Author Topic: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update  (Read 1267 times)

DizzyDaisies

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Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« on: June 14, 2021, 02:47:53 PM »
My middle school aged son has trouble with reading comprehension and test taking (which I’m sure is related to the reading comprehension issues). Our school district is small and crappy, and the only way they will give him extra reading help is to also put him in a remedial level math class. He does well in math and we are not willing to sacrifice his math skills to improve his reading skills.

Does anyone have any recommendations regarding an online program or app that would help improve reading fluency and comprehension? It looks like there are multiple options. I’m hoping someone here might have some first-hand experience and be able to make a recommendation. I think he would do best with an app style program with short, age-appropriate lessons. I’m thinking 20-30 minutes, 4-5 days/week.

Side note: in doing some research, I came across brain training apps like BrainHQ, but read very mixed reviews. I don’t think that would be the best approach for what he needs, but it might be a helpful adjunct. Any thoughts or experiences? Thank you so much!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 02:52:14 PM by DizzyDaisies »

Sibley

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2021, 02:59:39 PM »
Does he read for pleasure? As far as I know, the best cure for reading problems is reading practice. Assuming that there isn't a learning disability involved. Get him reading. Anything. Comics count.

And yes, your school district sucks.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2021, 03:09:00 PM »
Does he have trouble with decoding multisyllable words?   When he reads a aloud, does he stumble over the longer words or say a word that sort of makes sense in context?  Or is his reading fine but he isn't retaining what he has read?

There are many students who aren't proficient at decoding words, even in middle school, and it can make it hard for them to pay attention to what they are reading.  Usually these students will also have bad spelling.

seemsright

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2021, 03:32:47 PM »
I have a middle schooler. She finishes 6th this week.

We have worked with her to teach her how to take tests. We have shown her the tricks that are used to have gotcha questions. How she needs to slow down and reread the questions she is not sure of, to read the questions first as most of the time they will answer other test questions on the same test. DD thinks tests are a great puzzle. She is able to get high grades on them, show adults what she knows. and it is fun to do only half of the test and still get a good grade...'I knew I did not need to do that part'

We also have shown her how to speed read.

We have also gotten her a Kindle. (I read about 30% faster on the kindle than a paper book I think it has to do with the angle of the left page.) Teaching her how to read faster, has allowed her to slow down and comprehend. She was able to learn how to control the reading speed.

There could be a couple issues going on with the test part. Reading comprehension, test anxiety or lack of study skill, distraction.

My suggestion is buy a paper book and the audio version. But the audio version on a speed that he can read to and match the reading to the audio book speed. Work on increasing the audio book speed.

My project this summer is to have DD cook recipes from Julia Childs cookbook Mastering French Cooking. To work on just this concept. She will have a direct result to if she did the recipe right or not. And she will learn how to cook. Working on things like reading comprehension in a fashion that DD does not really know it is reading comprehension is how I get my message across.

I am a huge nerd when it comes to this type of thing. I had a hell of a time with tests in High School and College. I had to work very very hard on learning how to take tests. And I went all in when I had my DD and taught her this from the get go. Because I knew it was such a important skill. 

 

Freedomin5

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2021, 03:39:23 PM »
Have him assessed by a reading specialist. They’ll be able to determine whether it’s a language-based reading difficulty or a visual-based reading difficulty and can make appropriate recommendations for treatment.

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2021, 04:16:10 PM »
Does he read for pleasure? As far as I know, the best cure for reading problems is reading practice. Assuming that there isn't a learning disability involved. Get him reading. Anything. Comics count.

And yes, your school district sucks.

He absolutely hates to read. We haven’t tried comics though. Thank you for the suggestion!

You wouldn’t think we live in a state with some of the highest property taxes in the country with how awful our district is.

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2021, 04:22:37 PM »
Does he have trouble with decoding multisyllable words?   When he reads a aloud, does he stumble over the longer words or say a word that sort of makes sense in context?  Or is his reading fine but he isn't retaining what he has read?

There are many students who aren't proficient at decoding words, even in middle school, and it can make it hard for them to pay attention to what they are reading.  Usually these students will also have bad spelling.

