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.


If something is too frustrating, I think we all give up on it, unless we are hoping to get something out of it because it was something we enjoyed or we are really interested in it, than we might just keep at it a little longer because there is a sense of reward gained from it. I would never discourage a student from reading a level higher than they are if that text had some significance to the child. I often invite students to read graphic novels that are higher than where they are in a regular leveled text because the graphics offer visual clues and is a form of scaffolding, and quite often I find these students use the graphic novel as a stepping stone to other novels...building their confidence as readers and improving their vocabulary so they can eventually tackle higher level text minus the pictures.

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.

Post a Comment
(Please sign in to leave a comment. Privacy Policy)
RSS Subscribe ButtonSign up to get these great teaching ideas delivered automatically.Subscribe now >