3. Use the results to identify strengths and differentiate instruction to meet those strengths as possible, within the parameters of your existing literacy mandates (Carbo, 2007).
∙ Consider, “How may I adjust the sound, lighting, temperature, and room design to meet students’ needs?”
∙ Consider, “Is the student motivated, does he/she complete tasks/assigned work, and does he/she need much direction?”
∙ Consider, “How does the student work best - with a group, alone, in pairs, with an adult, etc…?”
∙ Consider, “Would availability of food or drink, altering the timing of reading, and/or incorporating movement impact reading?”
4. Reflect on the effectiveness of the differentiation and modify or continue enhanced instruction.
Decades of research show the importance of employing learning styles for optimal learning. Amidst a multitude of governmental mandates and new standards for learning, scripted programs, testing, test practice, and an incessant fear of failure seem to have permeated many schools and classrooms. Predictably, the desire to read for pleasure tends to decline with each passing year of school (Dillon, 2005). One study found that near 40% of teenagers reported reading for pleasure only one to two times per year. Those who do not read regularly do not enjoy the related benefits of reading volume and its consequential augmentation of the background knowledge of students (Whitten, Labby, & Sullivan, 2016).
However, using reading styles affords a straightforward technique teachers may incorporate to help alleviate the problem of learning to read and students choosing to read. This study showed that incorporating reading styles with traditional reading methods enhanced student performance and attitude. Differentiating based on reading styles definitely helps provide the environmental conditions in which a person is most likely to succeed in reading/literacy. The more students experience success and enjoy reading, the more they tend to be successful in the future. Having students succeed in learning to read, and subsequently choose to read is the goal of all teachers of reading. Use of reading styles is one important tool educators may engage to glean this lofty goal, even in a time unprecedented with governmental mandates and “rigorous” standards.
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Dr. Sargent is a professor of reading at Northeastern State University (NSU) in Oklahoma, and Director of the University Reading Clinic. Prior to this position, he taught elementary school in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Drs. Smith and Moreland also are professors at NSU and have previously taught in the public schools of Oklahoma.