Teaching the Reading Process

( words) minutes to read 

How do I teach the reading process? What is the best way to teach reading? What are effective strategies for teaching reading?

If you’ve taught reading or are new to teaching reading, you’ve probably asked yourself one of these questions. So let’s get to finding answers.

In this post you’ll find:

  • Strategies for Teaching the Reading Process
  • What is the Reading Process?
  • Reading Skills
  • Reading Strategies

Before we get into how to teach the reading process, let’s look at how the brain learns to read.

Teaching the Reading Process

The reading process is one of the most complex sets of skills to learn. It is even more complex to teach well.

It seems that every 5-10 years reading pedagogy changes in new ways. The teaching strategies continually evolve. And still, the reading process is difficult to teach.

Trends in Teaching Reading

We’ve learned a few things about the reading process in the past few years. Here are highlights from the last 15-20 years of how to teach the reading process:

  • A natural whole language approach is important but not as effective as originally conceived.
  • Then we (re)discovered explicit skills instruction is also necessary.
  • Research in the 90s and 200s continued to show guided reading at a student’s zone of proximal development is an excellent teaching strategy.
  • Balanced literacy took the best of skills-drills and whole language.
  • In the late 2000s, the gradual release of responsibility became the best practice norm.
  • Now, it’s computer-aided instruction.
  • Next?

Can Teaching Reading Be Easy?

There’s no telling what’s next in teaching reading. We know one thing for sure, the reading process is still the same as it was 2 years ago, 6 years ago, and even 25 years ago.

Some have even suggested teaching reading can be as easy as 10 simple steps. Things such as:

  1. Be a good reading model.
  2. Read aloud.
  3. Ask questions.

These are good practices, but they don’t completely tell how to teach the reading process.

So what is the reading process and how do students learn is?

Reading is one of the most complex sets of skills to learn. In this post, we tackle the reading process head-on.Click To Tweet

What is the Reading Process?

It begins with the emotional engagement of a reader with a text.

This can come from curiosity, interest, confusion, or aesthetics. Engagement continues into a set of prereading strategies.

How to Teach the Reading Process - Prereading Strategies
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The reader begins in the reading process before even decoding the first sentence! These prereading strategies include:

  • scanning the covers,
  • skimming through the text,
  • making mental connections to prior knowledge, and
  • making predictions about the content of the text.

Finally, the reading begins, and more strategies are used during the reading.

Here are some helpful strategies for teaching the reading process to students.
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The reader continues to make predictions during the reading. Connections are made in the text, with other texts, and with life experiences.

The reader determines if the text is filling the original purposes for choosing the text. Self-monitoring, rereading, clarifying, and mentally summarizing help the reader to comprehend the text deeply.

[thrive_accordion_group title=”Reading Strategies (More Details)”][thrive_accordion title=”Making Connections” no=”1/3″ default=”yes”]Agentive reading allows students to be aware of their own thinking and make connections during the reading. Connections can be between texts, within the text itself, and to their own experiences. Students who make connections while reading have better overall comprehension when they read.[/thrive_accordion][thrive_accordion title=”Making Predictions” no=”2/3″ default=”no”] Students who actively think while reading will also actively make predictions. This is a habit of mind where they use what they already know to anticipate information in the text.[/thrive_accordion][thrive_accordion title=”Fluency” no=”3/3″ default=”no”] A major strategy of the reading process is fluency. This strategy is a set of smaller skills mostly: accuracy, decoding automaticity, and prosody.[/thrive_accordion][/thrive_accordion_group]

Reading Skills in the Reading Process

There are many reading skills that must develop for students to learn to read. More directly, reading skills make the reading process possible.

They are taught through modeling, explicitly explaining, guiding during reading, and independent practice.

[thrive_toggles_group”][thrive_toggles title=”What are the major reading skills?” no=”1/1″] Phonics requires students to learn sound-letter correspondence. Phonemic awareness requires manipulation of phonemes. Vocabulary skills help students build a deep knowledge of word meaning used in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Fluency skills empower readers to have speed, accuracy, and expression. Comprehension skills help reading construct meaning and intentional thinking about a text.[/thrive_toggles][/thrive_toggles_group]

With so many “in the head” skills, we can see why teaching reading is complex. Effective literacy instruction also requires many factors that must be addressed.  Here are a few to consider:

  • Ample time for instruction and practice.
  • Texts need to be carefully selected to address the need for just-right, but not too much, complexity.
  • Teaching strategies must be responsive to learners’ background and needs.
  • Opportunities for student talk, rigorous tasks, and sensitive assessment data must be strategically chosen by the teacher.
  • Tests must be reliable and provide learners and teachers with feedback on the next learning steps.
With so many in-the-head skills, we can see why teaching reading is complex. Effective literacy instruction depends on a few factors to consider.Click To Tweet

Reading Strategies

There are many types of reading skills, and there are types of reading strategies.

A reading strategy is the intentional thinking and choices that readers make. Strategies help the reader take control of reading.

Reading strategies empower the reader to engage in metacognition. Big word, right? It simply means the reader is aware of comprehension during the reader.

How to teach the reading process? Teach reading strategies. 

These strategies ensure readers aware of their own thinking. Here is list of some of these strategies:

  • Self-monitoring
  • Visualization
  • Summarizing meaning
  • Re-reading
  • Questioning
  • Making connections

Reading strategies must be taught to help students master reading skills. Model, explain, guide, practice, and feedback are all needed to help students learn reading strategies.

Emotional engagement in reading comes from curiosity, interest, or confusion. Build emotional engagement to build metacognition.Click To Tweet

Teaching the Reading Process is Tough

It’s not rocket science, but sure isn’t chewing gum either.

Teaching reading is tough. Strategies and techniques come and go, but the reading process is always the same. Teach the reading process, and you’ll build stronger readers and writers!

So, yeah, teaching reading is so much more than completing a worksheet or doing a test prep book. It involves so much thinking! Reading teachers are thinking coaches.

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”If you enjoyed this post…”] Consider sharing it with a friend or superstar teacher who teaches the reading process! [/thrive_text_block]

About the Author

TeamTom Education is dedicated to creating engaging teaching resources and strategies that make learning awesome!

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