He has some trouble with multisyllable words. I think fluency is a more minor issue for him, with comprehension being a larger issue. And yes, he doesn’t spell well but so much work is done on the computer now that spell check is masking that.

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2021, 04:46:23 PM »
I have a middle schooler. She finishes 6th this week.

We have worked with her to teach her how to take tests. We have shown her the tricks that are used to have gotcha questions. How she needs to slow down and reread the questions she is not sure of, to read the questions first as most of the time they will answer other test questions on the same test. DD thinks tests are a great puzzle. She is able to get high grades on them, show adults what she knows. and it is fun to do only half of the test and still get a good grade...'I knew I did not need to do that part'

We also have shown her how to speed read.

We have also gotten her a Kindle. (I read about 30% faster on the kindle than a paper book I think it has to do with the angle of the left page.) Teaching her how to read faster, has allowed her to slow down and comprehend. She was able to learn how to control the reading speed.

There could be a couple issues going on with the test part. Reading comprehension, test anxiety or lack of study skill, distraction.

My suggestion is buy a paper book and the audio version. But the audio version on a speed that he can read to and match the reading to the audio book speed. Work on increasing the audio book speed.

My project this summer is to have DD cook recipes from Julia Childs cookbook Mastering French Cooking. To work on just this concept. She will have a direct result to if she did the recipe right or not. And she will learn how to cook. Working on things like reading comprehension in a fashion that DD does not really know it is reading comprehension is how I get my message across.

I am a huge nerd when it comes to this type of thing. I had a hell of a time with tests in High School and College. I had to work very very hard on learning how to take tests. And I went all in when I had my DD and taught her this from the get go. Because I knew it was such a important skill.

He was remote for this entire year so I was able to work with him a lot. The school contracted with an outside service for the remote learners, and it was a very multiple choice quiz heavy program. I spent the first few months really hovering and showing him the tricks of multiple choice tests, then I backed off little by little until he was working on his own. He did improve with reading skills and with multiple choice test taking.

He loves sports and is obsessed with his favorite baseball team. The summer project I gave him is to write 3 essay summaries of games.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2021, 04:51:26 PM by DizzyDaisies »

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2021, 04:52:47 PM »
Have him assessed by a reading specialist. They’ll be able to determine whether it’s a language-based reading difficulty or a visual-based reading difficulty and can make appropriate recommendations for treatment.

Thanks. I have a special ed teacher friend who I will ask for a recommendation.

Flat9MKE

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2021, 08:55:02 AM »
Good luck with your son.  Good reading comprehension is important for a lot of things in life, so it is great that you are working with him.

This thread points out a lot of the deeply rooted problems with our educational system though.  Learning "tricks" to take tests and being a "good test taker" is unfortunately a necessary evil in the system, but so misaligned with what learning should be about.  "Will this be on the test?"  No, then I can ignore it.

We should be educating children to LEARN, not to take tests!

GuitarStv

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2021, 09:04:43 AM »
Does he read for pleasure? As far as I know, the best cure for reading problems is reading practice. Assuming that there isn't a learning disability involved. Get him reading. Anything. Comics count.

And yes, your school district sucks.

He absolutely hates to read. We haven’t tried comics though. Thank you for the suggestion!

You wouldn’t think we live in a state with some of the highest property taxes in the country with how awful our district is.

My mother worked teaching special reading programs to children having trouble in elementary and middle school for forty years.  She would say exactly the same thing that Sibley did - the best way to improve reading and reading comprehension is to get a kid interested in doing it.  It's a skill learned through hours and hours of repetition.  Anything at all, and they'll need help at first.  Try to provide materials that are in line with their interests, work with visual media like comics if that works.  The natural inclination is to start them off with what you think they should be reading - but if you push things that are too hard too quickly they'll fail and give up so you have to carefully monitor what they're working on.

My mom was very, very anti-screen time as well.  Most of the kids that she had problems with were given lots of screen time (tv and video games) each day and had developed problematic patterns from this.  Kids get bored.  That's an important driving force for them to learn to do things.  Instead of  boredom -> read-a-book if they get into the habit of boredom -> watch a screen it can be very hard to break.

Sibley

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2021, 10:42:48 AM »
Does he read for pleasure? As far as I know, the best cure for reading problems is reading practice. Assuming that there isn't a learning disability involved. Get him reading. Anything. Comics count.

