Reading Success with Expository Texts
Struggling readers present secondary classroom teachers with unique challenges. Secondary teachers are experts in their subject areas but they have not been trained to “teach” reading. However, when given an expository text, struggling readers require intervention in order to understand what they are reading. This week, we offer a series of tips teachers can implement immediately to help struggling readers comprehend expository text.
This Week's Tips
Two-Column Reading Question and Answer (Monday)
Provide a series of important questions related to an expository reading assignment. Using a two-column graphic organizer, write the questions in the left column. As students read, they should record their answers in the right column. The design of the organizer directs student attention to important information and is easy to reference for follow-up study.
Targeted Reading (Tuesday)
Teach students to use the headings, subheadings, and graphics in expository text to locate support for the main idea. Distribute a Bulls-Eye Graphic Organizer with the main idea listed in the center. Skim the assigned reading with students, plotting headings, subheadings, and graphics as questions around the targeted concept. As students read the text, ask them to answer the questions now listed on the graphic organizer.
Create a Reading Question of the Day (Wednesday)
Focus students on specific information by opening class with a question of the day. Distribute large index cards to students and have them write the question of the day on the front. During reading, students should note on the back of the card information useful to responding to the question, as well as the page and paragraph number where the information was uncovered. Close the class period with a five-minute writing session in which students construct a paragraph answering the question of the day with the information from the back of the card. Collect the responses and read each aloud, anonymously. Have the class determine whether each response answers the question of the day.
Read for Images (Thursday)
Train students to visually interpret expository text. Model this for students by selecting a text, reading it aloud, and describing, while reading, the images created in your mind’s eye. Then, on a transparency or a white board, create a simple artistic rendering of this image, explaining the image in relation to the text a second time as you draw. Ask students to practice reading for images using the same passage, and provide an opportunity for students to pair up and explain their symbolic interpretations of the text to a partner.
Use Reading Strategies to Build Student Confidence (Friday)
Help students build a set of strategies that work for them. Struggling readers are generally aware of their weaknesses and need confidence building activities. Use this week’s tips to scaffold these readers and encourage them to learn to use these strategies independently to improve comprehension skills. To build confidence, encourage completion of study guides as a reading strategy rather than as an evaluation tool.