I came across this article in searching for reading strategies specific to middle-schoolers. I wanted to focus on the 6th-8th age group just because I’ve been in a 10th grade classroom a lot this year and I wanted to make sure I could find strategies that could apply to a younger age as well.
This article, The Middle School 5, by Amy Goodman, focused on five different strategies for helping middle school students with reading.
The first strategy was ‘Read around the Text,’ which was all about slowing students down and having them analyze while reading. This is similar to other strategies I came across for reading, but what I felt was different about this strategy were the specific questions. The questions are clear and easily understood. Students will be asked to look at pictures, first lines of text, graphs, captions, and then self-question. I liked this because it gave students ample time to analyze the text and it could be used before or during reading. Students are encouraged to look at what’s around the text, which is just as important as what they’re actually required to read.
The second strategy, ‘KIM Vocabulary Sheets’ was another way of having students slow down while reading. They were given a vocabulary sheet where they were asked to write a key word, information/definition (which could be dictionary definition or one in the student’s own words), and then a picture/image to help them remember. The article talked about linking these vocabulary sheets throughout different disciplines which I liked. That way class material can be integrated through different contexts to help students be more comfortable with words and looking up their meanings.
The third strategy was ‘Two Column Notes’ which is something I used a lot in middle and high school. I appreciated how the article mentioned the importance of teachers actually explaining how to use the notes, rather than expecting students to just take notes on a topic. I remember my teacher in eighth grade going over note taking, and as boring as I thought it was at the time, I actually found it useful afterwards, as it gave me some new strategies for how to be more concise in my note taking and not worry about having everything word-for-word. I like this strategy because it gives students more responsibility in their classwork/homework. It also helps them to organize material for assessment.
Strategy four, ‘Reciprocal Teaching,’ was again something I remember from my middle and high school years. In this strategy, students are assigned different roles for discussion or classwork. There they are asked to either summarize, question, predict, or clarify reading material. I like this strategy especially for small-group work because students can bounce off of each other in discussion. It also helps students to learn from each other, respond to one another, and understand the material deeper. I also think that assigning students different roles (even adding things like creativity – drawing, a short creative writing piece, etc.) can help them feel responsible for certain parts of reading and give them a sense of accomplishment in their specific tasks.
The final strategy was ‘VIPs & Summing It Up’. This seemed to me more like a note taking strategy than anything. Students will gather the Very Important Points and organize their material for summary paragraphs. I like this because it forces students to gather the main ideas and organize them with an author name, page number, and quote or summary of text. For students getting ready to write research papers or paragraphs with in-text citations, this can also be extremely useful as a reference.