As a parent or guardian, what might I do to help my child be more successful in reading?
First, and foremost, encourage your child to read whenever possible. The moreyour child reads, the more practice he/she will have in using the strategiesshe/he has been working on in school. With practice, readers become moreautomatic in using the right strategy at the right time when they run into aproblem, and with minimal interruption to the flow of their reading. Thisflow is called fluency. Keep in mind the difficulty of the books your childchooses. To practice using strategies and to work on fluency, students needto be reading books that are not too easy, and definitely not too hard. Inschool, your student is learning how to choose “just right books” and youmight want to consider reinforcing this strategy when your child chooses booksto read at home. Ask your child to read out loud and if he/she seems to bemaking several reading errors on any given page, this would indicate that abook is really too difficult for any real learning to occur.If your child seems reluctant to read independently, take opportunities toshare reading. Parents often think that once their child has learned to readindependently that they should step back from reading to or with their child. This is not true and actually, reading aloud to children right on up throughelementary school is a wonderful way to keep children excited about books andreading. What many parents don’t realize is that when you read books to yourchildren that are slightly more difficult than what they are able to read ontheir own, you are teaching them valuable skills in developing new vocabulary,recognizing different styles of text, how to read with expression and fluency,and providing the support they need to understand harder text. All this willhelp your child make an easier transition as she/he moves into increasinglyharder text on his/her own.To get your child motivated to read, think about the things she/he likes to door is interested in and try to provide reading material that reaches thoseinterests. Don’t forget to consider age appropriate magazines, comic books,and the Internet as a way to find reading material that matches your child’sinterests. When students are reading text that interests them, they are moreengaged and are less likely to consider reading a chore.Make reading a priority and however you can, foster a “reading richenvironment”. This means, not only providing books and other materials toread, but also giving your child plenty of opportunity to talk about theirreading. In school, students are learning that “reading is thinking” sogetting your child to share their thoughts and/or questions about what theyare reading is a wonderful tool for developing reading comprehension, orunderstanding. You may discover that your child is much more insightful thatyou ever thought possible!Finally, children observe adult behavior as a model for their own. Wheneverpossible, simply let your child “catch” you enjoying a good read!Back to Top
What does RTI mean and how does it fit into reading support for students?
This is the process through which students who are demonstrating somedifficulty in meeting grade level expectations, either behaviorally or withinthe curriculum, are brought as a way to assure they are getting their needsmet to increase their level of skill, performance, and success in school. When a reading difficulty becomes evident,the first part of the process beginsin the classroom. As the school year begins, teachers are getting to knowtheir students and are makingobservations about the strategies and skills their students are demonstratingin reading. In addition, teachers want documentation of what each of theirstudents are able to do in terms of reading engagement, reading fluency, worddecoding/analysis, and comprehension. At Spofford Pond this documentation ismade through the administration of the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA)by students' classroom teachers or other support staff, to see that studentsare able to make benchmark (what would be considered grade level at that pointin time) levels in reading. A benchmark assessment of studentswill now be administered three times a year, in the fall, in January, and inthe spring. Based on the data from the DRA, observations from the classroomteacher, and - for grades 4-6 - data from the previous spring’s MCAS results,teachers are able to identify students that may be at risk in reading. Whenthis is the case, the classroom teacher will then present what she/he isseeing with specific students to a team of teachers in a brainstorming sessionto develop strategies and ideas to differentiate reading support andinstruction to meet the needs of these students. These teams meet once a weekand are referred to as teacher-assisting-teacher teams or (TAT). Following aTAT session, teachers implement these ideas or strategies and then meet withthe team again for a follow up within a set period of time. If a student hasshown continued progress at a rate that demonstrates a track for reachinggrade level expectations within a reasonable amount of time, new strategies orgoals may be set and implemented by the classroom teacher and the team. If astudent has not demonstrated reasonable progress, the student would then bereferred for an RTI meeting. In this case, the classroom teacher meets withthe principal and/or curriculum support specialists to look at documented(assessments and assignments) and anecdotal records of a student’s performancein reading. Based on this data, students may be found eligible for additionalreading support outside of the instruction and support from the classroomteacher. Typically these would be the students that I, as the readingspecialist, would service. Once a student is determined to need reading support beyond regular classroominstruction, specific areas of difficulty are identified and a plan isdeveloped to address interventions that will accelerate the student’s progresstowards meeting grade level expectations. As much as possible, thisinstruction takes place, in a small group or individually, within thestudent’s regular ELA (English Language Arts) block and is inclusionary(within the classroom). Again, a set period of time is determined to put aplan into action and at the end of that period, an RTI evaluation meeting isheld to determine if new assessment data indicates this more intensiveintervention with the reading specialist has been successful in moving thestudent along a track of reaching grade level. If this is the case, then newgoals may be set and services continued. If it has been determined that astudent has reached grade level expectations and the classroom teacher isseeing a difference in the level of performance in classroom assignments, astudent may be discontinued from support services but monitored to be surethat continued progress is being made within the framework of classroominstruction. While parents are often concerned about this “drop” of services,the decision is not made lightly and is taken with the best interest of thestudent at heart. The process is ideal when we are able to allow students tomove back into a regular model of instruction, allowing students toparticipate with their peers in focus lessons and guided reading groups asthey occur and make the transition from reading guidance to independentutilization of skills and strategies. If a student receives too much supportbeyond what is necessary, there is a tendency to become too reliant upon theinstructor to monitor reading behaviors and over time they are actually at adetriment in terms of continued acceleration because of missed lessons,classroom discussions, and new instruction.If, during an RTI evaluation meeting, it is determined that a student is notmaking sufficient progress in reading with intervention the student may thenbe referred to be presented at a Child Study Team (CST) meeting. Thisreferral is made when further information into a student’s learning style andability would be beneficial. The team is comprised of the classroom teacher,the director of student services, the principal and/or curriculum supportpersonnel, and special educators. In this meeting it may be recommended thatthe student be tested and evaluated with parent or guardian permission andbased on the results of those actions it may be determined that the studentwould be best served by a much more individualized plan of instruction throughour special education program. At this time a meeting is planned with membersof the CST and parents or guardians to present the results of the evaluationand to develop a student individualized plan of instruction. Once parents orguardians have agreed to such a plan, services at this level of the RTIprocess may begin. Back to Top
What is Reading "Fluency" and why is it important?
