Becoming a Good Reader

By Nancy Weigel, Lower School Reading Specialist

The 35th Annual Fall Conference of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association was held at the Woodlynde School on Friday, October 4, 2013. Dr. Reid Lyon, a noted educator, researcher and policy consultant was the keynote speaker and shared part of his journey in trying to determine exactly what kids need to know to be able to read.  The short, succinct answer is “a heck of a lot!”

In his research, Dr. Lyon identified 3 potential stumbling blocks to becoming a good reader. These stumbling blocks are:

  1. Difficulty learning to read words accurately and fluently.
  2. Insufficient vocabulary, general knowledge and reasoning skills to support comprehension of written language.
  3. Absence of or loss of initial motivation to read.

Therefore reading comprehension depends on how well words on the page are read; how much knowledge the reader has and how well they are able to think; how motivated the reader is to do the “work” of comprehension.

One of the most invigorating aspects of listening to this keynote speaker was not new information that was presented, but rather the way it was organized. Dr. Lyon presented a visual representation of the interactions of 4 cognitive and linguistic factors that are essential to proficient reading.  The chart that follows depicts a clear and succinct way to think about how these essential reading factors; fluency, language, knowledge and metacognition.

About Westtown School

Westtown School is a Pre-K through 12th grade Quaker, coed, college preparatory day and boarding school in West Chester, PA.
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