3 Ways to Teach Great Readers to Be Even Better

As teachers, we can't help but focus on those children that need to improve in their reading skills. There is lots of talk and resources in the area of fluency lately. Building fluency is the key to developing a student's reading skills as well as the key to learning new things.

But what about those readers that already read fluently?  Of course we don't worry as much about those students as much because they already read well.  This is especially true in the 2nd and 3rd grade levels where students are really taking off in their reading.  But as all good teachers know, ALL students need our attention regardless of the level they are at.

Through years of teaching reading, I've found that there are 3 key elements in the further development of great readers.  It's not that we don't do these strategies with students just learning how to read, it just might look a little different as students grow in their reading ability.

1. Questioning

Asking questions is what teachers do all day. Effective teachers ask the right questions.  Questions that probe the minds of these great readers further.  When I was doing a running record with a student last week who was reading beyond grade level I asked him the variety of questions provided to me on the assessment.  When I got to the question "What do you think might have been in the cave?", he gave me a two word answer "A bear."  Now, had I left it at that, he would still be at his current level of reading but I wanted to see more of what he was capable of.  (He is a chronic "do just as much as the teacher requests and no more" kind of kid.)  I stopped, smiled, and leaned back in my chair to relax a bit.  Then I asked, "Anything else?"  Immediately he began to describe different kinds of precious stones that could be mined and perhaps some chemicals formed from a person burning something to keep warm and a few other things. WOW!  What a difference! We then talked about how that could be a good spring board to writing a new story.  He really seemed more inspired but the best part was that HE sat up a little taller and smiled. He seemed more confident and validated.

I'm sure most of us learned about Bloom's Taxonomy in teacher training.  Most curricula are developed with knowledge, skills and attitudes in mind.  However, I would venture to say that teachers spend more time on the knowledge domain than any other due to the sheer volume of curricula that needs covering and the high stakes testing that is so apparent in States all across America. Many of us are quite good at asking questions that demonstrate and nudge students towards those higher level thinking skills but we may not extend that thinking to go beyond knowledge as much as we need to. Good readers need this!

2. Reading for a Purpose and/or for Interest

As you can see, with the added question and body language I used to probe that student to stretch his thinking, I was not only teaching him to apply his knowledge but the conversation also extended into the Affective domain.  He was willing to receive the new question but he also was willing to respond in a new way. Not only that, he demonstrated a valuing of the question and the reading when he was able to add his own take on the question and contribute knowledge he already had. When students are interested in the topic of their readings or the genre, they will be more inclined to want to read more.

3. Extending the Reading

Bloom never did finish his work in the psychomotor domain but Simpson (1972) did and so did Dave (1975).

The interesting thing is that I can see that with project based learning and #geniushour becoming more and more popular, educators are beginning to access and value this domain even more and kids can only benefit more.

Our job as teachers is to teach students new WAYS of learning.  If we introduce a concept and have our students read more about it, they can then begin to manipulate their readings and knowledge by PERFORMING, CONDUCTING an experiment, MANIPULATING facts and applying them in new ways and so on.  If we change our thinking to be the facilitator of learning, our students can work at their own levels and we can guide them into different levels by the experiences we provide, the questions we ask and the value we identify in their own learning journeys.

The psychomotor domain can be very complicated and I am the first to say I don't understand it all.  Even at my basic understanding of this level I can see that our great readers would benefit immensely from extending their reading skills and knowledge by applying it to project based learning and  genius hour projects.

Here is a link I found to describe this domain more.

This is not to say you cannot conduct a reading group with these students but that once they reach a certain level, they require more of a boost or nudge to get them to think beyond the book and perform tasks that are more meaningful to keep their pattern of learning growing.

While I know that this blog post is a little meatier than some on reading, do you think this way of thinking about teaching higher level readers is valid?  Do you think you could make it work in your classroom?  Or maybe you already do?  I'd love to hear about how you teach your upper level readers in your classroom.


  1. Thank you for this post. As I Title I teacher I work primarily with students that struggle but this year I got to hold a reading group with very high first graders. I want to be a stronger teacher for them. I appreciate this post and all the information that you give.
    Curious Firsties

    1. Thank you Em! This is the perfect post for you with what your job entails before and this year - great! Thanks for visiting.

      :) Shelley


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