It is evident that students do not engage in enough sustained silent reading at home, and this I believe, is causing students to perform poorly in school. Their vocabulary is not strong, which makes it difficult to decode and identify the meanings of words in a sentence. Even if you teach Context Clues, if they don't read enough outside of school, then they will never practice this very important skill. This over time, contributes to the 1 in 5 freshman taking remedial courses at the collegiate level. Reading is so fundamental, and students do not do enough of it, and not enough reading is being enforced.
The reason why students perform poorly is because the limited vocabulary makes comprehension that much harder. You cannot make sense of anything, and it seems like you are 100% lost and confused. The pressure of not knowing, rather encourages students to guess for the answer, hoping that it's right. Small groups are very important because you are able to connect more individually with the student(s). Many times, shy students will begin to emerge and speak more, this way we can understand what they don't know, and assist them to mastering what they need to know.
Some weekends should be spent engaged sustained reading with a good book, preferably for 45 mins. If you can motivate students to grow a passion and attachment to reading as vines to a tree, then this will occur:
1. more engaged student participation
2. student-lead conversations
3. active student involvement
4. an increasing vocabulary index
5. successful small groups
6. better team work
7. success in flexible grouping
8. completed classwork and homework assignments
9. reading stamina
10. students will be able to make connection with the real world
11. a transference of knowledge for other academic subject areas
No one really explains to students that reading now is to prepare one for the future. Reading is a necessity in the real world setting. In order to work, a person must fill out an application and provide a resume. Here, words matter. If you can get your foot in the door with an interview, conversion and word usage counts heavily. When I was a small child, (a flashback moment), my father would read bedtime stories to my sister and I. From then on, I had a passion for words because my growing knowledge of these terms allowed me to make visual pictures of the words and create an image in my head.
Better readers also promote better writers. This connection is crucial. Students who speak well will also write well too. The technique will be more organized, structured, and flowing. Their writing will be original and unique, with the implementation of personality.
Read a variety of different forms and genres, so students will have a well-rounded knowledge base. Use newspapers, magazines, articles, journal entries, writing samples, comics, etc. As I always say, "The more you read, the more you'll know, the smarter you will be.
Keep reading alive!