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Step Up to Writing®
by Marilyn Sprick on Mar 13, 2019
LEARN MORE ABOUT READ WELL K–2
As educators, our mission is to provide all of our students with opportunities as they move into the working world. Sadly, 32 million adult Americans read below a basic level. Locked into low-wage jobs, nearly 60 percent of those with low literacy earn less than $16,000 annually. These are people who lack foundational reading skills. What can we do about this issue?
Many districts have adopted assessments that screen for risk each fall, winter, and spring. These systems provide invaluable data in identifying students who are most in need of early intervention and support. Beyond identification comes a commitment to:
Diagnostic-prescriptive teaching methods focus on identifying students’ strengths (what students can do) and identifying specific weaknesses (what students have difficulty with) in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and/or comprehension. From their observations, teachers then implement prescriptions that remediate difficulties.
Above all, diagnostic-prescriptive teaching requires teachers listen to their students read out loud regularly, so they reinforce success and remediate weaknesses. Diagnostic-prescriptive teachers are prepared to take great joy in each small step mastered.
This blog post provides two examples of how diagnostic-prescriptive teaching helps remediate common errors in word reading and fluency to improve reading for understanding.
Example 1—Overreliance on context
In the following passage, the student inserted the word “down” and read “food” for “farm.” Both errors result in poor fluency. Reading “food” for “farm” creates a comprehension problem. The errors are representative of the types of errors this student makes—especially when fatigued.
Passage: Plants and animals live in the big trees. People need the trees, too. Some people want the lumber from trees. Other people cut the trees (inserted “down”) because they need farm (read “food” for “farm”) land. Still, other people are working to keep the land as it is.
Diagnosis: In this example, the student knew the letter/sound correspondences for all consonants and for “ar” and “oo.” The error was not due to a lack of skills but rather to the student’s overreliance on context.
The student uses his knowledge of oral language to anticipate what he thinks the passage is going to say instead of reading the words on the page. In other words, the student periodically tries to “author” vs. “read.”
The following prescriptions are for an individual student but can be modified for use with a group.
Prescription 1: Accuracy goals and error counting
Prescription 2: Student as teacher
Read a paragraph at a pace similar to the student’s reading rate. Make errors that are similar to the types of errors the student makes. Let the student “catch” you. Say something like: I’m going to read. If you hear me make a mistake, say “stop.” Then, tell me the correct word. Reinforce the student. You are a great teacher. I appreciate you catching my errors.
Prescription 3: Reinforce accurate reading
Copy a decodable passage. Have the student read the passage. As the student reads, draw a star above each word read correctly the first time. Then, have the student reread so you can fill in any missing stars.
Prescription 4: Word study discrimination
During daily word study (Decoding Practice), include discrimination practice that forces complete letter processing.
Word Lists: Have the student read the underlined sound, sound out the word, then say the word. (Use known sounds.)
farm harm hard food mood moon
Example 2—Accurate but slow reading
Diagnosis: In the following passage, the student read 42 words correct per minute with 100 percent accuracy. Phrasing was poor and the pace of reading slow. Underlined words were repeated or read with difficulty.
Passage: Friends were split up. Parents, teachers, and kids were mad. The teacher had said it didn’t matter. She said, “A team of you will go deep into the past—a team of six.”
Six kids were picked—Mindy, Zack, Tuppins, Ling, Shack, and Anna. Ms. X said, “You are lucky. Tuppins will go with you. You will need him.”
Prescription 1: Build automaticity with rhyming words and multisyllabic words
Prescription 2: Build automaticity and phrasing with sentence fluency
(e.g., Where … Where did … Where did the two friends go?
The two friends … The two friends went … The two friends went to school.)
Prescription 3: Provide corrective feedback
Prescription 4: Provide short passage practice
Results of diagnostic-prescriptive teaching
When Read Well® and other research-based curricula are used as tools by well-trained teachers, positive results are magnified even for our lowest performers. The following quote demonstrates the importance of teachers and training.
“We have been using Read Well for several years in our elementary special education resource rooms. After attending the Read Well workshop with Marilyn, we re-examined how we were using Read Well, focusing on increasing our diagnostic teaching skills within the program. Since our relaunch, we are seeing between 50 percent to 80 percent of our students certified in the area of reading make gains of at least 1.5 grade levels in one year on our districtwide reading assessment (NWEA). We have several certified students (30 percent) who are showing growth rates above two grade levels in one year's time.”
—Kim Marquette, district teacher consultant, Farmington Public Schools
Our mission is to provide all of our students with opportunities as they move into the world of work. Doing education well means to create future opportunities for students. One small step at a time, we can help all children become stronger, more proficient readers. To read well or not is life changing.
Marilyn Sprick is the lead author of Read Well K–2 and The Third Quest (for struggling adolescent readers). Join Marilyn in June for an intensive workshop on training and teaching Read Well K–2 diagnostically, effectively, and with fidelity.
Visit readwellteachwell.com to learn more. Contact Marilyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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