'Lots to learn': Schools try to keep up with children's reading material (2023)

ATLANTA (AP) -- Michael Crowder stands nervously outside his third-grade classroom, his mustard yellow polo shirt buttoned up.

"Give us some vowels," says her teacher La'Neeka Gilbert-Jackson. His eyes search a chart that lists vowels, consonant pairs, and word endings, but he can't find an answer. "Let's help you," says Gilbert-Jackson.

"A-E-I-O-U," she and the students say in unison.

Michael missed most of first grade, the first year of learning to read. It was the first case of the pandemic and Atlanta only offered online schooling for months. Michael's mother had just had a baby and there was no quiet place to study in her small apartment. He also missed a good portion of the second series. So, like most of his classmates at his Atlanta school, he doesn't read at the level expected of a third grader.

And this is an urgent problem.

Third grade is the last chance for Michael's class to master reading with the help of the teachers before being subjected to more stringent expectations. If Michael and his peers are not proficient in reading by the end of the school year, research has shown that they are less likely to graduate from high school. Grade 3 has always been pivotal in a child's school life, but pandemic-related school disruptions have made that much more difficult. Across the country, third graders lost more ground in reading than lower graders and recovered more slowly.

To deal with the loss of learning caused by the pandemic, Atlanta became one of the few cities in the country to increase class time: 30 minutes a day for three years. It's more time for Gilbert-Jackson to explain the confusing ways English words work and tailor lessons for small groups of students based on their abilities.

She hopes that's enough. The school year has been a rush to prepare your students for future classes, where good reading is a gateway to everyone else's learning.

"Yes, I work hard," he says of his students. "Because we have a lot to learn."



With the December break approaching, the Gilbert-Jackson gang is haggard and visibly tired. A handful of students don't come to school in anticipation of the long recess. One girl has been absent for weeks; now, back in class, he puts his arm across the table and tries to fall asleep.

"You have to wake up, little girl," Gilbert-Jackson tells her calmly. "You have to tell Mommy to get you to bed."

The lethargy is palpable, but Gilbert-Jackson continues with her classes. There's a lot to learn.

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Review suffixes, how to spell words that end in -ch, -tch, and how to pluralize different words. Some students memorized the spelling; For those who don't know, Gilbert-Jackson explains the spelling rules. It's a phonics-based program that the district now mandates for all third graders, in line with science-based curricula that are gaining ground across the country.

Last year, the district began requiring the same curriculum for all first and second grade students. It can be dry and boring, full of obscure jargon like "digraph" and "trigraph". Good readers nod and respond during these sessions, but students who are still learning the basics seem lost.

To add fun to the lesson, Gilbert-Jackson turns it into a quiz game. Students are excited as they try to configure their laptops.

"Teach," calls Gilbert-Jackson. "Like spell?"

Students have to choose between "teach" and "teach".

"Yes!" Some of the children scream from their desks when the results appear on their screens.

Says Gilbert-Jackson, "I don't know why I get so many yeses when only half are right."



With the end of the first semester, 14 of its 19 students do not meet reading expectations. That includes Miguel.

Gilbert-Jackson has one big advantage: She has known Michael and most of his peers and his parents since the first outbreak of the pandemic. She taught them first and second grade and saw them through third grade. She knows how many of them missed school and why. The strategy was adopted by Boyd Elementary to give students consistency during the crisis.

Worth it. The committed relationship helped her adjust her focus and care for her students at a school where 81% of families receive food stamps or other assistance from the government. "I know what they know," she says.

The long-term connection, or perhaps just continuing to go to school every day, helped Michael to start reading. By the end of first grade, I knew two of the so-called "visual words": "a" and "the". By this time of year, first graders must have memorized 200 of these high-frequency words that aren't easy for new readers to figure out.

Now, in the middle of third grade, he's reading like a first year, two years behind schedule. But, says Gilbert-Jackson, it's progress. "You can see the wheels turning," she says. "Sometimes he draws a space, but he still tries."

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When not at school, Michael stops by his apartment complex's community center most afternoons to read books for the staff who promote pizza party activities. His credentials show an improvement. His parents noticed his growth.

