Learning to Read

summerreadingGood day fellow bloggers! I have the pleasure of blogging this week from sunny Florida…as I visit family and wind down the summer in preparation for back to school. Like many educators I have difficulty ‘turning off the teacher’ while on vacation. So, as I have been relaxing on the beautiful beaches, I have also been thinking about the great research and resources that come out of this sun-shiny state. This is the inspiration for my blog this week.

My youngest son was diagnosed with Dyslexia, a Reading Disorder, at the end of grade four.  I will discuss that journey in future blogs, but for the purpose of this post it is important to know that I have focussed my education and attention to this subject for not only professional, but personal reasons as well.

I recently led a workshop that was entitled “Learning to Read.” The audience was a diverse mix of educators and professionals. The purpose of the workshop, as you may guess, was to share different strategies for teaching struggling readers.  A large part of this workshop centered around various visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile ways of teaching reading – the foundation of Orton-Gillingham Methodology. The other focus of the workshop was some of the great resources I have encountered and use regularly in teaching reading.

In this workshop I talked about the different components of learning to read. Reading is not simply decoding and phonics. Good readers must understand what they are reading. As an educator this is often a difficult message to relay to parents. Many believe that if a child can read a book, they can understand it – but this is not always the case. Like teaching phonics, comprehension can be taught to readers, but there must be a balance in reading instruction. We need to ensure that students are learning not only how to decode words (phonics), but also how to read fluently and what type of questions to ask to get the most out of what they are reading.

Five Components of Reading

It is vital to understand that good readers must attend to five important components of reading:

  1. Phonics
  2. Phonological Awareness
  3. Fluency
  4. Comprehension
  5. Vocabulary

These five areas provide a balanced approach to reading instruction. Each element is equally important, yet not mutually exclusive in successful literacy programs.

So what kinds of great resources?


One of my favourite resources that provide adequate focus and balance for reading instruction is the Florida Centre for Reading Research (www.fcrr.org). This website provides the latest research in reading remediation and instruction. Even better, the website provides a wealth of usable, printable resources that are centred around the about-listed five components of reading. The resources are sorted according to the components and are also accessible by grade.

The resources are in pdf format and are both printable and downloadable. There are so many activities available that it can be overwhelming to organize. I generally print off the activity according to the lesson planned, as needed.

I have also taken some of the activities and turned them into task baskets for students with higher needs that are learning how to read. Many of the resources are easily adaptable for varying needs.

Did I mention that this website is 100% free? A great deal, for sure.


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