Limitations placed on the cognitively impaired learner

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The topic of reading comprehension is not new to the world of education; it has been researched and studied for several years. Over the years reading comprehension has changed from just being about text in a book to a whole world of text, print, and media that can also be embedded within technology. "Today, the definition of literacy has expanded from traditional notions of reading and writing to include the ability to learn, comprehend, and interact with technology in a meaningful way" (Selfe cited in Pianfetti, 2001). Reading comprehension includes three elements: "the reader who is doing the comprehending, the text that is to be comprehended, and the activity in which comprehension is embedded" (Pianfetti, 2001). All of these elements occur within the socio-cultural context of the student's classroom, home, and neighborhood, and they help the reader to interpret information and create personal meaning (Pianfetti 2001).

Reading comprehension is important to the field of special education for several reasons. It provides the basis for students learning in all subject areas, without good reading comprehension students struggle through school. Reading comprehension is also needed later in life to understand job directions, further education, and to be functional in everyday living. Reading comprehension is ongoing; teachers are always teaching students strategies to help improve their reading comprehension. Many students can read the words but struggle when it comes to tests, essays, projects, etc. because they lack the comprehension of what they have read. The research for this project will be guided by the following topic, questions, and subtopics:

Research Topic:

Reading comprehension as it relates to the cognitively impaired learner.

According to the research, do reading skills of students with cognitive impairments improve with peer interaction/ peer collaboration?

According to the research, are there any limitations of expectations placed on the cognitively impaired learner?

Research sub-topics:

peer interaction

peer collaboration

reading comprehension

limitations placed on the cognitively impaired learner

expectations of the cognitively impaired learner

reading skills

literature circles

reading groups

peer tutoring

Chapter Two

Researchers have discovered that reading comprehension is a very complex and in depth area of study as it relates to education. There are varying studies and projects that have looked at how reading comprehension can best be taught and how it relates to the students learning. Students with cognitive impairments struggle in many areas, reading comprehension being one of those. Teaching a student to read is much different that teaching a student reading comprehension. Research has shown that it is more difficult to teach reading comprehension, especially to students with cognitive impairments or a learning disability.

The literature on reading comprehension is categorized by the strategies and interventions that help to teach it to the students. There is research that supports the use of these strategies and interventions with different groups of students. The literature that relates to the questions for research on reading comprehension is split into two different areas of study. One being peer collaboration/interaction and how that relates to a students learning of reading comprehension. The other is the research that is about the limitations that are placed on certain groups of students and how that can impact their learning of reading comprehension.

One of the most important components of teaching reading comprehension is the amount and use of peer collaboration or peer interaction. The majority of the research includes the use of some type of peer or group work. Research has shown that when using peers to help teach students, both students will benefit from the experience. The student that is teaching the other one gains a sense of pride and accomplishment and the student that is being taught gains confidence as a reader. It has been proven that students can actually learn more from their peers than from the teacher at certain times during particular areas of study. Research proves that a program called Classwide Peer Tutoring works for all students, "including students who have problems paying attention, problems learning, and problems with emotions and behavior". Classwide Peer Tutoring is very helpful for students who are "at risk" and for students whose parents and teachers worry will start to have problems in school (DuPaul, G.J., 1998).

The research on reading comprehension has changed over time and there are many components that go into a good reading program in a classroom. According to the research done by Fielding and Pearson in 1994:

Reading comprehension instruction has evolved from teaching decoding of texts to teaching inferential and evaluative thinking. A well-rounded reading instruction program should provide ample time for actual reading, teacher-directed instruction in comprehension techniques, collaborative learning and student-teacher sharing of reading responses. To make the most out of reading time, teachers should include personal choice, multiple readings, optimal difficulty and sharing in reading activities. Programs should use multiple approaches to ensure a holistic program (Fielding and Pearson, 1994).

