Reading at Frustration Levels

By Laura Robb on June 16, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

With the Common Core’s charge that by the end of a school year, students should be able to read grade-level, complex texts, many students will be asked to “read” at their frustration levels.  For English language learners, students with learning disabilities, and those developing readers who are three or more years below grade level, this is an unreasonable expectation.  In fact, asking students to read and reread many times material they can’t comprehend means they don’t learn from the material and their feelings of self-confidence and self-efficacy can diminish greatly.  We teachers need to work with our school administrators to obtain permission to help readers who struggle by teaching them where they are and moving them forward.  Please let me know your feelings about this teaching dilemma.


To take a quote from the book Never Work Harder than Your Students, I find that I often have to "build a bridge." I might not be able to fill in all the gaps, but I can provide scaffolds and supports that allow students to master the concepts and skills required. A reasonable use of data analysis also ensures that I am able to diffentiate for students who do need more backfilling of information. By reasonable, I mean that I analyze student work in addition to looking at percentages of proficiency. Most importantly, I tell students that it might be hard at first, but it won't be hard forever. I always tell them, "I know you can do this!" When they get it down, I practically sing with joy. They know that I they have hit the mark when they see me so authentically elated. So, my feelings are...embrace the struggle and celebrate victory! I teach 6th grade Language Arts.

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