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Old 09-01-2011, 07:26 AM
 
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I was wondering if any elementary teachers would be willing to share their insight about helping middle elementary-schoolers smoothly transition from learning to read to reading to learn. What can a parent do to prevent the dreaded fourth-grade slump?
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
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What fourth grade slump? Never heard of it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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The fourth-grade slump is characterized by a stagnation or decrease in reading comprehension commencing in the middle elementary grades as children make the transition from simple narrative reading to more complex expository reading.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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I've taught 1st-4th for 20 something years.

I've found that the non-fiction genre in a topic that is of interest to your child can help with that transition. Then you can have discussions with your child to support comprehension of the material read.

It's exciting to see parents interested in supporting reading comprehension! Good for you.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:50 AM
 
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I've recently subscribed to Kids Discover magazine, which my son seems to enjoy, but if given his choice, he'd read a graphic novel like most other boys his age. One book that he will sit and read for hours is the annual National Geographic Almanac. Any other suggestions?

I'm a great Newbery lover, but most of the selections are still above my son's independent reading ability. I'm continuing our family tradition of reading aloud every night, but I plan to introduce more non-fiction selections. Bongo, what do you think of reading aloud at home? Worth the time at this level?

I'm concerned because my oldest child had very high reading comprehension scores at this age (and still does), but my youngest is borderline proficient. If he falls off the curve, he's in trouble, so supporting him during this transitional year is my highest priority.

Last edited by formercalifornian; 09-01-2011 at 10:12 AM..
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:56 AM
 
Location: So Ca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
what do you think of reading aloud at home? Worth the time at this level?
I volunteered as a literacy tutor with high school kids and one thing lower readers all seem to have in common (besides lack of reading material) is that they were never encouraged to read what THEY liked as younger children.

When our son was in second grade, we moved and he entered a new school mid-year. He'd been reading aloud only one night a week to us. His new teacher (combo 2/3 class) told us that we should keep reading aloud to him but that he must read aloud from a book of his choice, at least five times a week, preferably for 20-30 minutes....no easy task for a second grader. That school encouraged kids through fourth grade to read aloud, as well as fifth graders who were lower readers. Not every parent can follow through on this but I couldn't believe the improvement in his skills within months. And his interest in reading for fun soared.

His younger sister didn't have any struggles with reading. Both kids had the same fifth grade teacher, who told us that after 35 years of teaching and raising his own kids, he wished parents knew that because of testosterone, most boys have much more trouble sitting still and being quiet, a requirement of reading....and that parents and teachers had to work harder with them because of that.
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formercalifornian View Post
I've recently subscribed to Kids Discover magazine, which my son seems to enjoy, but if given his choice, he'd read a graphic novel like most other boys his age. One book that he will sit and read for hours is the annual National Geographic Almanac. Any other suggestions?

I'm a great Newbery lover, but most of the selections are still above my son's independent reading ability. I'm continuing our family tradition of reading aloud every night, but I plan to introduce more non-fiction selections. Bongo, what do you think of reading aloud at home? Worth the time at this level?

I'm concerned because my oldest child had very high reading comprehension scores at this age (and still does), but my youngest is borderline proficient. If he falls off the curve, he's in trouble, so supporting him during this transitional year is my highest priority.
I think reading aloud to kids should continue until they want you to stop. Believe it or not, teenagers in high school often like teachers who read aloud to the class especially if the teacher is a good reader and dramatic about it.
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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I may have spoken too soon about my oldest's reading comprehension scores. I reviewed her state standardized tests this morning and found that her reading scores were exactly the same in third and fourth grade, so it would appear that she did, in fact, fall prey to the slump before taking off in fifth grade. That said, she was more advanced than her brother, so she was well-positioned for the transition. If my youngest stagnates, he will not achieve proficiency, which I'd like to prevent. He needs to make progress, because maintaining the status quo isn't going to cut the mustard, particularly since we live in a very high-performing and demanding district.

As an aside, it might appear that I am a test-crazy parent, but I really don't believe standardized tests are the be all and end all of measuring a child's academic achievement. However, my experience in working with my son indicates that reading comprehension is indeed a struggle for him, so I am very appreciative of guidance from those of you who have experience helping middle graders overcome the fourth grade slump.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:31 PM
 
Location: PNW
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The key here, as already stated, is comprehension. It's great to encourage him by having him read material he likes, but just because he likes it doesn't mean he'll understand it.

Does he struggle with decoding words? If that is an area of concern, you can help him visually memorize common words by using straight drill with flash cards.

There are lots of reasons why a child might struggle with comprehension, but vocabulary usually plays a big role, and there are lots of methods out there to increase vocabulary.

As an activity, find a book in his area of interest. Go through it with him to find any vocabulary he doesn't know, then help him define the words or guess at the meaning based on contextual clues. Help him develop self-regulatory behaviors by posting a list of questions where he reads. For example, "Who are the characters? What are they doing? Do I understand what's going on? What can I do to understand better (e.g. ask for help, re-read, look up a word, etc.), What do I think will happen next?" and so on.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:54 PM
 
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Decoding does not appear to be a problem, nor does vocabulary. One of the two reading MAP tests from third grade indicates low average ability to "apply thinking skills to reading." All other evaluation categories are high average. His state standardized test from spring placed him in the lowest quartile for proficiency in reading, which appeared accurate based on my experience assisting him with his homework.

The first MAP test of fourth grade took place this morning, and I have requested that his teacher call me to discuss the results as soon as possible, rather than waiting until fall conferences.
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