It is widely understood that, on average, students lose academic skills during summer break. For many typical students, this can be a setback, for students with reading challenges, it can be devastating. Reading does not develop naturally and, according to research conducted by Judith Birsh “is highly dependent on language development and quality instruction” (2005). Without quality instruction over the summer months, many students will fall behind.

In 2018, the Northwest Evaluation Association conducted a study to determine how significant the summer slide is for students in grades 3-8. The results were sobering, with third grade students losing nearly 20% of their reading gains they had made during the school year. As students got older, this regression became even more alarming with the average student losing 36% of reading skills they had gained in 7th grade over the summer months (NWEA, 2018). 

While these numbers are alarming, they are not inevitable. Individualized, systematic, Structured Literacy based tutoring can help ensure that your child does not lose close to 40% of what they learned during the school year. If your child struggles with reading, this is even more important as underlying phonological deficits as well as working memory issues make learning and retaining skills even more difficult.  However, using scientifically based reading intervention with children has been found to make “significant and durable changes” in their brain’s organizational systems and patterns and in turn, significant reading gains (Birsh, 2005).

When you are exploring your options for summer tutoring for your child, it is crucial that you choose a program that follows the Structured Literacy framework (also known as the Orton-Gillingham approach). In addition, the tutor delivering the instruction should meet the guidelines laid out by the International Dyslexia Association for remediating reading difficulties. The program should also be individualized and customizable for your child. No two children need the exact same instruction which is why many box programs that are scripted cannot and do not work for everyone. Here at RW&C our highly trained and qualified reading clinicians meet IDA guidelines and are able to use their professional knowledge to personalize their instructional approach when needed. In order to prevent summer regression, your child needs personalized instruction. Additionally, the tutoring your child receives needs to be systematic, cumulative, explicit, and sequential in its approach. The program developed by RW&C explicitly teaches phonological awareness, phonics, syllabication, morphology, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension in a systematic and cumulative way until mastery is reached. The online tutoring program also uses diagnostic assessments as well as informal observation to customize each session to the needs of each client.

Other than program and clinician qualifications, it is also important to think about your schedule and lifestyle during the summer months. While instruction is important, so is the ability to have family time and opportunities for fun. Many families find intensive in-person programs to be impossible to navigate while still traveling or engaging in other activities. This is where an online tutoring program can be a perfect fit. Generally, online programs are more flexible and they can be done anywhere. Going on a trip? No problem, as long as you have internet access you can logon and have your child meet their reading clinician for their tutoring session. I have even had families use their phone as a hot spot so we could meet while they were camping. Online tutoring can fit into your busy lifestyle and allow you the flexibility you need to meet your child’s needs and still enjoy activities and trips. 

If you are considering an online program, it is important to critically evaluate all of your options and decide what will work best for your child and budget. In order to be effective, it must be multi-sensory and explicit. If you are evaluating different online programs, check out this useful checklist that can help you make an informed decision on what is right for your child. 

The summer slide is scary, but it is not inevitable. With quality Structured Literacy tutoring, your child will not only retain what they learned during the school year but will also make progress towards mastering new skills. By enrolling them in a tutoring program, you are giving them the gift of reading, which lasts a lifetime. 

For more information on our online tutoring program, contact us today. 


Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com

Becky Welsch is currently an Associate in Training with the Orton-Gillingham Academy of Practitioners and Educators. She has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.

Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online tele-therapy. 

Sources: Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Judith R. Birsh 2005

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/resources/parents/stories-from-parents/taking-time-for-summer-fun/

Images from pexel.com

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a teacher, you may have heard the terms multisensory instruction being used more and more frequently. This is a buzz word that tends to get thrown around a lot without full understanding of what it entails. It is a key component of Structured Literacy™ reading, writing, and spelling instruction. An extensive and growing body of research demonstrates that the Structured Literacy™ approach is effective in reading intervention for students with  reading difficulties (Birsh, 2005). In addition, newer research shows that Structured Literacy™ is a more effective approach than whole language for all students, including those with typical reading abilities (Lorimor-Easley & Reed, 2019).