According to Fielding and Pearson, [teachers] are becoming more and more aware of the social aspects of instruction and their influence on cognitive outcomes. "In addition to equity and the sense of community fostered through peer and collaborative learning, students gain access to one another's thinking processes" (Fielding and Pearson, 1994). Research has proven the positive outcomes for both students and teachers when peer and collaborative learning has taken place in the classroom.

A synthesis of this research suggests that cooperative learning is most effective when students clearly understand the teacher's goals, when goals are group-oriented and the criterion of success is satisfactory learning by each group member, when students are expected and taught to explain things to one another instead of just providing answers, and when group activities supplement rather than supplant teacher-directed instruction (Fielding and Pearson, 1994).

There are many benefits for both the students and the teacher when peer collaboration/interaction is part of the reading comprehension curriculum. "At its best, cooperative learning has positive social and cognitive benefits for students of all abilities" (Fielding and Pearson, 1994).

Children that are part of special education programs have the right to an education that is tailored to best meet their individual needs. When teachers are forming goals and objectives for a student's individualized education plan (IEP), they need to consider what is best for the student and their particular style of learning. Often, students with disabilities are judged as lacking peer interaction skills (Gresham, 1992; Mellard & Hazel, 1992). Yet these skills are needed for success in the work place (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1992) and desired for quality of life (U.S. Department of Education, 1994). Peer interaction goals frequently are a part of the Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) of students with disabilities. Hallenbeck and Kauffman (1995) have argued that teachers must provide "explicit social instruction" (p. 64) for students with disabilities to improve in social competence (Gelzheiser, L., Mclane, M., Meyers, J., Pruzek, R., 1998). According to this research teachers need to provide peer collaboration/interaction in the classroom for the well being of their students throughout their school years and for their future.

There are many expectations of a special education teacher and now there are research and documents that outline the standards and requirements that are expected in the field of special education. Teachers that take on the special challenge of teaching students with disabilities need to keep an open mind to the limitless potential of students rather than limiting their potential with an unconscious bias. Teachers that believe in their students often have the most success when working with them, thus improving their reading comprehension and learning in all areas.

According to the research there can be many limitations that are placed on a student without the teacher even realizing it, especially those students who are in the special education system. Many students who are referred for special education services are labeled "at-risk" students (Miller, 1991). "At-risk" students are defined as those who fit one of the following criteria: 1) students who are unlikely to complete high school; 2) students who are unlikely to leave school with an adequate level of basic skills; 3) students who have failed one or more grades; 4) students who have been found eligible for special or compensatory education programs (Miller, 1991). Teachers who have unconsciously placed limitations on special education students can be hindering the student from learning to their greatest potential (Acker, 2006; McIntyre & Pernell, 1985; Tobias, Cole, Zibrin, & Bodlakova, 1982).

When a teacher places limitations on a student whether it is done consciously or unconsciously it can have some serious implications for the students learning and ability to learn in the classroom. If a teacher gets to know a student and already thinks in their mind this student is never going to be able to read, then in turn the student will continue to be a poor reader. Teachers must always have the highest expectations for their students and project that in their teaching, no matter what disabilities or abilities a student portrays.

Many times teachers place certain limitations on a student biased on their own personal beliefs about how the disability affects the student. Although there is a significant research base on effective teaching practices for students with severe disabilities (Browder, 2001; Snell & Brown, 2000; Westling & Fox, 2000), there has been surprisingly little effort to define the specific knowledge base that beginning teachers must have to serve this group of students effectively (Hardman, McDonnell, & Welch, 1998; Ryndak & Kennedy, 2000). The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has developed lists of knowledge and skill standards that it believes are critical for teachers who work with students identified as having severe disabilities (CEC, 2001). The Council for Exceptional Children lists ten different standards for teachers who are being trained to work with students with mental retardation or developmental disabilities. "These standards are: foundations, development and characteristics of learners, individual learning differences, instructional strategies, learning environments/social interactions, language, instructional planning, assessment, professional and ethical practice, and collaboration" (CEC, 2001).