"I see a change in him," says Michael's stepfather, Rico Morton, who works as a landscaper and runs a late-night pizzeria. Morton says he sometimes asks Michael and his brothers about tests and multiplication tables. "He's matured. Now he speaks in complete sentences," says Morton. "I feel like he has the potential to be somebody."

But Michael's third-grade days at Gilbert-Jackson are numbered, and he still falls far short of what's expected of a third-grader.

This is a big turning point. By the end of third grade, teachers often guide students to improve their reading and writing skills. After that, students are required to read more demanding texts across all subjects and improve their reading skills independently. Researchers found that students who are not proficient in reading in third grade are four times more likely to drop out or not finish high school on time. And when a student doesn't graduate, the stakes increase. For example, untitled adults are more likely to end up in prison.

Michael is not the only student in this dangerous zone. A handful of your peers also read or understand in first grade.

Some, like Michael, haven't taken Zoom classes. There are two girls who attended the classes who seemed fine at the time. But Gilbert-Jackson believes that their parents did some, if not all, of the work for them, and that the girls did not learn to read or write.

One of those girls is now reading in second grade, but her comprehension is closer to that of a first grader in mid-year, says Gilbert-Jackson. "Words just bounce off of it," says Gilbert-Jackson. “She doesn't internalize what she reads. For me, that's harder to fix."

The other girl, whose mother likely did her homework while studying online, reads at the level of a first grader. Gilbert-Jackson worries about her. “Say he's in fourth grade: nobody's going to read to him,” she says. "I don't want to set them up for failure."



Good options are few. On paper, Atlanta County's policy is to encourage elementary school students to be "fluent" in reading, math and other subjects. But it's not clear how often the district actually retains students. Atlanta's school system did not respond to requests for data.

Getting students to repeat is no longer a practice across the country, even though more students are being held back due to the pandemic. Pre-pandemic research has shown the practice has mixed academic results, can stigmatize students and cause stress for families. It is also costly for school districts because it may require adding classes and teachers.

These students may attend four weeks of summer school, but that probably won't be enough to get them up to third grade reading level. And participation of children enrolled in summer school is notoriously low across the country.

When students enter fourth grade, their schools will assess their reading and math skills and "be informed of appropriate interventions," according to the district. Faculty and students will have an additional half hour of class each day for the next year, the last of Atlanta's three-year plan to deal with the pandemic setbacks.


Before leaving for the Christmas break, Gilbert-Jackson began talking to the students' parents to discuss how their children are developing and what may or may not happen to their future fourth graders. Although it is rare, she tells them that she can recommend that a student be held back or that a parent apply.

She encourages parents to continue working with their children, purchasing workbooks from cheap stores and, in some cases, agreeing to be tested to determine if their child needs more specialized help.

The parents of some of your difficult readers don't answer your calls or don't show up for parent-teacher conferences. In most cases, says Gilbert-Jackson, "they think they mean well."

"But I think some have the attitude, 'I'm going to send you to school and you better listen to this lady,'" she says, "but there's not a lot of support at home."



While Gilbert-Jackson seems to have a plan to promote most of his students, two new students put the veteran professor to the test. This time of year, your challenges resist easy solutions.

One day in late February, Gilbert-Jackson asks her students to review a story they've all written about a glowing rock. Most start working quickly.

A new student, a boy with a 100-watt smile and a fringe of flowing hair, transferred from another Atlanta public school in November. Instead of picking up her story, she chooses a book from the class library and starts writing in her notebook. A few minutes later, he hands his notebook to Keione Vance, the teacher's assistant.

"So you copied this from a book?" she asks. "I know you just copied."

She asks him to read it to her. A breezy start to the book, an "easy read" aimed at a first grade reading level. He struggles with words: beautiful, true, voice, safe, does, out and why.

When he arrived in November, it felt like "I had to learn everything from first, second and third grade," says Gilbert-Jackson. In class, he often lowers his head. “I'm getting more work from him now. But you can tell when you hit your limits. He says, 'uh-uh.'”

While most of the class is writing, the other new student, a tall girl with long braids that curl at the end, is sitting at her desk, looking away and humming to herself.

"She struggles," says Gilbert-Jackson. "There's something I can't identify."