And yes, your school district sucks.

He absolutely hates to read. We haven’t tried comics though. Thank you for the suggestion!

You wouldn’t think we live in a state with some of the highest property taxes in the country with how awful our district is.

Of course he hates reading - it's hard! Really, throw out any notions you have of what he "should" read. Literally anything he's reading will likely help. Comics, magazines, baseball cards, etc. Think like you're trying to sneak vegetables into food. Have him write the grocery list and then read it off to you in the store.

There's also a reading scale thingy that classifies books on how hard they are to read. My teacher friend talked about it. That's not much to go on, but if you can find that info, it might help you find books that will be at an easy enough level that he's not getting too frustrated. That will help him with the stick-to-it needed while he improves his reading skill.

Remember when Harry Potter came out? And suddenly kids wanted to read Harry Potter, and they were working up to reading 700+ page books? Find his Harry Potter. He loves sports and his favorite baseball team - lean into that. Biographies on the players. Team history. It's not "reading practice", it's you happened to see this book at the library (never mind you spend 30 minutes searching for it) and thought he'd be interested because it's about his most favorite topic on the planet so you checked it out and he can flip through it. The book should seduce him into reading it. Your librarian can probably help.

I love to read, and am now really good at it. Yet I didn't actually learn to read until the middle of 3rd grade. I was in the remedial reading classes and everything, and no one is quite sure how I learned to read because suddenly it just clicked. Part of that was my mom created an environment where I pretty much HAD to read. If mom is reading a book, and dad is reading, and there's nothing else to do, at some point you'll be bored enough to pick up a book.

ltt

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2021, 11:19:32 AM »
Have you thought about hiring the special ed teacher?  Meet at a neutral place and have the teacher work with him on the reading comprehension issues. 

TrMama

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2021, 11:49:50 AM »
Have him assessed by a reading specialist. They’ll be able to determine whether it’s a language-based reading difficulty or a visual-based reading difficulty and can make appropriate recommendations for treatment.

Thanks. I have a special ed teacher friend who I will ask for a recommendation.

Ditto this recommendation. Some of the techniques used generally are actually detrimental for people with dyslexia. If we hadn't had my child tested then some of the "help" the reading specialist teachers wanted to provide her would've made things worse.

Can your son rhyme? Could he do it in K/Gr1? If not, that's something to pass on when you have him evaluated.

SunnyDays

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2021, 01:24:08 PM »
He needs a proper assessment to find out what the actual problem is.  Go to either a reading specialist or an educational psychologist.  (If your division has a school psychologist, they might also be able to assess.)  Making him do more reading without knowledge of the true issue(s) could just result in further distaste for reading.  No one likes to do hard things or things they might fail at.  Know what you’re dealing with first.

Justdreaming

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2021, 03:08:55 PM »
One app you might consider is Lexia. I believe they offer home access (Lexiaforhome.com). My 4th grader used it with her school and found it engaging and helpful. I believe they have content for older kids too.  A one year subscription is $175.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2021, 10:51:53 AM »
Does he have trouble with decoding multisyllable words?   When he reads a aloud, does he stumble over the longer words or say a word that sort of makes sense in context?  Or is his reading fine but he isn't retaining what he has read?

There are many students who aren't proficient at decoding words, even in middle school, and it can make it hard for them to pay attention to what they are reading.  Usually these students will also have bad spelling.

He has some trouble with multisyllable words. I think fluency is a more minor issue for him, with comprehension being a larger issue. And yes, he doesn’t spell well but so much work is done on the computer now that spell check is masking that.

OK.  I'm an elementary school teacher, and I also provide remedial reading tutoring to students in grades K-8.  The first thing I check with a new student (no matter what the grade) is how well they can decode unfamiliar words.  Decoding is a foundational skill for reading comprehension.  By middle school (really by 4th grade) you want students to be able to decode ANY multisyllable word they come across, even a nonsense word, fairly automatically.   If they aren't automatic at decoding, it uses up valuable mental energy, and they have less energy for paying attention to what they are reading.

I do think an assessment by someone with experience in reading difficulties would be a good idea.