Each of the ten standards includes specific knowledge and skills that The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) notes as essential for teachers working with this group of students. Standard number two, instructional strategies, states:

Special educators possess a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to individualize instruction for individuals with exceptional learning needs. Special educators select, adapt, and use these instructional strategies to promote positive learning results in general and special curricula and to appropriately modify learning environments for individuals with exceptional learning needs. They enhance the learning of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills of individuals with exceptional learning needs, and increase their self awareness, self- management, self-control, self-reliance, and self-esteem. Moreover, special educators emphasize the development, maintenance, and generalization of knowledge and skills across environments, settings, and the lifespan (CEC, 2001).

In that same document put out by The Council for Exceptional Children in 2001, standard number nine, professional and ethical practice, states:

Special educators know and demonstrate respect for their students first as unique human beings. Special educators understand the similarities and differences in human development and the characteristics between and among individuals with and without exceptional learning needs. Moreover, special educators understand how exceptional conditions can interact with the domains of human development and they use this knowledge to respond to the varying abilities and behaviors of individual's with individual with exceptional learning needs (ELN). Special educators understand how the experiences of individuals with exceptional learning needs can impact families, as well as the individual's ability to learn, interact socially, and live as fulfilled contributing members of the community (CEC, 2001).

There are ethical and moral standards for a teacher to uphold when they take on the special task of teaching students with special needs. The Council for Exceptional Children put out the document "Definition of a well-prepared special education teacher" to help prepare teachers for the challenge of teaching students with special needs. There are many things that might be impacting the learning and comprehension of a student with special needs but a teachers limitations should not be one of them. If a teacher is considering teaching students with special needs they should seek out these documents and make sure they are ready to uphold all of the standards that are now required to help educate students of the future.

Chapter Three

Reading is an essential part of the learning process. When students are good readers they can explore so many different types of literature in mathematics, science, social studies, and beyond. What happens to so many students who are struggling readers? They fall behind in all areas of learning because in every subject and in every classroom in America if a student cannot read or struggles to read they are going to have difficulty understanding just about everything. There is so much research out there that provides different strategies and interventions for struggling readers. The problem is how does the teacher decide what is good for the students in the classroom.

According to the National Reading Panel (2000), "students typically develop their reading skills in the early elementary grades using narrative texts". When students enter the upper elementary grades, they need to develop ways to understand informational (expository) text. Making this transition can be difficult for some students, particularly those who have not fully developed their reading skills. The NRP (2000) identified five areas of reading in which research has been conducted to allow for some instructional recommendations for teachers. According to Armbruster and Osborn (2001) these areas of reading include:

Phonemic Awareness:

Phonemic awareness is the ability to think about and notice the individual sounds in spoken words; for example, the word "cat" is made up of the sounds /c/ /a/ /t/. Phonemic awareness involves understanding that spoken words are made up of individual speech sounds.


Phonics is the understanding of the relationship between spoke sounds and written letters. To be able to read words, children must understand this relationship.


Fluency is the ability to read a text effortlessly and with expression. Fluency consists of accurate reading, at a reasonable rate and with appropriate expression.


Vocabulary refers to word knowledge. Children must know and understand many words to be able to comprehend what they hear and read. Greater vocabulary knowledge leads to increased comprehension.


Comprehension is making meaning from text. The goal of all reading is understanding what is read.

Students need to be taught strategies and interventions in order to become better learners in the five areas mentioned above. There are many strategies that are available for teachers to use with students in the classroom; the following is a chart from adapted from the work of Beal, Keene, and Tovani:

Make Connections

What connections do I make as I read?

Good readers notice pieces of text that relate to or remind them of: Their lives, past experiences, and prior knowledge, other books, articles, movies, songs, or pieces of writing, events, people, or issues.


Good readers create pictures in their minds while they read. While reading, note places where you get a clear picture in your mind that helps you understand the text.

