Review of Key Strategies for Effective Reading Instruction

This article briefly overviews key concepts applied throughout reading instruction to maximize effectiveness.  Apply these general strategies to class, group and individual reading instructional activities.

· Effective Direct Systematic Phonics Instruction: The research clearly demonstrates “systematic and explicit instruction in phonics produces significant benefits for children from kindergarten through sixth grade and for children having difficulty learning to read.”  To achieve effectiveness, phonics instruction needs to be systematic, explicit and importantly provide opportunity for the student to practice applying the phonics knowledge to reading of words, sentences and stories. In addition to the results based research, we now have neurobiological proof phonologic based reading programs that specifically teach letter-sound correspondence can actually develop neural pathways necessary for proficient reading in both children and adults.  See the article Proven Effective! Direct Systematic Phonics Instruction.

· Direct/Explicit Instruction: Explicitly teach each skill. Directly teach students exactly what they need to know. Direct instruction prevents the situation where students fail to learn simply because they inadvertently missed essential information or skills. Many students do not learn with indirect, embedded, analytical or incidental approaches. Explicit instruction is most effective and efficient. Direct instruction helps the student learn.

· Systematic Presentation: A step-by-step, pre-planned, carefully controlled presentation helps students learn the complex process of reading. Systematic presentation allows the student time to practice and master individual skills before additional complexities are added. Start simple, teach foundational skills, and add complexities slowly. Systematic presentation breaks the complex process of reading into manageable ‘bite-sized’ skills allowing the student to achieve success one step at a time as they build their way toward proficient reading. Reading is a complex learned skill. Systematic presentation helps students learn and succeed.

· Targeted Multisensory Activities:  Multisensory processes (visual, kinetic, auditory, oral) can help the student learn. To achieve effectiveness in reading, these multisensory processes must be carefully targeted to directly establish the skills necessary for proficient reading.  It is not the sensory process itself but the targeted application of these multisensory processes to the development of specific skills that is key to enhanced learning in reading.

· Age appropriate presentation: Presentation of instructional activities needs to be appropriate for the age/level of the students. Younger children and older students have very different needs and considerations. While the science of proficient reading and core elements of effective reading instruction applies to all age levels, presentation is different for young beginners than it is for older remedial students. Adjust and adapt presentation to the appropriate age/level/needs of the students.

· Immediate & Effective Correction: Correction is not negative; it is a positive opportunity to help the student learn. To be effective correction must 1) stop the incorrect process and 2) teach and build correct skill.  With beginning readers correction prevents learning wrong. In remediation, correction is essential to extinguish the improper processing and build correct skills.

· Monitor and Adjust: Teaching and learning are different. Monitor constantly to insure the student has actually learned/acquired the skills. Make appropriate individual adjustments. Monitoring is important in beginning reading to insure the child has actually acquired necessary skills. In remediation, struggling readers lack specific skills. Monitor carefully to ensure they have actually acquired the necessary skill. Monitoring is linked closely with effective correction.

· Struggling Readers/Dyslexic Students Need Direct Effective Phonologic Based Intervention: When a student struggles with reading, intervene immediately and directly with effective phonologic based intervention program. The earlier the better. The evidence proves struggling students do not ‘grow into reading’ or ‘catch up later’. Direct effective intervention is necessary. See the articles  Students Who Face Difficulties Learning to Read: Information on Reading Problems and Dyslexia and How to Help a Child or Student Who Struggles With Reading Overcome Their Reading Difficulties and Achieve Reading Success


For specific elements of effective beginning reading programs and effective reading remediation/reading intervention programs see the articles:  

· Elements of an Effective Beginning Reading Program: How to Help Children Establish a Strong Foundation of Correct Phonologic Processing 

· Elements of an Effective Reading Remediation Program to Improve Reading Skills in Struggling Readers


For additional background information on WHY these strategies are effective see the articles:

· How Reading Works: The Biologic Process of Proficient Reading and Exciting Scientific Proof - We Can Help Students Learn to Read Proficiently!

· Important Background Facts on Written English Language Essential to Effective Reading Instruction

· Overview of Teaching Children to Read: Why Reading is Difficult and What You Need to Do to Make Sure Your Child Learns to Read Proficiently

· Summary of Key Research Findings and Links to Research


Additional free information on teaching students to read is located at Reading Information and Information & Resources for Teaching Reading pages of the Right Track Reading website. 


This article was written by Miscese Gagen a mother with a passion for teaching children to read proficiently by using effective methods. She is also a successful reading tutor and author of the reading instructional programs Right Track Reading Lessons and Back on the Right Track Reading Lessons. The purpose of this article is to empower parents and teachers with information on teaching children how to read. We CAN improve reading proficiency, one student at a time!  More information is located at ~ Copyright 2008 Miscese R. Gagen