In the Structured Literacy™ approach, multisensory means that instruction engages the visual, auditory, and tactile centers of the brain, often simultaneously. Students are encouraged to use manipulatives and movement to help reinforce sounds and spelling patterns. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate multisensory instruction into your reading block:

  • Use manipulatives. When you have students doing phonemic awareness activities like segmenting and blending sounds, you can incorporate a tactile experience by using blank tiles. They pull down a tile for each sound in a word and then run their fingers under the tiles to blend the sounds back together. If you don’t have tiles you can have them tap on their arms and blend or use rubber bands to stretch out phonemes as they simultaneously say the sounds out loud.  
  • Use a bumpy surface. An embroidery board is a great option and can be found at most craft stores. Have students use their index and middle finger to trace letters as they say the sound and letter name. Display the letter using index cards or a projector to incorporate the visual system as well. 
  • Use sand trays. Like an embroidery board, a sand tray provides a rough tactile surface. Have students trace letters or words as they say the sounds and letter names. 
  • Use shaving cream. Once or twice a week when your desks need to be cleaned, students can trace words and letters in shaving cream on their desk. This is a fun, messy activity that provides sensory feedback as they trace spelling patterns. 
  • Explicitly teach handwriting and letter formation. There is a growing body of research that suggests handwriting in and of itself can be a multisensory activity. Often students with reading issues as well as writing issues struggle to form letters. This extra load on their processing centers makes writing nearly impossible. By teaching explicit handwriting skills the load on a student’s working memory is decreased and they can focus on the content they need to write, rather than the writing process. 
  • Use paper with raised lines. Some research suggests that having paper with raised lines can help increase sensory feedback and make writing easier for students who struggle. 
  • Take it outside and use chalk. Using sidewalk chalk can be a fun twist on rainbow writing words and can be a great activity for a nice day. With the larger surface of the sidewalk, students can write the words larger which activates different muscle memory than writing them small on paper. Also, the texture of the sidewalk can help give tactile feedback as well. 

When incorporating multisensory literacy activities, it is important to keep in mind that they should be done regularly, not just once in a while as reward or when behavior permits. Once you start incorporating them into your instructional routine, you will find that they are not only fun for students, but also help solidify spelling patterns and improve reading and spelling skills. 

Students who continue to struggle even though they are involved in an excellent academic program may need extra help and expertise when it comes to literacy instruction. Our online program can help them with their reading skills so they can be more successful in your classroom environment. If you have a student who you think is a good candidate for our program, contact us today to learn more. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Resources:

Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Judith Birsch 2005

“Structured Literacy: A New Term to Unify Us,” International Dyslexia Association 

“An Explanation of Structured Literacy, and a Comparison to Balanced Literacy,” Nina Lorimor-Easley and Deborah Reed 2019

Images from pexels.com

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Multisensory, structured language education is the most commonly endorsed and research-based approach for literacy education for students who struggle with reading. It includes methodologies like Orton-Gillingham instruction as well as programs based on those methodologies. Several years ago, the International Dyslexia Associated formally adopted the name “Structured Literacy™™” as an umbrella term to describe all programs that use a structured, systematic, and multisensory approach to reading (International Dyslexia Association). 

While the term Structured Literacy™ may be new, the approach to teaching reading is not. Samuel Orton conducted groundbreaking research in the 1920s on multisensory, systematic instruction and documented its success in teaching students with reading difficulties. An extensive and growing body of research demonstrates that the Structured Literacy™ approach is effective in reading intervention for students with  reading difficulties (Birsh, 2005). In addition, newer research shows that Structured Literacy™ is a more effective approach than whole language for all students, including those with typical reading abilities (Lorimor-Easley & Reed, 2019). 

Although the principles behind Structured Literacy™ and the methodology themselves are not new, it is also not well-known within the general education community. In fact, many schools still use leveled readers with heavy picture clues to teach reading in both whole and small groups. Phonics has become more mainstream yet is often not explicit and systematic. Teachers and educators have the best interest of their students at heart, yet do not always have the professional knowledge and resources to deliver the most effective instruction. 

In order to effectively remediate reading issues and teach reading, it is important to understand what Structured Literacy™ is and how it can be effective. First and foremost, Structured Literacy™ is structured. It is systematic and emphasizes phonological awareness, phonics, decoding and spelling along with morphology, fluency, and comprehension. Phonics follows a logical scope and sequence that explicitly teaches each spelling pattern. 