Ask Questions

Good readers ask questions before, during, and after reading to better understand the author and the meaning of the text. Ask questions of the author, yourself, and the text:

What is the author trying to say?

What is the message of this piece?

Do I know something about this topic?

What do I think I will learn from this text?

How could this be explained to someone else?

What predictions do I have about this reading?


How do I read between the lines?

When the answers are "right there," good readers draw conclusions based on background knowledge and clues in the text.

Find information from the text that might be clues to the answers and use these with your background knowledge for possible answers.

Determine Importance

What's the big idea? So what?

Good readers look for things that help them identify big ideas and why they are important.

Look at text features for clues:

Titles and headings

Bold print

Pictures and captions

Graphs and charts

Chapter objectives and questions


How do I use what I've read to create my own ideas?

Good readers combine new information from their reading with existing knowledge in order to form new ideas or interpretations.

Synthesis is creating a single understanding from a variety of sources.

Strategies and interventions have been developed for each of these six areas to help students to improve their reading comprehension. Included in the research are how these interventions and strategies have helped to improve reading comprehension in the classroom. There is a ton of research that provides the positives and the negatives of different strategies that can help students to improve their reading comprehension. The key components of each strategy that seem to be beneficial for students are communicating with others and interacting with peers to help foster and create meaning and understanding.

According to the research done by Brooks (2004), "Although one particular strategy may be well suited for one reader, it may not work for another" (Brooks, 2004). Teachers need to assess the strengths of their students, and build on their weaknesses (Wade, 1990). Strategies should be introduced one to two at a time gradually increasing in number for students that are new to strategy instruction (Brownell, 2000). Teachers teaching the strategies should incorporate their strategy instruction into their ongoing teaching (Brownell, 2000). One approach linked to teaching reading comprehension effectively is to teach students to use comprehension strategies to help them actively make meaning out of the texts they read. Research has established that teaching students to use these strategies helps them better understand the text they read. "Two recent reviews of the literature, the NRP report and a review of intervention research for students with reading disabilities (Gersten 2001), indicate that, in general, interventions that teach flexible use of multiple strategies to improve comprehension produce large improvements in reading comprehension" (The RAND Reading Study Group, 2000).

The strategy of Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) is one of those that involves interacting with others to help students to improve their comprehension. The framework of CORI emphasizes five phases of reading instruction in a content domain: "observing and personalizing, searching and retrieving, comprehending and integrating, communicating to others, and interacting with peers to construct meaning" (Bennett, Guthrie, and McGough). The researchers believe that "being an active reader is important to children as students and to students as individuals emerging into the adult community". "Reading widely and frequently yields new understanding about the world around us; it brings us new experiences through literature; and it helps us to effect the accomplishment of practical tasks". These benefits of reading are useful for both children and adults (Guthrie & Greaney, 1991; Mikulecky, 1991; Stanovich & Cunningham, 1993).

Another study investigated the causes of reading comprehension failure, by looking at the reading level (or reading age) of the student and the match between that and the students' actual age, they called it the 'comprehension-age match design'. "Children's failure to understand written text can arise at different stages in the processing of language" (Cain, Oakhill, Bryant, 2000). There can be several reasons why a student fails to understand written text, children with impoverished vocabulary and those who experience difficulties in word reading can fail to understand sentences and longer pieces of text (Cain, Oakhill, Bryant, 2000). It can also be that the student has poorer inferential skills that have caused their poorer comprehension. "Using the ability-match comparison involves a control group that is matched to the less skilled comprehenders on the variable which this group has lagged behind, which is reading comprehension age" (Cain, Oakhill, Bryant, 2000). The results of this study concluded that less skilled comprehenders are found to be poorer on a task than children of comparable comprehension skill; it is the skill of interest as a candidate that causes good comprehension (Cain, Oakhill, Bryant, 2000).

