As teachers, we work with kids in many different subject areas other than reading. In the case of middle school or high school teachers, we may not even work with our students on reading at all. However, with research showing the nearly two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 1 in 5 students having dyslexia, it is up to all of us to be aware of reading difficulties so we can get our students the help they need.
If you do not teach reading, there are still telltale signs that a student may struggle with a reading issue. If you teach a content that is reading heavy like science or social studies, you are in a prime position to help identify reading difficulties. Here are a few things to look out for in all content areas that may signal a possible reading or spelling challenge…
- When you ask students to write an essay or short response, check their spelling on rough drafts. Here are a few common spelling mistakes a student with a reading or spelling deficit might make…
- Spelling words as they sound (fol instead of fall)
- Mixing up letter sequences (silp instead of slip)
- Swapping vowel sounds (hilp instead of help)
- Using the wrong vowel digraph (broun instead of brown)
- Using a t instead of the suffix -ed (helpt instead of helped)
- Misspelling grade level appropriate words
- Words are correct on spelling test but misspelled when writing connected text
- When you ask students to read a content related passage you can also take note of any comprehension issues. If they do not understand what they have read, it is an indication they may be struggling with reading.
- Notice how long your students take to complete tasks. Often students with reading difficulties take significantly longer than their peers to complete academic tasks.
Even in math, you can help notice reading and spelling difficulties. Here are a few ways they may present themselves in a math class…
- Trouble remembering basic math facts, especially times tables
- Difficulty remember strings or sequences of numbers including phone numbers
- Difficulty knowing left from right
- Trouble remembering and following sequential directions
- Reversing numbers (writing or reading 37 as 73)
- Writing numbers backwards beyond when it is developmentally appropriate
If you are a content area teacher and you notice these signs in one or more of your students, it is important that you help them get the Structured Literacy intervention they need to be successful. Not only will it improve their reading, but it may also improve their performance in your class.Becky Welsch
Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.