Using the Structured Literacy™ approach, students are encouraged to use decoding skills and phonics patterns to sound out words, rather than guessing at words based on context or pictures. The logic behind this strategy is two-fold. First and foremost, even in early readers, the pictures are not always a reliable way to figure out a word. For example, if there is a picture of a duck in water with the sentences “The duck swims,” a student could come up with a  variety of words that would make sense based on the pictures. Anything from “The duck splashes” to “The duck eats” could make sense depending on the illustration, but neither are correct. If students are taught proper decoding, they can read the word swim rather than guess at reasonable alternatives. A second reason that using the pictures is ineffective is that eventually the text becomes too complex to be encapsulated in an illustration. As students get older and text complexity increases, those who cannot decode often have few strategies to rely on and their reading level tends to not keep up with that of their peers who are able to use decoding strategies (Birsch, 2005). 

As a reading clinician, I can tell you that the “check the picture” strategy is very rarely effective, even when texts have significant picture clues. I have had students make wild guesses that often do not even start with the same initial sound as the word they are attempting to “read.” For example, in a book I was recently reading with a student, the text said “They sat…” the student read the words “They ate…” which based on the picture, made sense however it was not the correct word and did not even have the same initial sound.

The Structured Literacy™ approach is also multisensory. This is a buzz word that tends to get thrown around a lot without full understanding of what it entails. In the Structured Literacy™ approach, multisensory means that it engages the visual, auditory, and tactile centers of the brain, often simultaneously. Students are encouraged to use manipulatives and movement to help reinforce sounds and spelling patterns. Some programs may use colored tiles or tapping sounds to incorporate movement. In addition, during auditory and visual drills, students are encouraged to trace letters using their index and middle finger while saying the sounds, letter names, and looking at the letter. This engages all three critical areas of the brain while learning and reinforcing letter sounds, names, and formations. 

Another way the Structured Literacy™ methodology incorporates multi-sensory activities is by emphasizing handwriting and correct letter formation during instruction. Often students with reading issues as well as writing issues struggle to form letters. This extra load on their processing centers makes writing nearly impossible. By teaching explicit handwriting skills the load on a student’s working memory is decreased and they can focus on the content they need to write, rather than the writing process. 

The Structured Literacy™ framework is also cumulative, meaning that skills are constantly reviewed and spiraled in so that students have adequate practice time. Once a student learns a skill, that skill is not dropped from explicit instruction until it has been fully mastered. For example, if a student is working on silent e words, once that lesson is over the reading clinician does not move on and stop practicing. The skill is spiraled into reading and spelling so that the student can review and internalize it in multiple forms and at both low and high levels of complexity.

A final key component (for the purposes of this blog at least) is that Structured Literacy™ is delivered by a highly trained professional. Effective Structured Literacy™ instruction requires more than an 8-hour professional development where you look through the curriculum. Our reading clinicians all have credentials that align with International Dyslexia Association standards for working with students with reading difficulties. They attend professional development and engage in reading and discussing current reading research. In short, they are experts in the field of reading intervention. 

If you are looking for a high quality, one-on-one Structured Literacy™ program for a student or your own child, RW&C’s program may be the right fit for you. We offer reading, writing, and spelling remediation services. Our online program is flexible and built to fit your needs. Contact us today for more information.

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Resources:

Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Judith Birsch 2005

“Structured Literacy: A New Term to Unify Us,” International Dyslexia Association 

“An Explanation of Structured Literacy, and a Comparison to Balanced Literacy,” Nina Lorimor-Easley and Deborah Reed 2019

Photos from www.pexels.com

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

As teachers, we can often become so accustomed to hearing certain professional terms that we do not always consider that they are not part of the public vernacular. One example of this I saw when I was a teacher was with DIBELS scores. I would rattle off acronyms like PSF or NWF and assume that parents knew what I was talking about and what the implications were for their child. It has become clear to me that they often did not. So, to save you some time I created a handy reference sheet you can use with research supported data when talking to parents about their child’s DIBELS scores. 

It is important to know that DIBELS can also give parents some major anxiety. While it is not a perfect measure, it can be an accurate predictor of future reading outcomes, but in order to understand possible outcomes, they first must understand what is tested and what each score means. I find it helpful to go over each subtest individually with them. If you need some more information on that, this blog geared towards parents can be a great place to start. 

It is crucial for parents to understand the scoring system. Parents will need to know if their child is Well Below Benchmark, Below Benchmark, At Benchmark, or Above Benchmark. You can give them this information as well as their child’s composite score. 

Once they have the score, it is helpful to break down exactly what each one of these scores means for their child.