In order for a strategy to work in the classroom there are three key components that need to be in place. "The three principles of reading comprehension instruction are making the instruction explicit, modeling, and scaffolding" (Raphael, 2004).

First, it is imperative that comprehension instruction is explicit. Second, the strategies must be modeled by skillful readers including teachers and peers. Last, the teacher must scaffold the strategies until the students are able to use the strategies successfully while independently reading (Raphael, 2004).

"Direct, or explicit, instruction of comprehension strategies involves modeling how the comprehension strategy or skill is used, guiding practice with feedback from a teacher, and providing opportunities for students to independently practice using the strategy or skill on various reading materials" (Rosenshine and Stevens, 1986). Research has proven the benefits of using a direct instruction approach to teaching and a strategy instruction approach for students with special needs. Lee Swanson at the University of California, Riverside, has conducted several detailed tests to determine exactly which underlying instructional principles help students with [disabilities] learn best. Together with Maureen Hoskyn, Swanson has found that, "in fact, academic performance-particularly in the areas of reading comprehension, vocabulary, and creativity-improved significantly whether students were taught using either strategy instruction or direct instruction". Perhaps more interesting, however, was the finding that outcomes were greatest for instructional approaches that combined aspects of each method (Swanson,2001; Swanson & Hoskyn, 2001).

Research has also proven the benefits of peer collaboration/interaction in the classroom. Teachers can use a combination of direct instruction and strategy instruction, and then have students work together in small groups using one or two strategies for reading comprehension at a time. Peer collaboration has been proven to be beneficial for students after a lesson with the direct instruction approach and when they are taught one or two specific strategies at a time. According to Swanson, some examples of the ways to teach by using direct instruction and the strategy instruction approach are:

Explicit Practice-encompasses many activities related to review:

repeated practice

weekly reviews

daily feedback

Strategy Cues-includes:

think aloud models

verbalizing steps or procedures during a lesson

reminders to use specific strategies or steps


explanations about concepts

repetition of information or text

additional information provided by the teacher

The second key component is that reading be modeled by a successful reader like a peer or the teacher in the classroom. One way to model good reading skills is to have "book clubs" or "literature circles" set up in the classroom. This strategy has been researched and utilized in classrooms. The topic of using literature circles in the classroom as it pertains to reading comprehension is becoming increasingly popular and there is tons of research out there; that supports the use of literature circles. Using literature circles in the special education classroom is becoming more important in helping students who struggle to read or who can barely read at all. How well do students with cognitive impairments increase their reading comprehension skills by peer interactions and peer collaboration?

"Literature circles promote classroom climates which are cooperative, responsible, and enjoyable because students are given the responsibility for working with each other to make decisions in accordance with their needs and interests" (Burns, 1998). "In addition, as students learn to work cooperatively with each other, to be responsible for their own learning, and to respect multiple perspectives on topics and issues, they also learn to be better listeners and more honest with peers" (Burns, 1998). Students are also given the chance to learn from one another during "literature circles". There is research that says that students can sometimes learn better when taught or guided by a peer versus a teacher. Students also love the chance to be able to help and teach one another, they get a sense of pride and ownership when they can help someone else learn something that they know. Struggling readers don't always get the chance to be knowledgeable about something in the classroom, during "literature circles" they can become the expert on something and pass what they know onto another student. The main goal and focus of "literature circles" is to get students interested in reading so that they will want to read and in turn become better readers with the use of multiple strategies, teacher instruction, and guidance.

Research shows that "book clubs" or "literature circles" are reader response centered, part of a balanced literacy curriculum, structured for student independence, responsibility, and ownership, intended to be fluid and flexible, and seen as a context to apply reading and writing skills (Noe and Johnson, 1999). The "clubs" or "circles" can look different from class to class. The form taken by literature circles varies according to the students' needs, their abilities, and the characteristics of individual classrooms. However, "All literature circles share the following three basic elements: diversity, self-choice, and student initiative" (Daniels, 2002).