Here's a sample text on ReadWorks written at about a 7th grade level (1090 Lexile).

https://www.readworks.org/article/Is-the-Earth-Getting-Warmer/f94d1e31-81d8-4ce8-bdec-27425f722861#!articleTab:content/

"A more complex example of a similar phenomenon involves the Amazon rainforest. When temperatures rise, the rainforest experiences more droughts and wildfires. This causes more trees to burn down. Just as when humans burn fossil fuels, the burning of trees causes large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the world. Trees play two important roles in preventing global warming: they help absorb carbon dioxide, which prevents it from trapping heat in the atmosphere, and rainforest trees help pump water into the atmosphere. When trees burn down, less water is pumped into the atmosphere, which leads to less rainfall, which leads to more trees burning – which leads to more carbon dioxide being produced. These are both examples of positive feedback, but feedback can be negative too. When negative feedback occurs, an original effect is diminished."

A 7th grader should be able to read all these words automatically, even if he doesn't exactly now the meaning of, say "atmosphere" or "diminished" or "absorb".   (Perhaps "drought" might give him a little trouble if he never saw the word before.)

Just as an example, I have tutored students, SMART students, who would misread this paragraph in the following way:

"A more com...complete? (complex) ... exam  (example) of a sim...smiling? (similar) p... p... (skip)  (phenomenon) involves the Amazing (Amazon) rainforest. When temperatures rise, the rainforest experts (experiences) more drags (droughts) and wildfires. This causes more trees to burn down."

As you can see, if a student misreads even one or two words in a sentence that is from a content area non-fiction text, it can make comprehension very difficult.   So that is the first thing to check out, and you can do it on your own.  Find some grade level non-fiction text, ideally on a topic your child knows little about (so he can't use background knowledge to guess words that make sense) and see if he can read the text with 95% accuracy.  If not, that's where I'd start with a tutor. 








CrustyBadger

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2021, 10:56:25 AM »
Actually, ReadWorks "Article a Day" might be a good program for your son to use, but I would be sure to have him do it with you, by reading the articles aloud, if you have any indication that decoding could be difficult.  The articles also are read aloud for students.

https://about.readworks.org/article-a-day-routine.html

NCBlue

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2021, 02:06:56 PM »
I have been a school psychologist for 15 years and I am also a parent of a child with dyslexia.  I agree with others that it will be important to do some diagnostic assessments to figure out the root of the problem before you intervene. If you don't want to go the formal psychological evaluation route, which can cost quite a lot, you have some free options that can provide good information. I like the CORE phonics survey (you can find it free online, just do a google search) to look closer at some basic foundational phonics skills.  It would also be a good idea to determine just how fluently your child is reading.  Reading has to be fluent in order for sufficient comprehension to occur.  A good rule of thumb in regards to reading fluency is to expect around 100 correct words per minute for a middle of the year third grader reading third grade text. For a seventh grader end of the year expectation, you should expect around 150 correct words per minute reading grade level text. You can download free oral reading fluency probes from DIBELS.  Hopefully you have someone in your school that can provide some guidance and support.  I was able to give diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments remotely to students and you may have someone available who can do that for you as well.  If you are looking for a specific intervention for reading fluency, I really like Read Naturally online. It’s research supported, and I have used it with students and seen positive results. Plus you can get a 90 day free trial. You need to have an iPad or a laptop with a microphone to use it.  I also really like the HELPs program, which is also free to download through NC STate. It’s a really simple program to implement, and has lots of research support. If comprehension is the real issue, research shows that one of the best ways to improve that is through vocabulary instruction and exposure. One thing to also consider is that some kids simply do not attend to the text they are reading. It can help to have students read the text aloud, provide an oral or written summary of what they read, or do things like fill out graphic organizers. Whatever you can do to make the information more salient.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2021, 02:10:47 PM »
This was an area of work for me, so my suggestions:

1. As others have mentioned, have him properly assessed, and if he’s determined to have alternative learning abilities, then the school will need an individualized education plan for him that they must abide
2. Consider a private tutor who can work with him one on one
3. If he loves baseball and basketball, see how he does with biographies and fictional books focused on those two sports. Try getting him to read about current teams.
4. Work with a professional learning strategist to discover other techniques, but also to work out other ways he can absorb information that fits his learning style, while he learns what works best for him
5. Do whatever you can including therapy if necessary to help him have a positive self-image despite this challenge, and never let him feel shame because of it

TrMama

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2021, 03:04:33 PM »
One more thought. In addition to a reading or psych ed evaluation he should also have a regular vision checkup. We did this when my oldest was being tested for dyslexia and it turned out she was having trouble with her eyes as well.

