Reading Instruction: 6 Critical Techniques

Reading has always been the linchpin in a child’s educational growth, opening doors in all other areas of learning. Nobody is more aware of this than educators.

In 1997 the National Institute of Child Health and Development joined with the Department of Education to establish a National Reading Panel—a 14-member group consisting of people of various backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research. Their purpose was to evaluate existing research and determine how to best teach children how to read.

In 2000, after reviewing more than 100,000 reading studies, the panel released its report. One of their key findings was that the best approach to reading instruction incorporates a combination six critical techniques that build upon and complement each other.

  1. Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
  2. Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven’t seen before without first having to memorize them.
  3. Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
  4. Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
  5. Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.
  6. Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they’ve read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they’ve read to gain a better understanding of the material.


Teaching Phonemic Awareness: A Fundamental First Step

Effective reading instruction begins with phonemic awareness. Phonemically aware students understand that the symbols or letters that represent sounds are not random or arbitrary.

Watch this video segment above to see classroom examples of teaching phonemic awareness.

You can also download the accompanying study guide that offers a summary, reflection questions, and links to additional resources for further study. These materials are part of a comprehensive series of videos and downloadable resources on reading, available only on Edivate.

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