The key element to making "literature circles" work in the classroom are the discussions that surround the book that help the students to be able to dig deeper into the book and come up with themes and a purpose of the book. There are several different formats as to how discussions can take place in the classroom. Schlick Noe and Johnson (1999) provide the following chart to help teachers to decide what format works best for their classroom:


Teacher Role



One group meets at a time;

other students work on reading,

journal writing, extension projects  



Opportunity to teach

strategies for conversation

and response

May be an easier format

for beginning literature circles 

Students tend to talk

to teacher, not each other  

Students not in discussion

need to be able to

work independently

One group meets at a time

Group member


Opportunity to model

conversation and response

Manageable for beginning

literature circles

Students tend to talk

to teacher, not each other  

Students not in discussion

need to be able to

work independently

One group meets at a time  




Opportunity to observe

students' growth in discussion

and response

Teacher's observation 

needs to be unobtrusive

so that conversation is

not stifled  

Students not in discussion

need to be able to

work independently

Two or more groups meet at a time  

Observer and guide


Opportunity to observe

students' growth in discussion

and response

Greater input for

discussion debriefing

Higher noise levels  

Possibility for chaos, 

unproductive behavior

Less opportunity for

in-depth assessment

The teachers role in "literature circles" can vary from a facilitator, to a group member, to a removed observer, to a observer, or a guide. The question then becomes, how does the teacher get the students started and keep them engaged in a discussion about the book? Schlick Noe and Johnson (1999) provide some simple ideas to get the student started: "prompts, questions, post-it notes, bookmarks, Golden lines, interesting words, and discussion logs are all important tools to help students prepare for a discussion about their book".

After discussion has taken place students need time to debrief about what is going well in their groups and what needs to be improved. This is an important element to making the "literature circle" groups work well together and helping the group to run smoothly. According to Schlick Noe and Johnson, "Debriefing offers an excellent way to help students become conscious of what works and what doesn't in a discussion".  You can achieve this best when students understand specifics. The teacher can guide the students with some questions regarding their discussion. Then they can begin to understand in which direction their discussion was headed and what to discuss during future sessions. Through this debriefing, students demonstrated that they know what goes into an effective discussion, and they're working on the how (Schlick Noe and Johnson, 1999).

When the students are done reading a book there are many extension activities that can be done to enhance learning. Literature circles offer students the opportunity to extend and develop interpretation through artistic forms of response.  Ending a literature circle unit with an extension project provides readers additional ways to revisit what they've read, continue the conversations (and the discoveries), and create even more meaning. A good extension project will keep the thinking and response alive even after students have finished a book. "The goal is to lure students back into the book to cement, enhance, and even reinvent what they gained from their first visit" (Schlick Noe and Johnson, 1999). Students may chose to read another book surrounding the same theme, genre, or context. The main goal and focus of "literature circles" is to get students interested in reading so that they will want to read and in turn become better readers with the use of multiple strategies, teacher instruction, and guidance.

The third key component is to scaffold instruction in reading comprehension for students until they are able to use the strategies on their own. "Scaffolding is an instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students" (Clay and Cazden, 1992). According to Clay and Cazden (1992) there are two scaffolding strategies in teaching reading:

In the first strategy, when a teacher suspects the child does not have the ideas or words needed for a particular text, he/she may explain some part of the story or contrast a feature presented with something he/she knows the child understands from another reading. In the second strategy, the teacher uses what is correct in the student's response but probes or cues the student, so as to suggest good possibilities for active consideration.

According to Perkins and Solomon (1989), another scaffolding strategy is for the teacher to model the appropriate thinking or working skills in the classroom. "Recognizing what you do know in a problem, as well as what you don't yet understand, are aspects of metacognition in problem solving that are similar to a scaffolding approach" (Perkins and Solomon 1989). "When faced with an unfamiliar problem, the student may construct a similar but simpler problem. "In this way, the expert learner manages his or her own gradual self-regulation and enables him/herself to grow to meet the new task successfully" (Perkins and Solomon, 1989).