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2021, 06:15:24 PM »
I just want to thank you all for your advice. I am blown away by the very thorough and helpful responses. I knew the mustachians would come through! By way of update, it turns out my special ed teacher friend is a reading specialist and I am hiring her to give him an assessment.

This was an area of work for me, so my suggestions:

3. If he loves baseball and basketball, see how he does with biographies and fictional books focused on those two sports. Try getting him to read about current teams.


Yes, we do have lots of reading materials in his areas of interest, which pretty much boils down to sports, sports, sports. Sports related fiction, sports magazines, books about his favorite teams, etc. I haven’t tried having him read on a kindle though. He might like that better, and I think I have one somewhere that my mom gave me as a gift.

I have been a school psychologist for 15 years and I am also a parent of a child with dyslexia.  I agree with others that it will be important to do some diagnostic assessments to figure out the root of the problem before you intervene. If you don't want to go the formal psychological evaluation route, which can cost quite a lot, you have some free options that can provide good information. I like the CORE phonics survey (you can find it free online, just do a google search) to look closer at some basic foundational phonics skills.  It would also be a good idea to determine just how fluently your child is reading.  Reading has to be fluent in order for sufficient comprehension to occur.  A good rule of thumb in regards to reading fluency is to expect around 100 correct words per minute for a middle of the year third grader reading third grade text. For a seventh grader end of the year expectation, you should expect around 150 correct words per minute reading grade level text. You can download free oral reading fluency probes from DIBELS.  Hopefully you have someone in your school that can provide some guidance and support.  I was able to give diagnostic and progress monitoring assessments remotely to students and you may have someone available who can do that for you as well.  If you are looking for a specific intervention for reading fluency, I really like Read Naturally online. It’s research supported, and I have used it with students and seen positive results. Plus you can get a 90 day free trial. You need to have an iPad or a laptop with a microphone to use it.  I also really like the HELPs program, which is also free to download through NC STate. It’s a really simple program to implement, and has lots of research support. If comprehension is the real issue, research shows that one of the best ways to improve that is through vocabulary instruction and exposure. One thing to also consider is that some kids simply do not attend to the text they are reading. It can help to have students read the text aloud, provide an oral or written summary of what they read, or do things like fill out graphic organizers. Whatever you can do to make the information more salient.

This is amazing. Thank you!!


OK.  I'm an elementary school teacher, and I also provide remedial reading tutoring to students in grades K-8.  The first thing I check with a new student (no matter what the grade) is how well they can decode unfamiliar words.  Decoding is a foundational skill for reading comprehension.  By middle school (really by 4th grade) you want students to be able to decode ANY multisyllable word they come across, even a nonsense word, fairly automatically.   If they aren't automatic at decoding, it uses up valuable mental energy, and they have less energy for paying attention to what they are reading.

I do think an assessment by someone with experience in reading difficulties would be a good idea.

Here's a sample text on ReadWorks written at about a 7th grade level (1090 Lexile).

https://www.readworks.org/article/Is-the-Earth-Getting-Warmer/f94d1e31-81d8-4ce8-bdec-27425f722861#!articleTab:content/

"A more complex example of a similar phenomenon involves the Amazon rainforest. When temperatures rise, the rainforest experiences more droughts and wildfires. This causes more trees to burn down. Just as when humans burn fossil fuels, the burning of trees causes large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the world. Trees play two important roles in preventing global warming: they help absorb carbon dioxide, which prevents it from trapping heat in the atmosphere, and rainforest trees help pump water into the atmosphere. When trees burn down, less water is pumped into the atmosphere, which leads to less rainfall, which leads to more trees burning – which leads to more carbon dioxide being produced. These are both examples of positive feedback, but feedback can be negative too. When negative feedback occurs, an original effect is diminished."