  • Above Benchmark: If your child scores Above Benchmark it means your child is performing well above the average for their grade level. Given appropriate core classroom instruction, the chances that they will meet literacy goals is above 90%.
  • At Benchmark: If your child scores At Benchmark they are performing at an average level for their grade. Without intervention and with only effective core classroom instruction, the likelihood that they will reach early literacy goals is 70% to 85%. Students who score at the lower level of At Benchmark are likely to need some strategic intervention to reach reading goals.
  • Below Benchmark: If your child scores Below Benchmark, it is very likely that classroom support will not be enough for them to reach subsequent reading goals. In fact, with only core classroom instruction, the likelihood that students who score Below Benchmark will achieve reading goals is only about 40% to 60%. If your child scores in this area, it may be time to think about an effective reading program for them.
  • Well Below Benchmark: If your child scores Well Below Benchmark goals, it means they are significantly behind grade level norms. Without appropriate intervention, the likelihood that they will make reading progress is only about 10% to 20%. These students need intensive reading intervention.

Once parents understand their child’s scores, they have more information and can find the best way to support their child at home. Providing intervention for struggling students supports your classroom goals and helps ensure that all of your students are successful. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

With the beginning of the school year come excitement, assessments, and paperwork. While you are meeting your new students and their families, you are also planning for how to maximize their success this year. You are thinking about staff meetings, lesson plans, small groups, and countless other issues. 

One important factor to keep in mind is to make sure you are watching your students for potential reading, writing, and spelling issues. As their teacher, you are often their first line of defense against academic issues and their most important advocate. 

This time of year is extremely busy and you are getting to know your students. It is incredibly important to keep your eyes open for potential reading difficulties. The sooner you can spot them, the sooner you can begin to recommend reading intervention that works. 

There are a few telltale signs in a classroom that a student is struggling. They may: 

  • Avoid participation in reading exercise
  • Read the same word differently across a passage
  • Read the beginning of a word correctly but guess at the rest of the word
  • Work 2-3 times longer (harder) to complete an assignment
  • Struggle to remember the content of the reading material because, for that student, the process of reading is so laborious

Most importantly, a student with a reading challenge may show limited growth compared to their peers in reading, spelling, or writing DESPITE participating in an outstanding academic program. 

Chances are, you have a student in your class who fits this profile. They are struggling despite your best teaching and attempts to help them. They need intervention with a Structured Literacy program. Often, this means that they need outside help. 

We all want what is best for our students. If you notice them struggling, do not wait until conferences or after winter break to bring it up to their parents. Let them know as soon as you see issues and discuss the external resources available to help their child. 

Our online program is proven and effective with struggling students. Our trained clinicians deliver one on one tutoring via an online platform. Together, we can help your students succeed. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

As teachers, we work with kids in many different subject areas other than reading. In the case of middle school or high school teachers, we may not even work with our students on reading at all. However, with research showing the nearly two-thirds of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 1 in 5 students having dyslexia, it is up to all of us to be aware of reading difficulties so we can get our students the help they need

If you do not teach reading, there are still telltale signs that a student may struggle with a reading issue. If you teach a content that is reading heavy like science or social studies, you are in a prime position to help identify reading difficulties. Here are a few things to look out for in all content areas that may signal a possible reading or spelling challenge…

  • When you ask students to write an essay or short response, check their spelling on rough drafts. Here are a few common spelling mistakes a student with a reading or spelling deficit might make…
    • Spelling words as they sound (fol instead of fall)
    • Mixing up letter sequences (silp instead of slip)
    • Swapping vowel sounds (hilp instead of help)
    • Using the wrong vowel digraph (broun instead of brown)
    • Using a t instead of the suffix -ed (helpt instead of helped)
    • Misspelling grade level appropriate words
    • Words are correct on spelling test but misspelled when writing connected text
  • When you ask students to read a content related passage you can also take note of any comprehension issues. If they do not understand what they have read, it is an indication they may be struggling with reading. 
  • Notice how long your students take to complete tasks. Often students with reading difficulties take significantly longer than their peers to complete academic tasks. 

