Practical Strategies for Supporting Struggling Readers

by | May 10, 2023


In our previous article, we discussed the benefits of Structured Literacy for struggling readers and its evidence-based approach to teaching essential reading skills. Now that you have a solid understanding of Structured Literacy, it’s time to dive into the practical side of things.


This article will explore strategies and techniques for effectively implementing Structured Literacy in the classroom. From lesson planning to incorporating technology, we will cover the essential aspects of creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment that promotes reading success for all students.


Lesson Planning for Structured Literacy

Effective lesson planning is crucial when implementing Structured Literacy in your classroom. Here are some tips to consider:


  • Begin with the end in mind: Identify the specific skills and concepts you want students to learn and plan lessons that will help them achieve these objectives.


  • Use a systematic approach: Plan lessons that follow a logical sequence, gradually building on previously taught skills and concepts.


  • Incorporate explicit instruction: Design lessons that include direct, explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


  • Include ample practice opportunities: Ensure that students have plenty of opportunities to practice and apply new skills through guided practice, independent practice, and meaningful reading activities.


  • Monitor progress and adjust instruction: Regularly assess students’ progress and use this information to inform your lesson planning and adjust instruction as needed.


Choosing Appropriate Materials

Selecting the right materials is essential for implementing Structured Literacy effectively. When choosing materials, consider the following:


  • Alignment with Structured Literacy principles: Select materials that emphasize explicit, systematic instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


  • Age-appropriate content: Choose materials that are engaging and relevant for your students, taking into account their interests, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.


  • Scaffolding and differentiation: Look for materials that offer scaffolding and differentiation options to support diverse learners, including struggling readers and those with learning disabilities.


Adapting Instruction for Diverse Learners

To ensure that all students benefit from Structured Literacy, it is essential to adapt your instruction to meet the diverse needs of your learners. Here are some strategies for doing so:


  • Differentiate instruction: Modify the content, process, or product of your lessons to meet the unique needs of individual students based on their abilities and learning preferences.


  • Provide additional support: Offer one-on-one or small group instruction to struggling readers who may need extra help in mastering essential reading skills.


  • Use multisensory techniques: Engage students’ visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses by incorporating a variety of teaching methods, such as using manipulatives, visual aids, and hands-on activities.


  • Foster a growth mindset: Encourage students to view their abilities as improvable and to persist in the face of challenges, emphasizing the importance of effort and perseverance.


Incorporating Technology to Enhance Learning

Technology can be a valuable tool for implementing Structured Literacy and supporting struggling readers. Here are some ways to incorporate technology into your instruction:


  • Use digital texts: Leverage e-books and other digital reading materials that offer text-to-speech, adjustable font sizes, and other accessibility features.


  • Explore educational apps: Utilize apps and online platforms that provide targeted practice in phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.


  • Facilitate progress monitoring: Employ digital assessment tools to streamline the process of collecting and analyzing data on student progress.


Creating a Supportive and Inclusive Classroom Environment

A positive classroom environment is essential for promoting reading success for all students. To create a supportive and inclusive atmosphere, consider the following strategies:


  • Cultivate a culture of respect: Encourage open communication and collaboration, and promote respect for diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds.


  • Set high expectations: Communicate that you believe in each student’s ability to succeed, and set challenging yet attainable goals for their reading progress.


  • Encourage a love for reading: Foster a passion for reading by offering a wide variety of engaging texts, providing opportunities for choice, and celebrating students’ reading accomplishments.


  • Provide a safe space for taking risks: Create an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions, making mistakes, and seeking help when needed.


  • Collaborate with families and other professionals: Work closely with students’ families, special educators, and other support staff to ensure that struggling readers receive the support they need to succeed.


Implementing Structured Literacy in the classroom requires thoughtful planning, adapting instruction for diverse learners, and fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. By incorporating these strategies and techniques, you can provide struggling readers with the targeted support they need to thrive. As you continue your journey with Structured Literacy, remember that your efforts have the potential to make a lasting impact on your student’s reading abilities and their future success.