A 7th grader should be able to read all these words automatically, even if he doesn't exactly now the meaning of, say "atmosphere" or "diminished" or "absorb".   (Perhaps "drought" might give him a little trouble if he never saw the word before.)

Just as an example, I have tutored students, SMART students, who would misread this paragraph in the following way:

"A more com...complete? (complex) ... exam  (example) of a sim...smiling? (similar) p... p... (skip)  (phenomenon) involves the Amazing (Amazon) rainforest. When temperatures rise, the rainforest experts (experiences) more drags (droughts) and wildfires. This causes more trees to burn down."

As you can see, if a student misreads even one or two words in a sentence that is from a content area non-fiction text, it can make comprehension very difficult.   So that is the first thing to check out, and you can do it on your own.  Find some grade level non-fiction text, ideally on a topic your child knows little about (so he can't use background knowledge to guess words that make sense) and see if he can read the text with 95% accuracy.  If not, that's where I'd start with a tutor. 

This is all so helpful. Thank you!

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2021, 06:33:18 PM »
Ditto this recommendation. Some of the techniques used generally are actually detrimental for people with dyslexia. If we hadn't had my child tested then some of the "help" the reading specialist teachers wanted to provide her would've made things worse.

Can your son rhyme? Could he do it in K/Gr1? If not, that's something to pass on when you have him evaluated.

Yes, he can rhyme which he mastered in pre-k 4.

Good luck with your son.  Good reading comprehension is important for a lot of things in life, so it is great that you are working with him.

This thread points out a lot of the deeply rooted problems with our educational system though.  Learning "tricks" to take tests and being a "good test taker" is unfortunately a necessary evil in the system, but so misaligned with what learning should be about.  "Will this be on the test?"  No, then I can ignore it.

We should be educating children to LEARN, not to take tests!

Very true!

shelivesthedream

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2021, 06:24:08 AM »
I read something a while ago about beginner reading instruction which it seems might help you. You get them to spend a lot of time reading easy books at or below their current level of confidence. The idea is that they spend time becoming fluent in the basics of reading and comprehension. I mean, literate adults don't sound out every word - they're drilled into our brain by repetition. Then when we come across a hard word or complex passage, we have our full conscious capacity available for it because the rest has moved into the automatic process.

Reading isn't fun if it's hard. But reading easy stuff can be instructive. Consider whether spending a few weeks just getting him to read easy peasy stuff as reinforcement rather than stretching him might be helpful. You can always move up a reading level of he gets bored or you feel he can handle it.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2021, 08:01:39 AM »
One more thought. In addition to a reading or psych ed evaluation he should also have a regular vision checkup. We did this when my oldest was being tested for dyslexia and it turned out she was having trouble with her eyes as well.

This too. I started "failing" maths when I was about nine or ten. We had weekly tests and I was getting 10%-30% when most were getting 75%+. Parents and teacher thought I must be bad at maths or bad at test taking. I don't know what clued them in, but my parents asked my teacher to give one test printed out on paper rather than on the board (I was sat at the back of the classroom). I got 100%, was taken to the optician, and glasses fixed my "issues" with maths entirely. Long shot, but worth a single optician trip to eliminate!

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2021, 02:47:31 PM »
Hi everyone. I wanted to pass along an update. My son had his reading assessment. I will be meeting with the teacher soon to go over the official results, but she sent me a brief summary. Surprisingly, he scored highly in comprehension, but has trouble with vowel and letter sounds, and decoding of multi-syllable words. So it seems to be more of a phonics issue. I am not an expert so I might be way off base, but I find this encouraging. Phonics/decoding seems like an easier area to improve on by working on some basics followed by getting more reading practice. We also set up an appointment with a baseball trainer because our son wants to work of a few baseball mechanics. The trainer sent him a document full of written exercises, which is great because he has to read it, comprehend it, and then perform the exercise. Plus he’s motivated because he wants to impress the trainer and he wants to improve his skill. So while on the surface, the trainer seemed like a rather unmustachian expense, it’s actually quite an unexpected win!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 02:51:52 PM by DizzyDaisies »

GuitarStv

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2021, 03:20:00 PM »
That's good news!



