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Building Better Bridges: Teaching Adolescents Who Are Poor Readers in Eighth Grade to Comprehend History Text


Helping struggling readers to learn history content in middle school can be difficult due to heavy reading demands. In this study, researchers taught poor readers with and without disabilities in eighth grade to generate main idea statements; create, compare, and contrast paragraphs; and identify cause and effect relations, along with relevant multisyllabic word study and vocabulary, as they read history text. The 34 participating students included 14 with disabilities and 20 without disabilities, who scored below the 5th percentile in reading, on average. The results were compared across special education and English learner status and with 81 typical readers from the same classes who studied the same units of history. Treated students made significant gains in use of these strategies, and poor readers with and without disabilities performed similar to their typical reader classmates in two of the three strategies following instruction. The instructional routines for each strategy are described.

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