Monday, February 02, 2009

What Word?

"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.


At 6:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you're all having to suffer through this! (Our scripted "reading intervention" calls for a puppet. Even the first graders looked at me like I had three heads when I started talking to a puppet. . now imagine what the 5th graders did). At least I finally convinced them that the library should NOT be closed during "reading intervention." I mean, WTH do you think the library is about? PE?

On the upside, if they did blow off the tests previously--meaning they don't really need to be in this class--they might take tests a bit more seriously.

At 6:54 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

You might want to take a look at the Gering school district which was in a similar situation.

At 7:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? There are so few parts of your little speech that were appropriate to say to your kids. The program won't make them feel stupid... you will.

At 12:15 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

No, I'm not kidding you. And no, I won't make them feel stupid. Do you know why? Because the students who have bought into have said, "Mister, this stupid repeating stuff makes me feel retarded. Are we in the dumb class?"
To which I respond, "No. Your reading level is not your intelligence level. Your reading level is a result of practice, just like a sport. If anyone hears us doing this program and tells you that you are stupid, tell them to come talk to me. I'd like to have a conversation with them."
So,Bey--and I know I will get called arrogant for this--you don't have a damned clue what you are talking about.

At 3:10 PM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

Which is more emabarrassing? Having to recite words in unison or getting called on in another class to read aloud when you cannot?

As a point of reference my six year old daughter, now in kindergarten, is learning to read using the same system. She's on lesson 128 in the fast cycle and can already read words like stripe (and can reliably distinguish it from strip).

The real shame is that most of these kids would have also been able to decode as well by this time in kindergarten and the most of the rest would have been able to do so sometime in first grade.

At 4:58 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

I've been a critic of the program in the past. I haven't watched the video yet, but I will.
I'll admit that this summer my wife plans to experiment with the 101 Lesson book (is that right?) to begin my three year old down the path. Of course, we've read to her every day of her life and she already exhibits language pattern recognition.
The embarrassment is real. It comes out in defiance, humor, or whatever coping mechanism they've developed over the years.
I won't lie though, I don't like teaching this program. Not because I don't think it works, but because it isn't my passion to teach the elementary skills of reading. To do this program five times a day withers my brain productivity to near negative output. But I will take one for the team.
I'm not conviced yet that it works--we're in day three--but I am at least completely open to the possibility of success.
KDerosa, please forgive me for all previous put downs directed at DI. But if they don't learn to read better, I take that plea back!

At 5:38 AM , Blogger KDeRosa said...

I believe it's called poetic justice. :)

Yes, It's 100 Easy Lessons. Or you can let the computer do the heavy lifting and get Funnix ( or you can grab a copy of Reading Mastery fast Cycle Rainbow Edition (with presentation book) from Ebay. It's much easier going teaching a child with well developed language skills. You don't have to worry about signals and you can cut some things like spelling the words before saying them (in the intermediate levels) if the child is attending to the letters.

I agree that teaching basic skills for anything, including reading, tends to be boring and repetitive. I'm not cut out for it either.

i would be surprise if their ORF scores don't increase signficantly in a few months. See The Effects of the Corrective Reading Decoding Program on the Basic Reading Skills and Social Adjustment of Students With High-Incidence Disabilities, though any increase in comprehension will likely not be measurable on most tests of comprehension since you're basically doing triage at this point. You can't compensate for all those lost years with little practice reading.

At 1:34 PM , Blogger Kathy said...

If your wife wants to have a fun summer teaching your daughter to read try these:

or they can be bought here:

and you can get some great supplemental materials here for free:

This is the easiest beginning reading program out there and has a long history of research to back it up.

For 3 and 4 year olds it can be beat.

I have used it for the lat 6 years at my school with great success and you don't have to learn any scripts which would drive me nuts.



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