Pathways to Freedom: Maryland and the Underground Railroad
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Teacher Reading Tips

In an attempt to improve reading instruction, reading researchers since the 1980's have studied the differences between skilled and unskilled readers. One of the most striking and consistent findings is that there are significant differences in their ability or inability to employ strategies relevant to a particular reading task. The differences are so significant that it can be said with a high degree of confidence that unskilled readers use few if any strategies, while skilled readers not only use a variety of strategies but use them in effective combinations.

Another striking finding from strategy research is that some students acquire and use strategies intuitively in the absence of instruction, while others do not. Related to this finding is the sobering conclusion that we cannot assume that unskilled readers will automatically acquire strategies as they get older and move through the grades. However, a very positive finding is that low strategy users who receive direct and sufficient instruction in strategies begin to employ them, and demonstrate positive and measurable gains in reading comprehension.

The following pages will take you through some ideas, techniques, and considerations you can use to help both skilled and unskilled readers. These thoughts will help you use the activities on this site to the fullest with students of all ability levels.

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