:P

DizzyDaisies

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2021, 06:28:44 PM »
That's good news!



:P

Haha!! That’s what I said to my husband! “So do we just get him Hooked on Phonics?”

Sibley

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2021, 01:43:00 PM »
Is that just repetition and practice? If so, then getting him reading more, even in sneaky ways, would help. But very good that there's not a bigger problem.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2021, 01:48:13 PM »
I've found Pinterest to be a great source of kids book recommendations. Very easily searchable by topic and age of child, then you tend to get links to loooooong blog posts with lists of books and short summaries.

I've searched for classic first read aloud chapter books, for example, or picture books set in China, or books which feature penguins prominently.

If you know his reading age and know he likes baseball, I'm sure you can find heaps of recommendations. Books with illustrations might help to make things easy for him too, by giving him a clue about what's happening on that page.

Freedomin5

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2021, 03:09:25 PM »
If it’s a phonics issue, Lexia, which was mentioned upthread is a great program.

Also, if the problem is decoding multi-syllabic words, it might be helpful to take him for a vision assessment with a vision therapist or developmental optometrist (not with the optician). An optician looks at “hardware” - whether your eyes sees things clearly. A vision therapist looks at “software” - whether your brain processes visual information accurately.

Some kids struggle with phonics and long words because their brain mixes up the order of the letters or makes the words wobble on the page, etc., leading to reading difficulties. It doesn’t hurt to rule out underlying medical/physical issues that may be contributing to observed difficulties.

Psychstache

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler?
« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2021, 06:35:18 PM »
I have been a school psychologist for 15 years and I am also a parent of a child with dyslexia.  I agree with others that it will be important to do some diagnostic assessments to figure out the root of the problem before you intervene. If you don't want to go the formal psychological evaluation route, which can cost quite a lot, you have some free options that can provide good information.

Another free option is of course also a full and individual evaluation from your local public school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has a Child Find provision that requires all public schools to evaluate students suspected of having disabilities. You can request the school to do an evaluation (for free) and unless they have compelling evidence to not suspect a disability they have to do an eval.

SunnyDays

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2021, 07:34:45 PM »
This may be totally off the mark, but when I was learning French, the teacher would have us pronounce long words starting with the last syllable. Then the second last and last, then the third last, second last and last, etc.  It seemed to work better than starting at the beginning of the word.  Maybe there’s less room for error that way?

CrustyBadger

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Re: Reading comprehension help for middle schooler? Update
« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2021, 09:52:11 AM »
DizzyDaisies, I share your optimism, because as a remedial reading tutor I have seen rapid improvement in older children with decoding instruction, IF the reason they were low in skills was just because they were "behind" or somehow missed instruction.  It happens a lot, actually, and sometimes the remediation can happen extremely quickly.

I do have some materials to suggest if you want to try remediating on your own.  Hands down the best program I have ever worked with is called ABeCeDarian.  It is brilliant, and dirt cheap as well compared to anything else out there.  It has no fluff, just critically important foundational skills.  However it does require a parent or tutor to work one on one with the student.  It isn't something you set him in front of and assign 12 pages per day.  You need to work it with him.

In a nutshell:

Book A:  basic consonants, short vowels, and basic digraphs (th ch, sh, ng.)  Basics of blending (reading) and segmenting (spelling) CVC, CCVC and CVCC words.

Book B1:  most common vowel teams (ee, ea, er, igh, ow) organized by sound.  One syllable words and a few two syllable words.   This is the book I use most often for my remediation.   The key has been to do each unit, and then have the students write the ten sentences given at the end of each unit as sentence dictation.   Use the words for spelling practice.   

Book B2:  More complicated vowel teams and special cases, more two and three syllable words.

Book C:  Prefixes and Suffixes -- this is a very important book for more advanced students.

Book D:  Greek and Latin Suffixes -- Excellent to work through for middle schoolers.

The author of the program, Michael Bend, has a ton of free supplementary resources on his website for special situations.  They are incredibly useful. 

Here's a link to his website:

http://www.abcdrp.com

The workbooks cost something like $12 each which is dirt cheap compared to so many programs out there.  This system is the fastest and most flexible of any I have tried, and I've explored a bunch.

Level A