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The 4th Grade Slump: A Common Hurdle for Elementary Teachers

Mar 6, 2008
The 4th grade slump is a phenomenon that most educators know about in the learning process for elementary school children. Elementary school children have shown a trend of rapid growth in learning how to read from 1st to 3rd grade. They've got good reading fundamentals during the first 3 years of elementary. The sounds and meanings behind words and letters show a good deal of uptake in young readers. However when it comes times for them to put reading into critical though, some children fall behind given some of the common teaching techniques that are used today.

The Slump: Causes and Cures

The learning curve for reading between third and fourth grade reading is a substantial one. All of what was learned from first grade (sounding out letters and words) to 3rd grade (actually creating a reading flow) reaches the stage where children are to start learning about understanding what they read as they read informational material.

A lot of schools actually see an increase in reading skills through the 3rd grade, but the study material during the 4th changes. Instead of learning to read about spot, and about how spot runs, they need to use the reading comprehension to understand the solar system, or the life cycle of an alligator in the Florida Everglades. This poses a different challenge. Not only are children developing the function of learning while reading -- known as reading comprehension -- but they are also packing in all the new vocabulary that they have to know for such topics.

The current federal government's No Child Left Behind employs an educational technology approach with their Reading First initiative. They approach the problem as a social issue and provide a teaching approach that tackles vocabulary learning. They have a battery of tests available for teachers to use as well as online references for children to expand the range of words for them to learn.

Education technology does not deal with hardware or mechanized tools to make our lives easier; it's a learning platform of teaching developed by social scientists and educators together.

Some learning organizations have constructed their own education technology software to supplement educators' teachings. Computer software is useful since it can offer interactive reading and teaching simultaneously. Anchored instruction, as it's called, voices over tips and background on the subject and topics being read. Many confusing word structures can also be taught with the voice over. Idioms, for example, can be explained during a read aloud section of an instruction.
About the Author
Art Gib is a writer for Scholastic (http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/readabout/) who has been in the book publishing and education business for over 50 years. They've developed ReadAbout, an educational technology based software that helps elementary children learn while reading.
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