According to the research done by Kelly and Campbell (2000), listening comprehension was also identified by the educators as an essential skill to be taught. The research suggested that teachers intentionally teach listening. Teachers can serve as role models by showing students how to figure out unknown words, monitor comprehension, and use self-questioning. The Success For All (SFA) program asserts that listening comprehension is vital. In the SFA model, the teaching of listening comprehension includes: "presentation of the objective by the teacher, relating the objective to previous learning, reading the story aloud with rich expression, modeling self-questioning, discussing the selection, connecting it to other literature or content areas, and extension or enrichment activities". (Kelly and Campbell, 2000).

There are many strategies and interventions that have been researched and proven to help improve reading comprehension skills for students with special needs. Identifying the strategy and putting it into practice in the classroom can be challenging, but helping a student learn in their own unique way can be rewarding. Teachers need to try multiple strategies until they find the ones that are the right fit for their students. Helping a student to understand something better can make a huge difference in their lives.

Chapter Four

Looking back at this research project I can now say that I have learned a lot more than I thought I would about reading comprehension and the cognitively impaired learner. There are so many strategies out there that research has proven to help improve reading comprehension with this population and there is also some research on the strategies that were not effective for them. Finding some of the research was harder than I thought, the topic of "reading comprehension" is a very broad topic and it covers so many areas. I really had to use my questions and subtopics to find sources that would benefit my paper.

The biggest challenge I found when writing this paper was the literature review, there is so much out there about reading comprehension and I had to really use a fine tooth comb to go through the research and find the important parts. The easiest part of this paper was the strategies and interventions, there are so many out there to help students with reading comprehension. I find it easier to write about the things that I will actually put into place in my classroom. I am a big fan of using literature circles or book clubs in the classroom. I worked with one of my students in my current classroom for my practicum and collected samples of his work during our literature circle time. I really feel that when students are working with one another, the peer interaction helps them to learn.

Overall there are many strategies and interventions that are available for teachers to try and use in their classroom. Not all of the strategies are going to work for each teacher, it all depends on the type of classroom and the types of learners that are in the classroom. Figuring out what works in your particular classroom can be one of toughest parts of trying to teach reading comprehension. Once you have taught and established some reading comprehension strategies to use in the classroom, students will be able to learn from each other and from the teacher to help improve their reading comprehension. Using the research that is out there along with the wide variety of strategies and interventions there will always be at least one method that works for each student.

Now that I have done this research and found many other types of strategies to help improve reading comprehension besides literature circles I will be able to implement some of them in my classroom this year. I have a wide range of ability levels in my classroom and I know that just using one or two strategies is not going to be what is best for each of my students. I am looking forward to the upcoming school year so I can design my lessons and set up my classroom to better suit my students. I really want what is best for my students and I want to be able to give them the best guidance and teaching for their future. I am glad that I had the chance to complete this research paper so it can help me to become a better teacher for my students.


Acker, I. S. (2006). Teacher efficacy and the referral of African American

males to special education: Is it rational behavior? Unpublished

doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America.

Armbruster, B.B., and J. Osborn. (2001). Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

Beal, Reene, and Tovani. Reading Comprehension Strategies. Available at:

Brooks, Michelle; Hamann, Louise and Vetter, Mary. (1997). Improving Reading

Comprehension and Vocabulary Development in At-Risk Students.

Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University.

Brownell, Mary T. (2000) Dr. Michael Pressley. Intervention in School and

Clinic. pages 105-107.

Cain, K., Oakhill, J. V. & Bryant, P. E. (2000) Investigating the causes of reading

comprehension failure: The comprehension-age match design. Reading

and Writing. 12, 31-40.

Council For Exceptional Children. (2001). Definition of a well-prepared special

education teacher.