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Gilbert-Jackson is concerned that he is not serving his two new students as well as he would like. "What they need would require my full attention," she says. “This train has been running for three years. I can't start over."



As the other students in the class continue to work, some ask Gilbert-Jackson to read their stories. Some are written in full sentences with few errors. Others lack punctuation and capitalization and are spelled incorrectly.

After several other students ask Gilbert-Jackson to verify their stories, she gets the attention of the class.

"Genial, genial", diz Gilbert-Jackson.

“Yes, yes,” the class responds.

"Genial, genial, genial", diz Gilbert-Jackson.

“Yes, yes, yes,” responds the class. And then the teacher says words that can be very scary for some of them.

“Ms. Gilbert-Jackson can't be the one to say when the final draft is done,” he says. “I won't be there when you're in fourth grade. I won't be there when you're in fourth grade. Run tests."

Gilbert-Jackson and the other third-grade teachers are so concerned about their students' literacy and math skills that, after Christmas break, they decided to cut social studies and science to give students extra tuition and practice for the rest of the year. year to give of the year. It's your last chance to help them before they switch to another teacher and expect them to read everything themselves.

The extra time may have helped some students cross the border. Now, only seven of the 19 students are below grade in reading. Of the students still behind schedule, Gilbert-Jackson is the least concerned about one: Michael Crowder. She trusts that he will find a way to navigate the new world ahead, a world in which she needs to be more independent, even if there's a lot to learn.

"He wants to," she says. "He'll catch up."


(Video) How can we promote the habit of reading English books among school children

The Associated Press Education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.


What is the most efficient way to teach children how do you read? ›

Reading aloud is considered the best way for caregivers to prepare a child to learn to read. The panel's analysis showed that the best approaches to reading instruction have the following elements: Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness. Systematic phonics instruction.

How should reading be taught in schools? ›

The best way to teach reading is called systematic phonics-based instruction. It's based on decades of brain science. Unlike speaking, reading is not a skill that kids' brains are hard-wired to develop. Learning to read requires several different parts of the brain all working together.

Why is learning to read important? ›

Instilling a love of reading early gives a child a head start on expanding their vocabulary and building independence and self-confidence. It helps children learn to make sense not only of the world around them but also people, building social-emotional skills and of course, imagination.

What are 3 learning resources? ›

Learning resources might include any of the following:
  • Textbooks.
  • Software.
  • Relevant reading materials.
  • Videos.
  • Recordings.

What is the most effective reading strategy? ›

One of the most effective strategies for teaching reading is called Schema. This strategy asks students to connect what they already know with new concepts presented within the text. The idea is that when you can associate further information with what you already know, you will learn it faster and retain it longer.

What is the most effective reading strategies? ›

To improve students' reading comprehension, teachers should introduce the seven cognitive strategies of effective readers: activating, inferring, monitoring-clarifying, questioning, searching-selecting, summarizing, and visualizing-organizing.

What's one useful strategy for reading with children around? ›

Praise and encourage the child often. Follow the child's interests when helping choose books. Allow time after each book to discuss what most interested you both about the story. It's important for pre-readers to notice print, know how to handle a book, and know how to follow the written word on a page.

What is the importance of teaching reading at the classroom? ›

A child's reading skills are important to their success in school as they will allow them to access the breadth of the curriculum and improve their communication and language skills. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative time for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.

What are the two main approaches to teaching reading? ›

The Phonics Method teaches children to pair sounds with letters and blend them together to master the skill of decoding. The Whole-word Approach teaches kids to read by sight and relies upon memorization via repeat exposure to the written form of a word paired with an image and an audio.

What are five benefits of reading important? ›

Why is reading good for you? Reading is good for you because it improves your focus, memory, empathy, and communication skills. It can reduce stress, improve your mental health, and help you live longer. Reading also allows you to learn new things to help you succeed in your work and relationships.

Why reading is the most important skill? ›

Reading is Essential and serves as a basic building block for learning, regardless of the school subject, be it language arts or even math. In daily life, the need to read things such as street signs or prescriptions proves reading is also an important life skill. 2. Reading Strengthens the Brainand improves memory.

Why is reading so important for a child? ›

Reading to young children is an important way to help them build language skills. It exposes them to new words and ways of using language. It also helps them learn general information about the world, which makes it easier for them to learn about new subjects once they get to school.

