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ABE Reading Instruction: Beyond Comprehension Strategies

Hi Group!

I am teaching a 10 week ABE reading course to prepare students for entrance into CTE programs that have specific TABE achievement scores. I am not a certified reading specialist, per se, but rather self taught over the years of Level 0 and 1 ELA instruction and more recently ABE.  There is a lot I know about the components of sound reading instruction, but am struggling with time and resources (as a part time instructor) to best focus my time and efforts on implementing interventions that will have the quickest impact.  I desire a community of practice to work through this with.

My teaching context (perhaps many of you are in similar situations):

Evening classes of 5 to 10 multi-national students, not all of whom have come up through ELA instruction. Many require a TABE D GLE 9 score to enter Health Sciences courses but who are making slow progress around the M or D GLE 5 - 7 level. (We meet for 3 hours, 2 times a week). We use TABE focused readers, workbooks, and test practice book/materials all focused on the D level. I supplement in each lesson with a high interest reading  text from NEWSELA   At my school I have access to shelves and shelves of ELA materials, but I am out of touch with titles and tried and true publications at this point.

Comprehension Strategies - I feel solid on this front, and as a result have created a course that is clearly too heavy in this category. 

In the interest of time, I need to collaborate on cheap, reliable and valid assessment (and the necessary data management ) and instructional strategies for uncovering comprehension barriers related to:

phonemic awareness, fluency, and vocabulary development

Let me start with vocabulary development - am I safe to simply start with daily vocab lessons that target the Tier 2 vocabulary? I found 30+ lessons online here  Is this a safe bet? What issues so you see with jumping in with these lessons?

Fluency - I understand and could, with some work, establish Curriculum Based Materials to assess (long term, but we only have 10 weeks) fluency.  Am I barking up the wrong trww on how to know more about fluency barriers to comprehension?

Phonemic Awareness - Ideas please - it seems such a big thing to tackle and, with such different learners and so little time, I feel overwhelmed with this category and fear wasting time for little information.

Thank you all so much - for the work you do, for any consideration of my request to collaborate, and for simply reading this far.  I hope to hear from you.




Leecy's picture
One hundred
Hi, Ann. I'm so glad that you posted here. We have some wonderful reading specialists in this group. I hope they drop in to add their ideas to mine. I'll just add some little ideas.
Fist, since you are preparing students for entrance into CTE, I would fist strongly encourage you to use workplace materials for reading content. You know that adults engage with content when it appeals to their experiences, goals, and interests. I'm not suggesting that you ditch what you are using, but to connect those resources to CTE. So many instructors, in my opinion, focus on academic outcomes prior to engaging students. I say, go where they are first. Once they get "hooked," gently lead them to where the want to be academically.
As for overcoming barriers to comprehension, vocabulary often plays a big role. The vocabulary you listed is fine, but I would further let students read about interesting topics at their reading levels and then pulling  out words from those passages if they run into glitches. BTW, I'm a huge supporter of  Have students use that site a lot, a lot for vocabulary development if you have connectivity. It's a great site for promoting engagement and practice.
For building fluency, along with all other practices you'll find, consider using neurological-impress strategies, more simply referred to as duet reading, following very specific instructions. Students show incredible progress over short periods of time doing nothing more than that! This link doesn't add one important item: select materials that are just slightly above the student's reading level. If the selection is too hard or to easy, the process has little or no effect. 
When is comes to phonemic awareness, just keep in mind that phonemic awareness precedes phonics. Perhaps others here will add simple assessments that will determine if students have developed that skill of recognizing that language is made up of sounds that go together to make words. Once students recognize that aspect, they are ready for phonics. LINCS has good resources in the Resource Collection, which you may want to explored. For example, "Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles" will give you lost of great ideas.   
If you want to watch tutors apply excellent practices in reinforcing phonemic awareness and phonics, I'm a real fan of the video clips produced by the San Jose Public library.  Be sure to review some of those.
Finally, I'll just add that with students who are really beginning readers, one-to-one practice is recommended. If you teach small groups, there are many ways to engage people in those groups for short periods of time while you work one-to-one with a student. 
Anyway, I hope this gives you some food for thought.
Others here, I know you have great suggestions. Please drop in and share those with Ann. Thanks! Leecy
Leecy's picture
One hundred

Hi, Ann and All. As an added tip for this discussion, please explore the outstanding suggestions and fantastic resources shared in another of our active Reading and Writing threads, Free, Leveled Online Libraries: How are teachers using them with students? . I encourage everyone to dip into that thread as well. So exciting! Leecy

Di Baycich's picture
One hundred

I always recommend Susan McShane's excellent book

 Applying research in reading for adults: First steps for teachers.

Susan Finn Miller's picture
One hundred

Hi Ann, Thanks for posting these great questions. I hope you will give us a status update on how things are going for you with this class.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition & Teaching & Learning CoPs