Fluency is the ability to read text rapidly with automatic recognition ofwords and, when read orally, the ability to use appropriate pitch, stress, andphrasing. Fluency allows for effortless reading of words and puts the focuson meaning. When a reader is able to quickly and accurately recognize words asa whole unit or use the context of text to quickly decode unknown words “onthe run” that reader is considered to have automaticity, an important part ofreading fluency. With automaticity, the reader is able to focus on decoding(word work) and comprehension (meaning) simultaneously and studies have shownthat this skill may significantly improve understanding. When a reader has tostop to sound out words sound, by sound, meaning is disrupted andcomprehension may be impaired. It is critical that children with readingdifficulties have lots of practice reading at their independent reading levelto practice the skills needed to become automatic or fluent in reading. Ithas been found that the average child needs between 4 – 14 exposures to a newword to recognize it automatically. Children with reading difficulties, onthe other hand, need 40 or more exposures to a new word before it becomes partof their known sight vocabulary. Likewise, readers need practice in beingable to learn to connect with text in a way that further helps them tounderstand what they are reading. Readers that are able to quickly pick up ontext phrasing and add the appropriate stress and expression to what they readare showing that they are internalizing the intended meaning of what theyread. When this happens, they are more apt to recognize reading miscues andbe able to correct these errors quickly, without really having to stop. Thisfluency seems to benefit readers in their ability to recall the necessarydetails for better comprehension. Richard Allington, an important educator inthe field of reading, suggests several reasons that may impact a child’sinability to read with fluency: • Lack of exposure to books and reading, little exposure to modeling of fluency.• Less positive feedback for their reading as opposed to good readers, withinstruction focused on the sound and word level rather than meaning.• Lack of practice time reading – good readers spend more time reading.• Frustration – poor readers tend to more frequently encounter text that istoo difficult rather than being able to read text that is at their independentlevel and therefore they often just give up.• Miss the “why” of reading – poor readers often do not understand thatreading is really about making meaning from text, not about word calling.I would add that often there are weaknesses in the way readers are able toprocess visual information that may directly effect the efficiency they havein decoding with automaticity, making fluency a very difficult skill tomaster. However, practice with strategies that develop reading fluency wouldstill be very beneficial in helping a reader to improve her/his reading skillsand I would highly recommend that parents provide opportunities for theirchild to do so. Below are several suggestions for providing such practice.• Allow for lots of reading practice in independent level text (text that iseasily read).• Have many opportunities to reread known text, repeated reading gives thenecessary exposure to increase sight vocabulary, increase rate of reading, anddevelop expression and phrasing.• Provide opportunities to hear text read to them to get the necessarymodeling of what fluent reading sounds like. Listening to audio books is goodfor this too.• Have many opportunities to read aloud with proficient readers at the sametime (choral reading), to practice appropriate rate, and phrasing• Provide opportunities to read poetry as the phrasing, pattern and rhythm ofpoems is a great way to practice fluency skills.• At word errors, rather than have the reader sound out the word as theirfirst strategy, prompt to use meaning by saying “what would make sense thatlooks like that” – if they still have trouble see if they are able torecognize known chunks in the word to make decoding easier.• For readers who often lose their place, have them sweep their finger or theend of a pencil under or above the text to keep place.• Make a game out of reading to increase speed. Choose a passage and have thereader time him/herself after each reading and chart their progress over time. As passages become too easy move on to increasingly more difficult text.• Use flash cards to build sight word vocabulary.Back to Top
What are some good reading websites?
www.stonesoup.com - Read stories and poems written by childrenwww.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Children's_Book_Award - lists the 2009-2010 award winners www.ala.org/ala/awardsgrants/index.cfm - Note: after going to website click Notable Children's Books under the Book, Print & Media Awardsheading. annotated list of the American Library Association book awards www. bookwink.com - video booktalks for kids grades 3-8www.kidsreads.com - get suggestions for good books, information on authors, book reviewswww.mckennasmousepad.com - language arts, and spelling activities and gameswww.timeforkids.com - sponsored by Time magazine, introduces kids to current events andprovides resources for building reading skillswww.ipl.org/div/kidspace/storyhour/ - Note: go to left hand index and click on internet library Reading Zone www.ala.org/greatsites activities in all curricular areasBack to Top