Clay and Cazden. (1992). Scaffolding. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Daniels, Harvey. Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups. (2001)

DuPaul, G.J. (1998). Helping children at home and school: Handouts from your school psychologist. National Association of School

Psychologists, Bethesda: MD.

Fielding, L. and Pearson, P. (1994). Reading comprehension: what works.

Educational Leadership Feb 1994 v51 n5 p62(6).

Gelzheiser, L., Mclane, M., Meyers, J., Pruzek, R. (1998). IEP-Specified Peer Interaction Needs: Accurate but Ignored. Exceptional Children, Vol. 65

Gersten, R., L. Fuchs, J. Williams, and S. Baker. (2001). Teaching Reading Comprehension Strategies to Students with Learning Disabilities. Review of Educational Research, vol. 71, pp. 279-320.

Guthrie, J. T., & Greaney, V. (1991). Literacy acts. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research (Vol. 2, pp. 68-96). White Plains, NY: Longman.

Guthrie, J., Bennett L., McGough, K. Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction: An Integrated Curriculum to Develop Motivations and Strategies for Reading.

Hammon and Hess. (2004). Actively Engaging Middle School Readers: One Teacher's Story. Middle School Journal, 35,3, 5-12.

Harmin, M. (1994). Inspiring active learning: A handbook for teachers.

Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Holt, J. & Bell, B.H. (2000). Good books, good talk, good readers. Primary Voices K-6, 9, 1, 3-8.

Mikulecky, L. (1987). The status of literacy in our society. Research in literacy: Merging perspectives, Thirty-sixth Yearbook of the National Reading Conference (pp. 211-237). Chicago: National Reading Conference.

McIntyre, L.D., & Pernell, E. (1985). The impact of race on teacher

recommendations for special education placement. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 13(3), 112-120.

Miller, P. S. (1991). Increasing teacher efficacy with at-risk students: The sine qua non of school restructuring. Equity & Excellence, 25(1), 30-35.

Palincsar, A. S., A. L. Brown, and S. M. Martin. (1987). Peer Interaction in Reading Comprehension Instruction. Educational Psychologist 22: 231- 253.

Perkins D N, Salomon G. (1989). Are cognitive skills context bound? Educational Researcher 18 (1): 16-25

Pianfetti, E.S. (2001). Teachers and technology: Digital literacy through professional development. Language Arts, 78, 255-262.

RAND Reading Study Group. (2002). Reading for understanding: Towards an R&D program in reading comprehension. Retrieved February 8, 2002,

Raphael, T.E. & McMahon, S.I. (1994). Book club: An alternative framework for reading instruction. Reading Teacher, 48, 2, 102- 116.

Rosenshine, B., and R. Stevens. (1986). "Teaching Functions." In Handbook of Research on Teaching. New York: Macmillan, pp. 376- 391.

Schlick Noe, Katherine L. and Johnson, Nancy J. (1999). Getting Started with Literature Circles.

Scott, J.E. (1994). Literature circles in the middle school classroom: Developing reading, responding, and responsibility. Middle School Journal, 26, 2, 37-41.

Stanovich, K. E., & Cunningham, A. E. (1993). Where does knowledge come from? Specific associations between print exposure and information acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 211-230

Success For All Foundation, Inc. (2000). Success for all: a proven school wide program for the elementary grades. Available at:

Swanson, H. L. (2001). Searching for the best model for instructing students with learning disabilities. Focus on Exceptional Children,34, 1-15.

Swanson, H. L., & Hoskyn, M. (2001). Instructing adolescents with

learning disabilities: A component and composite analysis. Learning

Disabilities Research & Practice, 16(2), 109-119.

Tobias, S., Cole, C., Zibrin, M., & Bodlakova, V. (1982). Teacher-student ethnicity and recommendations for special education referrals. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(1), 72-76.

Wade, S. (1990). Using Think Alouds to Assess Comprehension. The Reading

Teacher. pages 442-451.