"The word is stripe. Stripe is spelled, S-T-R-I-P-E. Spell stripe," I command followed by the signal--an egg shaped maraca.
"S-T-R-I-P-E," the class recalls.
"What word?" I ask, again signalling for their response.
"Stripe," they reply.
Over and over again, I read various instructions for my students. Upon my signal, they mostly reply, and mostly in unison. We're still in the formative sessions of the McGraw-Hill Corrective Reading program.
In the first three days, I have found relative success implementing the program for the students who are reasonably well adjusted to life in general and school specifically. They follow the repetitious and juvenile chorus because of the sale's pitch.
On the day before we began the program, I gave them these thoughts:
"The State of Connecticut has said that all of its students must be reading at grade level. As part of that mandate, they told our school district that we need to do a better job of teaching you reading skills. That isn't to say what all of your previous teachers had done was wrong, only that it wasn't scientifically researched. The state wants scientifically researched programs.
So, our Central Office, not me, not your teachers, but people you don't know, chose this program because it was both cost effective and researched to have some success.
The Central Office told the principals that we would be doing this program, so I have no ability to change you out of this class or change the curriculum.
I will tell you this: it will make you feel like you are in the third grade or below; but if you tested into this class, that means your reading level is between the second and fifth grade level. So, we have to go back and teach you properly the skills necessary to read at the ninth grade level.
This program can only succeed at improving your skills if you decide it is important and thus work hard to do your best.
I will allow you to complain today and tomorrow, but on Monday it will not be acceptable. Any questions?"
They had plenty. They complained. And so far, most have bought in. I caught two students who complained vehemently skipping today; one resentful young man slouched and mumbled his way through today's lesson. But the others at least tried to make the best of it.