5 Ways to Engage Upper Elementary Students in Reading

August 31, 2019

Hey Teacher Friend,

   I'm so glad you stopped by today! Today, I'm writing about one of the most challenging instructional topics for my 3rd-5th grade students! Having spent the last 5 years teaching 100% push-in Special Ed. I found that many of my students lacked interest in...drum roll please...Reading! In fact, I found that this wasn't solely a Special Ed. issue! Since I spent all of my teaching day in Gen. Ed. rooms helping my students and also Gen. Ed. kids, I found that many students lacked interest in reading in the upper grades. 
   The reasons for this vary somewhat from student to student, but nearly all of my students lacked confidence in their reading abilities because they had experienced little success in Reading. Confidence equals success. A kid who is willing to try Reading (sub. in anything here) because they believe they can do it, will eventually be a reader! Confidence is everything!<<<---That is half our battle as teachers most days!
   So, how can teachers engage these kids who have lost interest in Reading, again? How can we engage kids who may have never had an interest in Reading?

5 Ways to Engage Upper Elementary Students in Reading:
1. Allow student choice
   I know back in the day we had a lot less choice in what we could read as students. The teacher often picked the book for reading group, read aloud, and the school library was small, so a student's choice in what they could read was small. But, today it is different! Thanks to online libraries like OverDrive and Epic students have thousands of choices in addition to our classroom, school, and local public libraries.
   Why allow students to choose what they read? My answer would be that choice is motivating and that it allows for differentiation. (1)A student's motivation levels are very important and can help/hinder a student in school (and in life, too). Allowing students to choose their own texts allows for better differentiation, as long as you have taught them how to select the appropriate level book. 

2. Read aloud to your students daily
   All to often when students get to the age where they can read on their own the adults in their lives stop reading aloud to them. When in reality kids still enjoy hearing stories read aloud and it still has benefits for them.There are many reasons we should continue reading to older students: increased vocabulary, modeling fluency, let's them experience the joys of a story, and much more!(2)

3. Teach kids to use text to speech apps and embrace audio books
     As teachers we need to equip all students with the tools they need to succeed in our classrooms, this looks different for each student in our classes. Some of our students would greatly benefit from using one of the many text to speech apps. available through a Google Chrome extension. My 5th grade students who read below grade level were able to participate in the whole group lesson and discussion, after having the article read to them via a text to speech app.
   Remember the Listening Center with the tape player and tapes from childhood? Bring it up to date with digital audio books on tablets or Chrome books! You can check out digital audio books for free from your local library, my near 11 year old at home figured out how to do this all on his own! My 5th grade son loves listening to audio books and so have my 5th/6th grade students over the years!
4. Make Reading a Social Experience
   Reading is not just about enjoying a story by yourself. Start a student book club in your classroom and have students select the book from several sets you have access too. Do a book tasting, do book previews for your class of new books in your classroom library, have kids make video recorded commercials for books they have enjoyed, and so on. Allow kids to talk about the books they have read with their classmates. 

5. Teach Reading Strategies

 Close Reading Passage Bundle available from Undercover Teacher's Store
   While there are multiple reading strategies you could use to engage your 3rd-5th graders I'm going to talk about my favorite strategy. My favorite reading strategy for engaging my upper elementary students is...high-interest close reading passages. Many students often have questions about history, historical people, how we can help the Earth, and so on. I have use these sets of passages with lots of success in class! My students enjoy reading and listening to information about the different holidays and people. 
  Many students want to read about people in history who were like them. There are many close reading passages about women and minorities so that all students can read about a person similar to themselves. (Click on photos to view available resources.)

   As a special thank you for all your hard work trying to engage your students in reading, I'm offering a coupon to my store for $5.00 off any $10.00 purchase, this includes many of my close reading passage sets! The code to enter when you at checkout is: IREADTHEBLOG

  Thanks for stopping by! 

                         Happy Teaching,
                         Amanda, the Undercover Teacher

For more reading see sites below:
(2) https://www.readbrightly.com/importance-of-reading-aloud-to-big-kids/

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