Even in math, you can help notice reading and spelling difficulties. Here are a few ways they may present themselves in a math class…

  • Trouble remembering basic math facts, especially times tables
  • Difficulty remember strings or sequences of numbers including phone numbers
  • Difficulty knowing left from right
  • Trouble remembering and following sequential directions
  • Reversing numbers (writing or reading 37 as 73)
  • Writing numbers backwards beyond when it is developmentally appropriate 

If you are a content area teacher and you notice these signs in one or more of your students, it is important that you help them get the Structured Literacy intervention they need to be successful. Not only will it improve their reading, but it may also improve their performance in your class. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Tagged with: , , , , , ,

The beginning of the year comes with many challenges for teachers. Perhaps one of the most important considerations for language arts and self-contained teachers is how to structure their reading block. Research has shown that systematic, explicit, and purposeful reading instruction is vital for all students to learn to read. In addition, the National Reading Panel found that the most effective reading instruction requires a 90-minute time frame that includes differentiated reading instruction. 

Sounds like a piece of cake, right (that’s sarcasm there, carving out 90 minutes of a day is anything but a cake walk)? The truth is that between back to school staff meetings and meet the teacher nights, it isn’t always easy to find the time to create an effective Structured Literacy block. However, it is vital for student success. A second hurdle to overcome is figuring out exactly what should be included during your reading time. 

Lucky for all of us educators, we don’t have to figure it out on our own. We know that reading skills are a critical foundation in the pursuit of academic achievement. Early detection and appropriate intervention can improve achievement and self-esteem.

There has also been research conducted by a number of scientists and educators that have helped us figure out what we need to be doing during that reading time. Research has identified elements that are critical in implementing an effective structured literacy program. These elements are:

phonological awareness

syntax

phonics

semantics

syllable instruction

comprehension

sight word recognition

oral reading fluency

morphology

silent reading fluency

In addition, effective instruction will include spelling, grammar and syntax focus for written expression. When designing your reading lessons, it is critical that you include all components to reach all learners. By creating a reading block that focuses on the Structured Literacy methodology, you will help ensure that all of your students experience reading and writing success. 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com






Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Often, in parent-teacher conferences or in a note sent home from school, parents learn the level that their child is reading at. Depending on the school you might be told that your child is “reading at level G,” or is “at a Lexile 130,” or “is below/on/above grade level,” or is “reading at a 2.3.” While this measure does provide some insight into where your child is performing with reading, it is far from the most important reading indication. In some cases, it can mask potential reading difficulties or leave you feeling confused about what to do next.

In order to truly understand your child’s reading performance, you need more information. However, if you aren’t a reading specialist, it can be difficult to do know what you need to know. Whether your child is at grade level, above grade level, on grade level, reading at level x,y,z or anything in between, you need to know how they perform at certain reading skills. This information is critical in assessing your child’s performance and determining a reading action plan. It is especially crucial if they are functioning below grade level in reading.

Here are a few areas that you can ask your child’s teacher about and some specific questions to get more information on your child’s reading performance.

Letter naming and sound recognition: this indicates your child’s ability to name letters and also associate the sound of the letter with the symbol. While they are separate skills, they are often lumped together on many assessments. By about mid-kindergarten (if not sooner) your child should know all letter names and all sounds, including all short vowel sounds and, depending on the state and school, it may also include long vowels. Also, important to note some students may have trouble with some consonant sounds (specifically sounds like <r> can come a bit later developmentally), as long as this articulation issue does not prevent them from reading and comprehending words with those sounds, it is unlikely to cause a reading issue.  

If this is a concern, ask your child’s teacher: What letters does my child know the names of? What about the sounds? What letter names is he missing? What sounds does she not know? Does he know both long and short vowel sounds?

If the answer to these questions indicated a gap in reading performance, Structured Literacy intervention can help close that gap before it becomes severe in the higher grades.

Phonological awareness: this is an absolutely critical reading skill and a predictor of future reading success. Most phonological skills should be mastered by kindergarten. See our previous blog  for a more detailed list of skills, but basically, this involves the ability to orally rhyme, identify sounds, segment and blend sounds, as well as add, delete, and substitute sounds in order to create new words.

To get more information on this subset of skills, ask your child’s teacher: Can she identify and produce rhyming words? Can he stretch and blend sounds? Can she change sounds in the beginning, middle, and ending of words?

This is an important foundational skill, and reading progress becomes very difficult if it is lacking. If your child struggles in this area beyond the middle of kindergarten, early intervention is crucial to reading success.

Phonics: this is a very broad topic and has to do with associating the phoneme or sound of a spelling pattern with its grapheme or written form. Each grade level has a different set of spelling pattern expectations, and it is important that your child demonstrates mastery of grade-level-appropriate phonics.

