Interventions to Support “Reading to Learn”
The following interventions can be applied to support all students to ‘read to learn’ in science – including students with LDs.
Additional strategies that can be successfully applied in the science class include:
Summarizing a text is known to help students with LDs recall important information (Malone & Mastropieri, 1992). This strategy is even more effective when the summary is supported by specific key phrases, words, and information from the text (Bakken et al., 1997).
For example, when reading a paragraph, students are asked to identify the main idea by locating it in the text (e.g. by underlining it); then they write one sentence that summarizes the main idea of the paragraph; finally, a few keywords in support of the main idea are recorded.
2. Keyword Strategy
The keyword method, a type of mnemonic strategy, is suggested when students are learning new words (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2010; Mastropieri et al., 1985). The keyword method utilizes acoustically similar words as meaningful substitutes or alternatives for unfamiliar words (e.g., vocabulary words, terminology, people, places) that must be learned for understanding important elements of the curriculum.
- The teacher introduces a new word by first identifying a keyword that sounds similar to the word being taught and is easily represented by a picture or drawing, then;
- The teacher creates a picture connecting words to be learned with its definition (Access Center, 2007).
When using this strategy, the educator must teach the students to analyse the image acoustically and visually so that, later on, they are able to retrieve the information associated with this mental image.
3. Guided Reflection
Following a specific lesson or reading on a given topic, task students with questions that help them to reflect on the topic of the lesson (Scruggs et al., 1994; Scruggs et al., 1993; Sullivan et al., 1995). This approach enables students to construct their own learning and their own explanations of the scientific concepts covered in class.
With this strategy, the educator provides basic information and then allows the students to build or construct the concept for themselves. It is recommended that the educator use scaffolding to support the student to stretch their higher-order thinking on the topic.
4. Student Discussion
In small groups, students take turns reading a paragraph from a text. After each reading, the other students ask questions of the student who was responsible for reading the given paragraph. The questions are designed to facilitate comprehension and to clarify the content. The educator then asks the students questions that were discussed by the group (Mastropieri et al., 2003):
5. Adapting Materials and Instruction
In order to encourage participation by students who are struggling the most, it may be a good idea to adapt the basic material to varying levels of difficulty. For example, for each activity suggested, there are three possible types of responses:
- choosing the correct answer from a multiple-choice list;
- providing the correct answer with the help of clues; and
- providing the correct answer without any prompting (Mastropieri et al., 2006).
When all activities are planned with varying levels of difficulty, students are given a choice of the level they would like to try, based on their needs (Scruggs et al., 2011).