How to Teach 4th Grade Reading

Fourth grade teachers have to find ways to keep students interested in reading independently.

Fourth grade is an important transition year for students in reading. In grades K-2, they learn all the phonics skills necessary for the technical part of reading. Third and fourth grade instruction focuses mainly on the comprehension skills and strategies necessary for becoming a good reader throughout school and beyond. Teachers are responsible for helping their students become proficient using these skills in all kinds of texts so they can apply them when reading independently.

Teach reading skills through direct instruction. For example, when introducing, predicting or summarizing, model the skill yourself while reading aloud the the class. Then pair students and have them read to each other and practice the skill. They can demonstrate mastery by making charts and posters that explain the steps in the proper use of each strategy. You may have to do this several times with each strategy until the class is comfortable with the process.

Focus on fluency. Fluency is the ability to read words correctly, with expression and at a rate of speed the facilitates comprehension. The best way to practice fluency is to have students read passages for one to three minutes. They can read to you individually or chorally as a class. Choose books or stories that are leveled to the ability of the student. A typical classroom will have advanced, average and struggling students.

Read aloud to the class frequently. Students need to hear fluent reading, and you are the best example for them during the day. Read short stories or newspaper articles that may interest them. Remember to use good fluency habits so they will mimic you when they read.

Require children to read independently, and allow them to have input about their choice of reading material. If students have not already cultivated a love for reading, they may be hard to convince once they get to the 4th grade. Encourage them to read during free time in the day. Give them a wide range of choices like comic books, magazines or other material that interests them.

Give grades that encompass several aspects of reading ability. Do not pass or fail a child simply on the basis of reading tests. Record a grade for fluency and oral reading. You may also want to give credit for books read at home or use of vocabulary words learned in the classroom.

  • Stay aware of what your students are reading. Although you want to allow them some flexibility in choosing material, be sure that it is appropriate and within the boundaries of good taste and decency.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.