Building Confident Readers

Hello fellow readers!
Tara Looney here from Looney's Literacy. Hope you're all enjoying your summer. I love to use this time to reflect and prepare for next year. One of the common issues we addressed last year was some of our young readers' lack of confidence. So I got to thinking of some ways we've addressed this issue in the past and come up with a couple of solutions.

You know that little girl that looks at you every time she’s not sure of a word or that little boy that will make some attempts but still looks to you for reassurance. Did you know that one of the worst things you can do is to nod your head  or “lead them.” At this moment they’re feeling the comfortableness of taking charge of their own learning. Most likely, up until this point they’ve relied and have been unknowingly scaffolded to a lack of confidence.

Not to the fault of anyone. We only want what’s best for our students. We’ve been trained to scaffold when necessary and in my experience many unsuspecting early literacy educators (myself included) have fallen into the trap of not knowing when to back off. There is a fine line with new literacy learners between what they can do (what’s in their zone of proximal development) and what needs scaffolding.

After discovering I was guilty of this I began working on being more aware of my student’s zone of proximal development and what I needed to scaffold. Am I always right? Absolutely not, but getting into a reflective practice and really being truthful and intentional have helped me become closer. This however, does not help me with the students that still lack confidence and need constant reassurance so I began looking at what I could do to help students overcome the helpless feeling.  

Several years ago my district purchased Fountas and Pinnell's  Leveled Literacy Program. After using this program for a while, we began to notice a significant growth in reading and confidence levels. What we discovered was the success the students were feeling by the level of texts that they were reading daily. With this particular program the level of text changes from easy to instructional every other day. So our students were feeling successful on the easy level day and confident enough to try problem solving the next with the instructional level. It was amazing to watch so we applied this theory to our upper grade students with same amount of  success.

In my experience, I’ve also seen students who have a difficult time processing visually become defeated and quickly lose confidence.  I’ve found with this particular scenario the best way to encourage these learners is to rely on meaning. When teaching accuracy strategies; while it’s important to balance them and use the one that is most appropriate for the situation, having them rely on “does it make sense?” will  be the one to booster confidence.  

There are many  reasons why students lack confidence in themselves as readers. Understanding why could just be the key to helping them gain that confidence back. Helping them feel successful without having to rely on others is key!

No comments