14 How-Tos For Teachers That Make Texts More Accessible For Students

Passing on a lifelong love of reading is a big goal of any reading teacher.

State and national standards ask teachers to focus on increasingly complex texts. Many students aren’t yet ready to tackle them, and when every text is too difficult, students disengage. So here are 14 techniques that nationally known teacher–consultants Steve Zemelman, Smokey Daniels, and Art Hyde share for increasing a text’s accessibility.

Look for texts that are:

1. Shorter, not longer.

2. Connected to background knowledge the reader already has.

3. Familiar in settings or values.

4. Personally interesting to the reader.

5. Surprising, evoke curiosity, or present an interesting puzzle.

6. Frequently explain the technical terms it uses.

7. Filled with pictures, charts, visual features, and text features that add meaning.

Try these while teaching:

8. Allow a reader to choose a text, which increases interest and engagement.

9. Call upon a reader’s background knowledge and then build on it.

10. Teach comprehension strategies the reader can bring to any text.

11. Read the text aloud, ask a class member to read it aloud, or have students read aloud to one another in small groups.

Encourage readers to:

12. Mark, write, or draw on a text as they read.

13. Talk about the text during and after reading.

14. Write in the same genre as the text.

Heinemann Publishing

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