Responsibility for strengthening adolescents’ literacy skills rests with many school personnel, from language arts instructors and reading specialists to content area teachers, speech and hearing specialists, school psychologists, and administrators. Reading specialists may be the most appropriate choice to teach skills that require more intensive intervention, such as phonemic awareness and phonics. However, content area instructors and others who learn more about proficient readers’ skills will be better able to recognize struggling students and adjust their instruction or make a referral to a reading specialist.
Here are some examples of strategies middle and high school content area teachers can use to build adolescents’ vocabulary and comprehension skills.
- Build vocabulary skills by pre-teaching new words. This practice reduces the number of unfamiliar words that may frustrate a reader and facilitates greater vocabulary acquisition and comprehension.
- Use computer technology to provide additional reading practice for students and help build vocabulary. Computer program animation may hold their attention longer. Encourage use of on-line dictionaries.
- Generate questions to improve text comprehension. Encourage readers to ask questions before, during and after reading to make sure they comprehend the text.
- Encourage comprehension monitoring by modeling “think alouds” to identify what is and isn’t understood.
Review more teaching practices in What Content-Area Teachers Should Know About Adolescent Literacy.