Even strong readers can have difficulty in this area. Often, students are able to memorize words and can trick educators into thinking they have phonics patterns mastered. However, if these are not truly internalized their reading can begin to “fall apart” as texts get more complicated.

To determine if your child is mastering appropriate phonics skills, ask the teacher: Can he read grade-level appropriate spelling patterns in and out of text? Can she spell words with appropriate spelling patterns? Can he read unknown words or nonsense words with grade level appropriate spelling patterns?

The ability to read nonsense words is especially important in determining if your child has mastered phonics skills. In order to demonstrate mastery, she needs to be able to read nonsense words using decoding abilities. If your child is able to read real words but not nonsense words, it is an indication of weak phonics skills. It is important to address and remediate this before it becomes a major roadblock in reading development.

Fluency: this refers to your child’s ability to read with appropriate speed and expression. Your child should be reading with a speed that enables him to understand what he is reading and expression appropriate to what is happening. Often, poor fluency can lead to poor comprehension and impede reading development in later grades.

To learn more about your child’s fluency, ask the teacher: How many words per minute does she read? What is the grade level goal for fluency? Does he read with appropriate expression? Are there any times when poor fluency seems to affect his comprehension? Is she trying to read too fast and failing to understand what she is reading?

The answers to these questions can give you important insight into your child’s reading, wherever it may fall on the grade level spectrum.

Comprehension: this is the ability to understand what is being read and use the information to answer questions, make inferences, draw conclusions, and make predictions. While it is included in most assessments that determine reading level, it is such an important element of reading development that it should be examined in more detail with your child’s teacher. Often, even strong readers can and do struggle with higher level reading comprehension.

To figure out how well your child comprehends a text, ask the teacher: Can he answer questions with explicit answers in the text? Can he answer higher level thinking questions and make inferences? Is she able to make and confirm predictions during reading? If so, how often can she do these things? What areas does he struggle with? What are his strengths?

In addition to these five areas, there are many more areas you can delve into. Vocabulary and writing also play an important role in literacy development as do sight word reading ability, oral retelling, and many other areas. It is impossible to create an exhaustive list, but hopefully the above will give you somewhere to start and some ways to talk about reading beyond a grade level.

Even if your child is at grade level, there may still be areas that they struggle with. It is important to know this and ensure that your child masters all reading skills.

If your child struggles with reading, getting effective intervention is key to their reading success. Even if you are told to “wait and see” by the school, keep in mind that this does not work. If your child is young, you may be told that children develop at different stages. This is not supported by research. Research indicates that early intervention does close the gap. Structured Literacy programs like our online tutoring program are research proven to increase reading skills. We work with your child and determine the exact areas of reading to focus on which increases their success.

Contact us for more information or if you have any questions about your child’s reading abilities.  

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com



Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading.
Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

reading tutoringIf you were asked to name a pivotal year in school, one that influenced future academic success for years, what would you say? Junior high, senior year of high school, the first year of college? While these are all important landmarks in an individual’s education, I would argue one of the most critical years is third grade.

 

Yep, you heard that right, third grade. The third grade represents a major shift in what students learn and how they are taught, especially when it comes to reading. The focus shifts from learning to read – decoding text and sight words – to reading to learn. Instead of simple sentences and predictable spelling patterns, students are now being asked to read about a topic and learn from a text.

 

There is also a shift from reading primarily fiction text to reading mostly nonfiction. Students are asked to read, absorb, and use information. This is a pivot point for many readers, especially those who struggle. If children are not fluent readers by the time they enter third grade, they are likely to fall behind, and the gap will continue to grow if appropriate reading intervention is not implemented. This has major effects on a child’s academic future. A study conducted in 2011 by Donald J. Hernandez and released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who lacked proficiency in third-grade reading were four times as likely as their on grade level peers to drop out of high school.

 

Research shows that students with a range of reading disabilities who receive appropriate intervention focused on accuracy and fluency by the end of 2nd – 3rd grade will usually catch up (Torgesen et al., 2003). Unfortunately, students who get appropriate intervention after 3rd grade do not catch up in terms of reading fluency. This group of students may get close to their peers in accuracy; however, fluency, while it improves over time, remains behind peers and presents a significant reading impediment.

 

If your child is behind in reading as they approach or enter third grade, it is imperative that they get the reading intervention they need. Here are a few ways that you can help support your child with reading at home.

