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Mistake #3: Watering down information for struggling readers

Students of today face many challenges, as they enter a world that is changing at an unprecedented pace.  They face an uncertain future where they will need to be able to acquire new skills that may be unknowable at this time.

Teachers face the difficult task of preparing students for these immense challenges.  More than ever before, teachers require more effective and efficient ways to meet the needs of diverse groups of students.

All students need to understand grade-appropriate information.  If we continually water down information for students who struggle with reading, we widen the gap between those who can achieve and those who cannot.

The challenge is finding appropriate, well-written text at different readability levels.  Research has shown that students should be able to read –

  • 90-95% of the text with ease for it to be at their instructional level
  • 96-100% of the text with ease for it to be at their independent level.

Reading ease


Online Programs

One way to find leveled text for students is to use online programs where all students have access to the same rich information, while the readability levels of the text and the support systems provided adjust to the individual user.  Be careful to choose programs that automatically adjust to each student’s individual needs.  If not, you run the risk of turning students off to reading.

When students are continually assigned texts that are too challenging, they become frustrated and decide that it’s not worth the time and effort. The best programs teach students the strategies and skills needed to construct text meaning while providing lots of practice using these skills to understand the information.

online programs


Strategy graphic organizers will help students understand complex text. You will need lesson plans that support strategic thinking.  Here  are some useful websites you may find particularly useful:

  • For Free Graphic Organizers and Nonfiction Teaching Ideas based on the new CCSS Shifts, go to, click “Science Kits” in the Instructional Support Services box, then on the left side click “Common Core in Science”, at top of the page click on “CABOCES”, and look for interesting topics.
  • For Leveled Nonfiction:
  • For Strategic Lesson Plans:
  • For Nonfiction Reading Comprehension:

graphic features

Come back next week and learn some ways to avoid mistake #4: Teaching content-based vocabulary out of context.

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