2002 Conference Proceedings

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Every Student Reads in the Divergent Classroom

Bob Keller
Don Johnston Inc.
26799 West Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
fax 847-740-7326

How do you meet a wide range of needs, adapt your curriculum and help students pass reading standards when you work with students at diverse reading levels? This presentation explores effective interventions to use at every reading level that help students of all ages overcome reading struggles and create reading successes.

At varying levels. emergent, early and fluent readers struggle due to insufficient background knowledge, limited language and vocabulary, lack of reading opportunities and a limited exposure to literacy. Technology breaks through these barriers to learning because it provides the critical support that students need as they tackle reading material. Attendees will learn about several intervention solutions that provide these supports for emergent, early and fluent readers.

Every student who is not yet an Early Reader is an emergent reader (Montgomery, 2001). From birth, students are exposed to literacy, words, letters, print and books. Students from low-print homes have little exposure to literacy. Students from print rich homes are surrounded by literacy objects and events (Catts & Kamhi). Students with disabilities often lack the repeated readings and opportunities to interact with print. Emergent readers draw information from pictures, symbols, letters, sounds, and words (Musselwhite & Kind-DeBaun). The best software for emergent readers has speech that highlights the words as it is read, and pictures or animations that illustrate the words and concepts presented. UkanDu Little Books is one example of this type of software to be reviewed.

By the end of second grade, early readers can read some sight words, use the alphabetic principle and read predictable, decodable text. Early readers find and read environmental print aloud. They can usually decode one and two syllable words (Montgomery). Students continue to build knowledge, vocabulary and concepts. We will examine Start-to-Finish Books that are written specifically for early readers who are older. Teachers can use authoring tools like BuildAbility to present rich literacy experiences to all the students.

Fluent readers comprehend written text with prior knowledge. They read to learn. Fluent readers decode unfamiliar words using structural analysis (Montgomery). Students are typically fluent readers by the end of fifth grade. The struggling student needs additional opportunities to build background knowledge. And the need support in decoding unfamiliar words. We will explore Start-to-Finish Books for students building fluency skills and Write:OutLoud, a talking word processor, for reading text from the internet.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will
1. learn how to match the various software interventions presented with their students' reading levels.
2. learn how to modify these interventions to meet individual students' learning needs.


Adams, M. (1998). Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Catts, H. W. & Kamhi, A. G. (1999). Language and Reading Disabilities. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Lewis, R. B., & Doorlag, D. H. (1999). Teaching Special Students in General Education Classrooms. Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Maria, K (1990). Reading Comprehension Instruction: Issues and Strategies.Parkton, MD: York Press.

Montgomery, J. K. "Beyond Who, What and Where: Expository Text as the Link to School Success." 10th Symposium on Literacy and Disabilities, Februaru, 2001.

Musselwhite, C., & King-DeBaun, P. (1997) Emergent Literacy Success: Merging Technology and Whole Language. Southeast Augmentative Communication Publications/Creative Communicating.

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