When Michelle Riojas and fellow teachers at Somerset Academy Miramar (FL) implemented a new literacy solution, these four strategies helped ensure improved literacy and reading outcomes:
1) Know a Student’s Deficiency. Knowing where a student stands and the areas where he or she is deficient is a crucial first step. Is she struggling in phonics? With r-controlled vowels? With long-vowel sounds? By zeroing in on the specific problem (or problems), instructors can teach to the specific need.
2) Leverage Outcomes Monitoring. What’s the purpose of using an instructional program if teachers don’t look at the progress-monitoring reports? Pulling reports according to grade level enables teachers to pinpoint quickly which students need more help and which ones are making progress. With 30-minute daily interventions on phonological awareness and comprehension skills, for example, one student who had a one percent chance of reaching the end-of-year benchmark passed her end-of-the-year test without a problem.
3) Use Collaboration and Teamwork. Parents, students, teachers, reading coaches, and administrators all play a role in those positive outcomes. Technology is a great enabler, but it doesn’t replace the human factor.
4) Set Reasonable-but-Lofty Expectations. At a webinar a year ago, the person who was helping Riojas with their implementation plan asked her, “What percentage of your kids do you anticipate will be using the reading program on a daily basis or a weekly basis for completing their assignments?” “100 percent,” she said. “She questioned that goal, but I stood behind it,” Riojas says. “We’re now very close to that number. I tell our teachers all the time that there’s really no excuse for not having 100 percent participation. Achieving this goal takes hard work on the part of the teacher and the reading coach. We’re all very involved in our students’ literacy success.”
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