Reaching Resistant Readers

From our Guest Blogger Sara Heintzelman

As we approach a new school year, we are likely to interact with students who struggle with reading. If you can understand why your students are struggling, chances are you will be able to find ways to help these resistant readers.

Understanding why students struggle
Although it may seem obvious, the best way to find out is to ask your students. Older students may have very specific answers such as, “I get made fun of when I read,” or “I get embarrassed when I have to read aloud,” or “The books we read are boring.”

Sara Heintzelman

Another effective strategy to determine student struggles is to collect and carefully analyze data. Reading fluency probes, anecdotal notes, and classroom observations can be helpful when determining patterns in the student’s strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to collect these pieces of data, it is equally as important to look at the data and then use the data to make decisions.

Finally, communicate with your team of teachers to gain their feedback and input. A simple classroom observation from another teacher may give you a different perspective. For example, a teacher who observes a struggling reader may notice that the student will not volunteer to read to the whole group, but when a teacher is not directly with their group will read aloud with peers. As the primary teacher of a large group of students, this may have gone unnoticed without another teacher’s observation.

Ways of overcoming reading issues

Listen to your students: If a student perceives that they get made fun of when they read, encourage all students in your classroom to praise each other after reading aloud. Allow that student to read passages you are confident they can successfully read aloud. Older students sometimes communicate that they are bored by the selections within reading curriculum. Do you give your students free time to read their own choice of books?

Share your own experiences: Talk about the books you personally read with your students; engage in meaningful conversations with students about how to find books that meet their interests. When you share your reading experiences, you may find that you have commonalities with your students and can make recommendations for their reading selections.

Provide choice: Give students a choice in reading materials whenever possible. Reading curriculum can be very scripted, but when the student has the choice to read about dogs or plants, often that choice alone can make the student feel in control and more willing to try their best.

Encourage discussion: Design your reading class in a way that students can engage with their peers about reading. Whether it is a structured conversation that you lead, or a time for students to recommend books to friends, this time to talk about reading is crucial to a child’s perception of reading.

Provide direct, explicit instruction: Teach the students how to read. Simple, but most commonly overlooked. Think about how the student best learns, and teach them through direct instruction.

Students resist reading for a reason. Talk to your students, teach your students, and ultimately, you will reach them.


Sara is a special education teacher and staff development facilitator at Centennial School of Lehigh University. She teaches upper elementary students with behavior disorders and mentors new teachers.

Thank you, Sara!

Back2 School Giveaway: FREE access to the COMPLETE Snap Reading Program!

Back to School is always an exciting time for both students and teachers. And now you have another reason to cheer:  Snap Learning is giving away 3 free access codes to our complete guided reading program!

What is the Guided Reading Program?

The Snap Reading Digital Program provides teachers with:

  • 130 English Language leveled, K-6, printable, PDF books
  • Interactive ebook versions of the print book for students on a chosen device
  • Data analytics of students performance

The value of this program is $89 (for 1 teacher license which can be shared with a class of 30 students) and used for 12 months.

Teachers can download, print and distribute the leveled readers, students get individual access to the digital interactive ebooks versions (desktops, tablets, Android, iOS, interactive whiteboards). Teachers can also access a dashboard with data for each student on how they have performed in the comprehension quizzes and word exercises embedded within the interactive ebooks.

How to participate?

To participate in this giveaway and get a chance to win a free guided program access, just click on the contest widget below and choose any of the promotional choices given.

We’ll be picking 3 lucky winners this week (August 26th to 30th) to receive access codes to the Snap Reading program.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five Great Back2School Reading Ideas

Time to get those young readers back into the grove of reading? Here are a few fun activities that can help you get those little gears moving!

Book Stack Bar Charts
Create a book outline or picture and write the actual title for each book and story, which a student has read. Then pin these books like a (growing) stack over the name of the student who has read it. Over the year you can add incentives to help the book stack grow high, and work like a visual bar chart of reading activity for each of your students. Students will be able to see who reads the most, compete to add to theirs, and view each others book titles.

Interactive Map Reading
Organize the students into groups and let each student read the instructions, and work together to find the shortest possible route on the interactive map.

Read a Funny Limerick
Limericks are hilarious if you know how to rhyme. With only four lines to a limerick, your students can get lots of reading and writing practice. Not to mention, lots of laughter.  Alternately print funny limericks with the required vocabulary level, and let students pick one from a box. They can first practice reading it to themselves and then read aloud to the class. The kids will soon figure out the pause, and speed that makes for a good limerick reading!

Put the Story in Order
Creates sets of simple stories with one sentence on every card. Bring a small group (equal to the number of sentences) to the front of the class and have them read their lines in jumbled order. Work with the rest of the class, to put them in sequence. Then get your students to read their sentences again so that the story makes sense.

Fun Word Games
Word scramble, hangman and word search games can all be played using the vocabulary words your students need to be familiar with.

iPad Curriculum: Snap! Digital Reading Program Reviewed

What it is: Snap! Digital Reading Program is a set of interactive leveled books that can be printed, viewed on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, interactive whiteboards or classroom computer.  All of the books in the program have been developed to help teachers meet requirements in the Common Core Standards in vocabulary and comprehension through the use of direct instruction, close reading, modeling, guided and independent practice, and text-dependent questioning.

Built-in Teacher Lesson Plans

Built-in Teacher Lesson Plans

Each leveled reader has a digital interactive version that includes fluency exercises, comprehension and multiple-choice type assessments.  As your students read, you can track what they are reading, view the digital assessments and performance reports.  These reports include information about CLOZE scores, multiple choice scores, and fluency.  You can also see information about the  last book they read (word counts, difficulty, words read correctly, etc.).  Snap! Digital Reading Program also includes lesson plans associated with each book.  While the program isn’t a free one, a year-long subscription to all materials (interactive ebooks for student, printable PDF versions of the books/lessons/other materials, and the data analytics for all of your students is just $89.  Pretty reasonable for access for every student in your class!

How to use the Snap! Digital Reading Program in your classroom: I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: when you have a limited classroom library (due to space, as a new teacher, budget, etc.) ebooks are such a great way to instantly expand that library exponentially!  Snap! helps you do that and more.  Not only are you able to offer your students additional access to reading material, they have the added benefit of getting interactive books that give you data so that you can better guide students in choosing books that will help them fall in love with reading.  The readers can also be used for reading interventions, guided reading, shared reading and tutoring.  The leveled readers are for students in grades k-8, so even if you have a super advanced second grade student, you can continually challenge them.

Snap! Digital Reader Library iLearn TechnologyRead the Full Review here: