I have a large group of at-risk readers that are in fourth grade
but reading on a second grade level. By this time they have
built up serious negative attitudes towards reading. They shy
away from reading aloud, sharing ideas, and creative writing.
Some of them don’t have listening skills and do have underdeveloped
thinking skills. I’ve had to try many innovative ideas to get
them to keep trying.
I decided on a number of measures.
First I asked for volunteers to come in once a week to read
and discuss books. A lovely retired couple very faithfully came
in, allowing us to split the larger group into four smaller
groups. Not only did the kids get to have more minutes to read
aloud, but the students and adults got to share ideas and reactions
and personal experiences. Everyone learned from the experience.
Next, I thought we should involve technology in the reading
instruction. To foster listening skills I had the students draw
the scene of the story and color it in. I reread the story noting
down each new event and they graded their picture on how many
details they included. Next, I showed them how to take a digital
photo of their pictures. They pasted the photo in their journals
and wrote a retelling of the story. We edited the stories and
instead of making a final handwritten copy, the students used
our IBook laptops to type the final copy. They printed out two
copies and attached one to their original picture to go home
and one in their journals to complete the class project. The
last step was to read the final story to the class using a karaoke
machine. They had to remember to hold the microphone properly,
and hold their story correctly so they could read the text to
an audience. We applauded for each child when they finished
All kids wanted to read their own stories aloud and to use the
karaoke. All students wanted to use the computer and printer.
All were thrilled to learn to use the digital camera. All were
reading, writing, listening and speaking. All thought themselves
a success and smiled which, of course, is half the battle.
Another way I motivate children to read is to attach the computer
to a projector and then onto a screen. The students read poems
(or stories) in large groups all at the same time. I am the
loudest. We then get to read aloud without embarrassment. It
gives them practice and they learn new words.
About Marianne Morin
I have been a teacher at Watkins Glen Elementary School for
21 years, and I love my job! When my children were young,
I went to Elmira College to get a Masters degree and a Reading
Specialist Certificate. At this same time I had a private
Nursery School at home which all of my own children attended
am currently a Reading Teacher working with 3rd and 4th grade
at risk students, and the Elementary School Technology Coordinator.
These two occupations, along with a husband who is a technology
consultant, have been my inspiration to incorporate technology
into the reading and writing process for at-risk readers.