 

  1. Focus on reading a variety of texts. Even if your child hasn’t even started school yet, make sure that you are reading both fiction and non-fiction to them. Read functional texts as well, like the back of the cereal box, graphs, signs, and directions. Point out different text types and what their purpose is (to inform, to entertain, to teach how to do something).
  2. Work on phonological awareness skills. From preschool, children need to be working on manipulating the sounds in words and syllables. Ask your child to stretch out the sounds in words, blend them together, break words into syllables and generate rhyming words. For a more complete list of ways to practice phonological awareness skills, check out our blog dedicated to the subject.
  3. Make sure your child is still getting explicit phonics instruction. Children who struggle with reading need direct and explicit instruction in letter sounds. Check out our blog for some ideas to practice phonics skills. If your child shows significant deficits in phonics, you may want to think about signing them up for our online reading tutoring program.
  4. Have your child read out loud. Parents can often feel a bit blindsided because they think their child is doing fine. Starting in about third grade, we tend to stop asking students to read out loud. This makes it difficult to know if your child is struggling. You can make reading out loud fun and even trick your child into thinking it is a game. One activity to encourage reading out loud is to trade off. You start reading a text and point to your child when you want them to take over. Go back and forth until you finish the text. You can also have your child record themselves reading a story and play it back so they can hear how they sounded. Some children love to read to their pet. Particularly older children, as they are not self-conscious while reading to their furry friend. This may be the only time an older child will willingly read aloud. Encourage them to use appropriate expression and even voices for different characters. Also, like with other texts, make sure that you are reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction text.
  5. Ask your child about what they are reading. If your child is reading a fiction text, a few good go-to questions are: Who are the characters? What is the problem in the story? What is the solution? Would you have done anything differently? Why do you think he/she/they did that? How is the character feeling right now? Make sure to always ask for justification from the text. For example, if your child says a character is sad, make them prove it using examples from the story. If your child is reading a non-fiction text you can ask things like: What is the author’s purpose? What is the text mostly about? How do you know? What type of text is this? Why did the author write the text? Is there anything you would like to know more about?
  6. Encourage your child to monitor their own comprehension. Often, children who struggle don’t know when they don’t understand what they are reading. Encourage your child to identify when they are having difficulty and go back and reread. You can also have them take notes and ask questions as they read. Sticky notes or a reader’s notebook are a great way to get kids excited about this task.

 

reading interventionWhile these are all great ways to help your child who struggles to read, the best and most important thing you can do as a parent is getting your child the reading intervention they need. For children with reading difficulties, our online reading tutoring provides a Structured Literacy approach that has been proven time and time again to be effective.

 

Our reading clinicians are skilled at identifying areas for growth, and our program is tailored to fit your child. Plus, since it is all online there are no commutes or time wasted sitting in a waiting room. We also provide you will tools and skills to help your child at home.

 

If you suspect your child has trouble with reading, don’t wait for them to get further behind. Contact us today to get them the help they need.

 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com

 

Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading. Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

dictionary-390055__340, CC0_pixabayWhen students struggle with reading and literacy, it is imperative that their reading intervention go hand in hand with writing and explicit spelling instruction. Often, in the classroom, it is the case that spelling instruction is an after-thought and is confined to spelling drills and memorization (Birsh, 2005). However, for students who struggle with dyslexia or other reading difficulties, memorization and drills are not enough and engaging in traditional spelling activities does them a disservice. Read on to learn how spelling and writing are integrated into a Structured Literacy program and how it can help students who struggle with reading.

I will admit it, when I was a first and second-year teacher, I struggled with integrating spelling into my instruction in a meaningful way. If I am being completely honest, it took me a few years to understand the relationship between reading and spelling.

learn-921255__340-cc0_pixabayI cringe thinking about some of my first parent/teacher conferences when I told parents “there is always spelling check.” I adopted the common classroom philosophy that if students were immersed in print, and taught to read, they would somehow magically learn to spell (Birsch, 2005).

After specialized training in how language is developed, I became a more proficient teacher and focused on direct literacy instruction. I found that spelling and writing are absolutely essential parts of the reading process. Students need explicit spelling and writing instruction in order to become proficient readers. In fact, research conducted by Brady and Moats in the mid to late 90’s indicated that learning to spell is a more complicated process than learning to read and requires explicit instruction (Birsch, 2005).

beach starfish printed over white caribbean sand such a summer vacation symbol

Without direct spelling instruction, many children will struggle to spell and ultimately to write even after their reading struggle has been remediated. Written expression is a necessary skill and needs to be explicitly taught in conjunction with reading skills. Students need to be taught about language and structure in order to learn to effectively spell and read words.