What are the importance of teaching-learning materials? ›

Teaching-learning materials apply different techniques of learning and are able to make students understand even finer points easily and inculcate their power of imagination and reflection. They stimulate students' senses and simplify the teaching-learning process.

What are the objectives of teaching-learning materials? ›

The purpose and importance of teaching and learning materials is to make lessons interesting, learning easy and enable teachers to easily express concepts. Learning materials can significantly increase learners' achievement by supporting learning.

What is your learning strategy? ›

What is a Learning Strategy? A learning strategy is an individual's way of organizing and using a particular set of skills in order to learn content or accomplish other tasks more effectively and efficiently in school as well as in non-academic settings (Schumaker & Deshler, 1992).

How do you teach a struggling reader? ›

7 strategies to use with struggling readers
  1. SCAFFOLD. For any struggling reading, achieve success is key. ...
  2. BE INCLUSIVE. ...
Jan 13, 2015

What are the 5 basic reading skills? ›

There are five aspects to the process of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency. These five aspects work together to create the reading experience. As children learn to read they must develop skills in all five of these areas in order to become successful readers.

What are high 5 reading strategies? ›

The High Five strategy is a reading comprehension learning strategy that consists of five steps, namely activating background knowledge, questioning, analyzing text structure, creating mental images, and summarizing. This strategy is believed to be able to improve students' reading comprehension skills.

How do you engage children in reading? ›

10 top tips for parents to support children to read
  1. Encourage your child to read.
  2. Read aloud regularly.
  3. Encourage reading choice.
  4. Read together.
  5. Create a comfortable environment.
  6. Make use of your local library.
  7. Talk about books.
  8. Bring reading to life.
Apr 25, 2022

Why are reading materials important? ›

supporting understanding new words through illustrations. encouraging conversation and discussion skills. strengthening visual and critical thinking skills by helping your students connect their observations with their thought process.

How can teachers teach reading? ›

Teaching reading: strategies & methods
  1. Read aloud to students.
  2. Provide opportunities for students to read, write and talk about texts.
  3. Read texts repeatedly to support fluency.
  4. Teach children the tools to figure out words they don't know.
  5. Provide time for studying spoken language, including vocabulary and spelling.
May 11, 2021

What is the best reading approach and why? ›

Generating and asking questions

Formulating questions and searching for the answer in the text throughout reading is a great strategy to increase comprehension. Asking the right questions will help you focus and identify the important information in the text. It will help you with your problem-solving skills.

What are the three teaching and learning theories for teaching reading? ›

The current major theories of reading and writing processes and development are the constructivist theories, sociocultural theories, and ecological theories.

What is the value of reading? ›

Reading improves your vocabulary and your knowledge of the world. It can open minds to different ideas which may challenge our own and cause us to view things in a different light. A study by Delgado, Vargas, Ackerman and Salmeron, published in 2018, demonstrated that reading also improves written comprehension skills.

What skill is most important for students just learning to read? ›

Phonological Awareness

Phonological, or phonemic, awareness has been cited as the biggest factor in a child's future reading ability. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and use individual sounds in words. These sounds can be individual letter sounds, blends of consonants or vowels, or a combination.

What is the most important skill for a child? ›

Communication, reading and writing (also identified as a “most important” by 3/4 of American adults) are all skills related to language and literacy, and they develop together starting in early childhood.

What are the four most important reading skills? ›

The ultimate goal in reading is comprehension, but being able to comprehend a text accurately requires strength in each of four skill areas: alphabetics, vocabulary, fluency, AND comprehension.

What are the benefits of early reading? ›

Early reading ignites creativity, sparks curiosity, and stimulates the imagination in young children. Often, this leads to role-play as children grow which helps to develop other skills such as empathy, problem-solving, and morality.

Why is material development important? ›

Material development play such a central role in EFL learning because they effectively mediate between the course content, the teacher and pupils. ... ... Material development play such a central role in EFL learning because they effectively mediate between the course content, the teacher and pupils.

What are the qualities of effective learning resources? ›

Effective resources are clearly written and designed in a way that makes them easy to understand and use. They incorporate deliberate learning supports that help learners understand key concepts. At the same time, they take account of the need to organise material as clearly as possible to avoid overloading the user.

