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Imagine that a fourth grader comes home from school raving about a math game he got to play on an iPad at school. He asks his mom if he can continue playing the game at home. The mom finds the free game online, and it seems legit, so she agrees. A little extra math practice can’t hurt, right? But when she goes to check on her son a short while later, it’s clear he’s not using the game to improve his math skills at all. He’s solving problems like 2+2. He likes this “math game” because he has figured out how to make it 1% math practice and 99% just a game. (He has also weaseled his way into extra screen time.)

At Read Naturally, we value educating teachers as much as we value educating students. In order for struggling readers to become fluent readers, teachers must learn the best ways to support these students. We believe all teachers should have access to this information, which is why we offer a variety of teacher training resources free of charge.

My first grader came to the last section of his “Halloween word problems” math worksheet yesterday and let out a giant groan. The instruction was, “Now write a Halloween word problem of your own.” It was challenging enough for him to read and then solve the problems. Now he had to write one, too? “But writing takes forever!” he complained.

After working with a boy named Mathias for a couple of weeks, Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot had a hunch that she had placed him in the wrong level. How could she be sure? And what could she do to correct her mistake? The answer was to check his initial placement. Then, after Candyce found the appropriate level and goal for Mathias, she came up with a creative solution to ensure his needs were being met.

Your struggling readers have likely asked themselves, or you, “Why is reading hard for me?” Sometimes, there is not a clear reason. With a little extra help, many struggling readers are simply able to crack the code and catch up. Other times, there is a clear reason: For millions of students, it’s dyslexia. Unfortunately, many individuals with dyslexia remain undiagnosed and have a more difficult time catching up to their peers.

A recent audio documentary and corresponding article from American Public Media highlight a serious problem in our country: According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than 60 percent of American fourth-graders are not proficient readers, and that statistic has held since testing began in the 1990s. The documentary is called Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?, and we encourage you to check it out.

With roughly a month of school under your belt, you’re likely aware now of which students qualify for a reading intervention. You may soon find yourself with a group of students who are brand new to Read Naturally. This is an important moment. Communicating your expectations clearly will set the stage for success.

Have you heard of the fourth-grade slump in reading? Research shows that many students experience a decline in their reading ability around grade four, and this decline is linked to the size of their vocabulary.

Investing the time to train your students well in the Read Naturally Live program will yield incredible benefits later. When the steps of the program are easy and automatic for students, they can devote all their mental energy to the important task of reading. That’s why we created A Student’s Guide to Read Naturally Live—a free training resource we hope all Read Naturally Live teachers and aides will take advantage of. This resource makes Read Naturally Live training easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable than ever before.

Back to School! That phrase seems to imply we’re all settling back into something, doesn’t it? But as all educators know, there’s nothing settled about this time of year. It’s a frenzied, fast-paced new start. We’re all ready to go and to grow—forward and onward, not backward.

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

pointer Submit a Star-of-the-Month entry

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