When engaging in spelling activities, the teacher or reading clinician must be an active participant and must be able to accurately impart knowledge about the rules of the English language. These include a deep knowledge of phonetics and phonics. Additionally, knowledge of orthography (conventional spelling rules and the representation of sounds as written symbols), morphology (prefixes, suffixes, and base word analysis), and vocabulary must be addressed during spelling instruction. These activities engage the student in a process that deciphers the reason for the spelling pattern rather than rote memory.

Many spelling difficulties arise when students are not able to accurately segment and blend the sounds in words. For example, if students do not understand that the word <tree> has three distinct sounds they cannot accurately spell it. An essential component of effective spelling instruction is the explicit teaching of phonemic awareness. When our reading clinicians at RW&C work with students, there is a phonemic awareness component to every single lesson whether students are working on letter sounds or advanced reading comprehension.

dyslexia

By ensuring that students can hear and manipulate sounds in syllables and words, our effective reading clinicians are making sure that students have and continue to develop the skills necessary to spell words correctly and express ideas in writing.

In addition, students need to understand the relationship between the sounds in words (phonemes) and the written symbols (graphemes). Our structured literacy lessons focus on this relationship with both reading and writing, helping students learn and internalize basic spelling patterns to complicated patterns.

Equally important, there should be a focus on morphology which is a critical component of any spelling program. Understanding root words and rules for prefixes and suffixes helps students understand spelling patterns. For example, looking at the word <business>, many people may wonder where the <i> comes from since it is silent. Understanding that the root word is <busy> and knowing that <y> changes to an <i> when adding a suffix (with the exception of a few orthographic rules) means that students will understand why the word is spelled the way it is and will help them internalize the spelling pattern.

By introducing, modeling, and practicing these skills explicitly, it helps students learn how to spell words correctly which improves and reinforces all literacy skills.

online tutoringOur reading clinicians also have extensive knowledge of child development and know when to correct spelling and when to allow children to rely on inventive spelling that is based on their own internalized understanding of phonemes and graphemes. This allows us to teach more than memorization because we teach the skills that students are developmentally ready for and not skills that are above their level. Just like in reading, in spelling it is “not the age, it’s the stage.” Students should not be pushed to memorize spelling patterns they are not ready for because it will ultimately do more harm than good.

Our online tutoring program integrates a multi-sensory approach to spelling according to the Structured Literacy framework. Students are engaged in looking, listening, repeating, segmenting, naming, and writing spelling patterns. Words are also integrated into phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to promote and develop further understanding. Research has shown this to be the most effective way to teach spelling and to integrate it into reading and overall literacy development (Birsch, 2005).

Spelling and writing are integral parts of literacy instruction and must be included systematically and explicitly in all literacy programs, especially those designed for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. While one may think direct and explicit spelling instruction is a distraction from content writing, it actually enhances it by empowering students to use a wider and more sophisticated vocabulary to describe their story rather than choose words that are easier to spell. If your child struggles with spelling, it is not a problem that will simply fix itself and will likely lead to other literacy difficulties down the road.

The important take away is that our English language spelling system is logical, makes sense, and is critical to reading and writing. Approximately 87% of English words are reliable to read and spell (Hanna et al., 1966) once the orthographic patterns have been mastered. However, for the novice or struggling speller, in order for the system to make sense it may take a Structured Literacy expert to help your child navigate the nuances of the English language.

Don’t wait for your child to struggle. Get them the help they need to be successful. Contact us today to discuss your child’s needs and find out if our online reading program is a good fit for you.

 

Becky Welsch
RW&C, LLC
www.rwc4reading.com

 

Becky Welsch has a Master’s degree in K-8 Education. She is certified to teach in the state of Arizona and has special endorsements in the areas of English Language Learners and Reading. Becky has worked with struggling readers in the primary as well as secondary grades. Her experience also includes intensive reading intervention both in person as well as with online teletherapy. Becky has experience with early literacy skills like phonics and phonemic awareness development. She has used several structured literacy programs including Language! and Spalding phonics. She is also trained to administer DIBELS tests and has worked with the DIBELS Next reading remediation program.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,