Why materials should achieve impact to the students? ›

Materials should achieve impact. Impact is achieved when materials have a noticeable effect on learners, that is when the learners curiosity, inter- est, and attention are attracted. If this is achieved there is a better chance that some of the language in the materials will be taken for processing .

What are teaching-learning materials explain? ›

Instructional material, also known as teaching/learning materials (TLM), are any collection of materials including animate and inanimate objects and human and non-human resources that a teacher may use in teaching and learning situations to help achieve desired learning objectives.

What is learning materials in learning plan? ›

In the field of education, TLM is a commonly used acronym that stands for "teaching/learning materials." Broadly, the term refers to a spectrum of educational materials that teachers use in the classroom to support specific learning objectives, as set out in lesson plans.

What is learning materials in teaching? ›

Learning / Instructional materials is a broad term for materials used in classrooms to support teaching and learning.

What is effective teaching and learning? ›

effectively allocates time for students to engage in hands-on experiences, discuss and process content and make meaningful connections. H. designs lessons that allow students to participate in empowering activities in which they understand that learning is a process and mistakes are a natural part of learning.

How do you plan an effective learning strategy? ›

Developing an Effective Learning Strategy
  1. 1) Structuring your strategy. ...
  2. 2) The importance of being goal-driven. ...
  3. 3) Short-term versus long-term business goals. ...
  4. 4) Assessing needs. ...
  5. 5) Legislative requirements. ...
  6. 6) Put the learner at the centre of the strategy. ...
  7. 7) The key to successful implementation. ...
  8. 8) Measure!
Jul 25, 2017

What cognitive strategies are taught in schools? ›

Cognitive strategies are one type of learning strategy that learners use in order to learn more successfully. These include repetition, organising new language, summarising meaning, guessing meaning from context, using imagery for memorisation.

What are the 3 strategies to make your reading easy? ›

7 strategies to improve your reading comprehension skills
  • Improve your vocabulary. ...
  • Come up with questions about the text you are reading. ...
  • Use context clues. ...
  • Look for the main idea. ...
  • Write a summary of what you read. ...
  • Break up the reading into smaller sections. ...
  • Pace yourself. ...
  • Eliminate distractions.
Mar 10, 2023

Is there a program to teach a child how do you read? ›

The best programs to teach your child to read. Reading Eggs, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Teach Your Monster to Read, and Hooked on Phonics are among the 5 best programs to teach your child to read. And yes, we feel Teach Your Child to Read™ is also an excellent choice!

What are the methods of teaching reading skills? ›

Some of the more popular approaches are briefly described below.
  • Phonics approach. The phonics approach teaches word recognition through learning grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) associations. ...
  • Linguistic method. ...
  • Multisensory approach. ...
  • Neurological Impress Technique. ...
  • Language experience approach. ...
  • Reading comprehension support.

What are the 5 reading techniques? ›

The acronym SQ3R stands for the five sequential techniques you should use to read a book: Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review.

What are the 6 basic reading skills? ›

Because of the importance of these components, they have become known as the 'Big Six': oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

Which skill is most important for a student just learning to read? ›

Phonological Awareness

Phonological, or phonemic, awareness has been cited as the biggest factor in a child's future reading ability. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and use individual sounds in words. These sounds can be individual letter sounds, blends of consonants or vowels, or a combination.

What is effective reading skills? ›

Skills of Effective Reading

Read material efficiently: pick up a piece of material, engage actively with it, and finish. Annotate written texts (in other words, they write directly on the texts) or take notes as they read. By doing this, you enter into a discussion with the text, interacting with it.

How do children learn to read phonics? ›

It is important for children to learn letter-sound relationships because English uses letters in the alphabet to represent sounds. Phonics teaches this information to help children learn how to read. Children learn the sounds that each letter makes, and how a change in the order of letters changes a word's meaning.

How do I teach my child to read phonics? ›

Play alphabet games using phonics

Phonics games and Word games such as I-spy are great for this. Ask your child to look for something starting with “A”. Rather than saying the letter name, say the letter sound. This will help your child get used to using phonics before they even start to read.


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