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I Want To Learn To Read

Rita Stevens's picture

I Want To Learn To Read

Difficulties Incurred In Teaching Struggling Students To Read


Can I overcome all the obstacles that will come about because Ihave to teach students to read out of the norm?

Why don't school districts want to devote the time and money to research how struggling can be helped or even to utilize the research that has already taken place?

Why aren't there more parents involved in trying to find out why their child can't read and is in the 3rd, 4th or 5th grade?

Will the seriousness of this problem ever be grought to the forefront?

Why are these students crying out "I need help!" and nothing is being done? 

Question, questions, questions!  Will any of them ever be answered?  First, lets start off with a definition for reading:

The Nationa Institute for Literacy has defined reading for the purposes of The Partnership for Reading, the National Reading Panel, and the Reading First law, as:

A complex system of deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:

  • the skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are connected to print;
  • the ability to decode unfamiliar words;
  • the ability to read fluently;
  • sufficient background information and vocabulary to foster reading comprehension;
  • the development of appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print;
  • the development and maintenance of a motivation to read.

And you thought reading was just about saying words that are in print and knowing a little something about those words mean.

There are millions of children as well as adults that are struggling to read and want to learn to read.  Why is it that they are able to be successful.  In the presentation on Tuesday about neuroscience and the brain, I learned that even though these students are struggling to learn to read, it may not be dyslexia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), socioeconomic conditions but their problem may be further and deeper because of areas of the brain.  No matter what the cause though, these difficulties in reading usually lead to to such things as poor grades, frustrations, low self-esteem (sense of self), dislike of school and worst of all behavioral problems in and out of school.  We also take for granted that the parent(s) of these students can help them with their reading or even be able to read to them.  This may be a false assumption.  Now, how does the brain fit into all of these and can anything be done about it? Could it be a gene that has been passed down to the child?  Research wil tell.

The National Institue of Health NIH) has funded numerous research projects that has led to an improved understanding of reading development and what happens when children and adults have difficulties in learning to read.   Scientists are helping to improve reading skills by increasing this understanding.  Scientist have found that specific areas of the brain are linked to reading skills development.  Scientists have determined this from funtional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of children while they are reading.  Children with improved reading skills showed increasingly more demands on the left side of their brains involving language processing while at the same time depressing activity on the right side of the brain.  Scientists also linked the parieto-temporal and the inferior frontal areas to reading skills as being active when sounding out words and the occipito-temporal area for quickly recognizing familiar words (often used by skilled readers).  Scientists have only observed anad worked with the individual that is struggling to learn to read and therefore, at this point in time have not considered anything heredity.

Scientists think, basead on accumulating research, that skilled reading requires certain patterns of activity in a network of areas mostly on the left sife of the brain--including the inferior frontal gyrus, parieto-temporal region, and occipito-temporal region. Evidence suggests that the inferior frontal gyrus and the parieto-temporal; region help a reader to analyze a word, while the occipito-temporal region helps a reader to quickly recognize words. (Brain Reserach Success Stories at Society For Neuroscience)

Even though there has been advances made is reading intervention.  Research indicates that when children have difficulty acquiring phonemic awareness and phonics skills-using letters of the alphabet to represent the sounds in words and blending these sounds to form words-reading failure can result, and poor reading skills will be perpetuated without proper intervention.  My research has shown that there is hope and there has been successful intervention.  What I have not been able to find is what are these successful interventions.  I have emailed SFN to see if they can give me any additional information to help.


The pictures above show children into reading like all chldren should be.  My 8, 9 and 10 year olds that are still struggling to learn letter-sound association should be into reading like above.  I will be researching this for the rest of the summer.  Even with all the so called requirements that have to be met, I will find a way to determine why these students haven't learned to read and how their deficit can be turned around.  I will do my best to keep everyone posted on what I find out and how my students are making out.  I am determined to have them reading before I retire even if it means I have to stay a little (and I mean a little) longer to get it accomplished.  I know that I wil lhave to go outside of the School District of Philadelphia box, but it won't be the first time.  Things have changed since the first time I was a rbel, but I'm willing to take another write-up especially if it means I have taught a few more students how to read.  After all, if they learn to read, they will do better on the standardized tests.  Wouldn't that be fantastic.