool reads text online and highlights and enlarges words.
Apps that include eBooks with audio commentary
Document cameras allow teachers to project the text from a physical book copy to children’s online Virtual magazine subscriptions or articles Learning apps and games YouTube videos of narrated children’s books with illustrations.
If you’ve ever participated in a Zoom call, you know that staring at a screen for an extended period is brutal. As difficult for adults to focus on when teleconferencing with others, it’s even more challenging for a wiggly, energetic first grader! Think about it: Managing student behavior and keeping them all on task and focused is already difficult on a typical day in any classroom. But keeping them attentive when students are faced with distractions around them can prove nearly impossible.
While it may seem like instructional time is being cut, teachers and parents need to keep study and reading sessions short. Think of lessons delivered in short segments. Keep children busy for a while, appropriate to their age, and then take a break. Spread reading and writing assignments throughout the day, so students don’t become exhausted if they focus intensely for too long.
Try digital read-aloud during the day
Many educators schedule reading time into their daily routines. Some may begin the day at the front of the classroom on rugs, with everybody around the teacher. In other classrooms, it may be another set time that promotes reading as a positive daily activity. Keep this routine in your digital courses and choose a large, colorful book that will capture your students’ attention. Choose a large, colorful book that grabs your students’ attention.
Parents: do the same by making reading aloud an essential part of your child’s daily routine or bedtime. It doesn’t have to be a digital book, but feel free to expand your book selection by using apps or finding informational articles on topics kids love!
A common denominator of the tips above is to make reading exciting, engaging, and downright fun! Make it an exciting celebration in your home or classroom. Try combining other activities, such as art projects or games, with the books children are reading. By engaging them in the world of a story outside of reading, they will learn to see reading as something they enjoy doing and will want to read more often!
Get creative. Take reading outside or inspire kids to write stories about their adventures.
Virtual classes can offer some flexibility when it comes to instruction and time spent on classwork. For example, it can be easier to assign students to go outside to find inspiration for their reading from home. As a parent, sessions can be held outdoors to change up the environment.
Be creative in assigning reading and writing tasks; tell families to walk outside to find something in nature that will inspire them to write a story. Just as a teacher can set up a nook in the classroom, encourage children to set up their own at home and share their favorite spot with the class! Or ask children to read books in various settings, such as on the porch, under a tree, or on a picnic blanket in the backyard, to make reading fun and associated with positive feelings.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way teachers teach and parents assist their kids in learning basic skills like reading and writing. While the thought of the potential loss of learning is frightening, we must learn to adapt practices until school operations can return to something approaching normal.
The Strategies and tips above for Teaching Reading Remotely can help young learners for years to come if teachers find digital strategies that work in the classroom. Use these strategies and remember that the most crucial aspect of teaching reading remotely is to foster a love of the text and practice as much as possible!