"Read Those Lyrics" : A Listening Center for the Struggling Reader

We all have had those students that seem to just tug at our hearts...and make us bang our brains for answers.  The ones where we just have to try and try over and over again to find something that will just work....because nothing seems to stick.  These are the students we are thinking about at the grocery store as we do our weekly food shopping.  The ones that pop into our head as we are out to dinner and calculating the money for a tip...because we think to ourselves, "will my student be able to do this one day??" 

Yes, teaching students with special needs is a job that really tugs at your heart.  However, our job is to do our best, find students' strengths...and use those strengths to tap into their weaknesses.  We cannot let our emotions get in the way of doing our job; which is to make these children overcome their adversities, and become confident, independent thinkers.

This year, I have been faced with quite the challenge.  Two of my 6th grade students are reading significantly below grade level.  They are decoding at approximately a second grade level.  Which, as you can imagine, makes for some pretty unhappy campers when it comes time to read.

Many teachers who work in Special Education understand what I am talking about.  These are the students with learning disabilities, whether it be dyslexia, or some other type of processing disorder, have spent years "just not getting it".  These poor kiddos have a low self-esteem, and are just plain ol' sick of "trying" to read.  Not to mention, who wants to read "the boy went to the store" when these guys are already thinking about topics way above this type of reading level?  Of course you can use hi-low books, (books with a high level of interest for older students, but written with a lower reading level in mind), but as helpful as those books have been, my students are just not all that interested.

So, I decided to take a new approach by combining two concepts. A) My inspirational "Quote of the Week" has really been a successful addition to my classroom this year.  You can read more about it here.  B) The two students struggling the most love music and dancing.  They will wiggle and groove (yep...I did just say groove) to just about anything!

And so, voila!  "Read Those Lyrics" center was born.  I uploaded current pop music to my song playlist, and printed out the lyrics.  The songs I chose were very specific...those that had an inspirational or empowering message.  The thought behind this center is so that my students, who both have dyslexia, in combination with other learning disabilities, will be able to listen to these songs, while following along with the lyrics.  That way, the students are able to begin directly associating the words to their favorite songs.  At the beginning of each week, I will choose a selection of words to pre-test the students.  At the end of each week, I will assess their progress in both identifying and writing these chosen words.

Take a peek at one of the songs I have chosen:

Roar - Katy Perry

Although I do not have any pictures to make this post pretty, I will do a more visually appealing follow-up post about the process.  What are some ways you engage your struggling upper elementary readers?  I'd love to hear your comments.

Take Care,
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  1. Thanks! My students LOVED this activity so far. =] Score for the teacher...


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