Designing Meaning-Based Interventions for Struggling Readers

Andrew P. Johnson

HardcoverPaperbacke-bookprint + e-book
March 23, 2021
ISBN 9781462545780
Price: $82.00 $61.50
260 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
March 23, 2021
ISBN 9781462545773
Price: $32.00 $24.00
260 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
January 26, 2021
Price: $32.00 $24.00
260 Pages
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (PDF) ?
Price: $64.00 $35.20
260 Pages

This highly practical book helps K–8 teachers implement effective reading interventions that support meaningful comprehension and engage students with interesting, age-appropriate texts. Andrew P. Johnson presents a range of strategies for addressing difficulties in the core areas of word identification, fluency, and comprehension. Packed with illustrative figures, the book provides guidance and tools for assessing reading problems, combining and adapting interventions for particular students, planning writing activities to enhance reading, aligning efforts within a response-to-intervention framework, and designing individualized education programs. Informed by current research, Johnson candidly targets "educational malpractice” and helps readers puzzle through the controversies surrounding dyslexia diagnoses and special education decision making.

“During my time as a special educator and instructional coach, I longed for a framework that operationalized a meaning-based approach to reading interventions. Johnson lays out the rationale for such an approach and follows it up with a practical process. This book is a 'must read' for every special educator and for any educator who wants a solid resource for designing reading instruction that meets the needs of today's diverse classrooms.”

—Staci Gilpin, MSEd, former teacher and instructional coach; doctoral student in Educational Foundations and Research, University of North Dakota

“Johnson provides a refreshing look at interventions for struggling readers and the need to focus on making meaning from text. He reinforces the idea that a majority of our students know how to read, but lack the skills necessary to make meaning. I appreciate this book's frank discussions of intervention fidelity, direct instruction, and the need to recognize the nuances each of our students bring with them. Johnson shares a concrete process for designing meaning-based interventions that I look forward to bringing to our special education licensure program!”

—Amy Murzyn, EdD, School of Education and Social Work, College of St. Scholastica

“This book masterfully synthesizes the latest literacy acquisition research and provides critical pedagogical practices for targeting each student’s learning needs. It is an essential resource for preservice teachers, classroom teachers, reading interventionists, and special education teachers interested in capitalizing on responsive decision making. Johnson presents interventions that are cleverly designed to support accelerative progress, ensuring all students learn to read.”

—Mary R. Van Etten, MEd, district literacy specialist/Reading Recovery coordinator, Muskogee Public Schools, Oklahoma

“Johnson's presentation of a meaning-based approach in the design of interventions for all struggling readers is well written and convincingly argued. This instructional plan is appropriate for any child experiencing difficulties acquiring reading proficiencies, including those labeled as dyslexics. Johnson's approach shares little with traditional methods for teaching struggling readers—and I hope it will initiate needed changes in remedial and special education. If only every teacher preparing to become a reading specialist or special educator could read this book before they began their student teaching apprenticeship!”

—Richard L. Allington, PhD, College of Education (Emeritus), The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Table of Contents


I. Background Information

1. Instruction and Interventions sample

2. Educational Research and Theoretical Models

3. Understanding the Reading Process

4. Coming to a Common Understanding

II. Elements of a Meaning-Based Intervention for Reading

5. How a Meaning-Based Intervention for Reading Works

6. Language Experience Activities

7. Word Work

8. Sight Words and Scope and Sequence Carts

9. Word Identification Strategies

10. Cloze and Maze Activities: Semantic Cueing

11. Writing for Reading

12. Fluency

13. Comprehension

14. Reading Practice (More, Please)

III. Diagnosing, Assessing, and Monitoring Progress

15. Standardized Tests

16. Diagnosing the Problem

17. Progress Monitoring

IV. Individualized Education Programs

18. Individualized Education Programs for Reading

19. Peer-Reviewed Research

V. Designing Reading Interventions

20. Response-to-Intervention Particulars

21. Scientifically Based Research

22. When the Gold Standard Is Un-Golden: A Review of Torgesen et al. (2009)

23. Evaluating Research

24. Students with Dyslexia

VI. Issues in Special Education

25. Problems in the Special Education World




About the Author

Andrew P. Johnson, PhD, is Professor of Literacy Instruction and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He specializes in literacy instruction for students with intellectual and learning disabilities, response to intervention for reading and writing, strategies for the inclusive classroom, and advanced pedagogy. Prior to his university career, he taught in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms for 9 years. Dr. Johnson is the author of numerous academic articles, book chapters, and books related to literacy and learning, and hosts a podcast, The Reading Instruction Show.


K–8 classroom teachers; special educators; reading/literacy specialists and coaches.

Course Use

May serve as a text in undergraduate- and graduate-level courses.