So my friend Fred Morrison at Michigan has just done some wonderful work showing that for kids entering grade one, low skills, a very explicit skill-oriented curriculum is the best way to give them a big growth year in first grade. With respect to the assessment piece, I've spent a great deal of my time studying very effective teachers, and one of the things they do every day, every hour, and the best of them actually every minute of every hour, is size up how the kids are responding to the tasks and the instruction they've been given. Oh, my gosh you got in the word bake right at the time. What about schools that adopted a single reading program? The very best, most well thought out, heavily researched and historically important published programs have that in them.
Louise Spear-Swerling is a professor of special education and the reading and area coordinator of the Graduate Program in learning disabilities at Southern Connecticut State University.For students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, creative teaching methods that use two or more senses can dramatically improve language skills and academic outcomes. Welcome to this year's first Reading Rockets teleconference.One of those is being very aware of what the components of successful reading are. It's a complex endeavor, and to understand those facets, the different elements and the particular skills within those is important, and I think that's a lifelong pursuit for teachers.I think the second thing is to become more and more skilled at being aware of student needs, really watching kids as individuals and trying to attend to them, both formally and informally to get a sense of what's working for a student in relation to those goals and what's not working for a particular student.Delia: That's a very thoughtful process, practice, lots of practice. Sometimes it's easy to think that differentiation is some sort of tea leaf reading, I look at her, she looks like she would do better with this. Narrator: Every three months Metzger school district comes in to do their own assessment of each child. And without a doubt, what you see in the very best, most effective schools and class rooms is they are using lots and lots of assessments.
But assessment really is our measure of where a particular student is in regard to particular goals. Why are our students coming to us at so many different levels? There isn't any collection of people that don't differ in multiple ways. That's in addition to the weekly or biweekly assessments that the school does. Using standardized test, sometimes they use something like a dibble system but much more important is the teacher monitoring, is the kid responding to this instruction? A centerpiece of new thinking about how you differentiate instruction is to try different, you know if the kid isn't getting it in the current setup try something else and monitor is there growth going on and go what works for that youngster.What can I do to be more flexible with time use than maybe I have been? Is there a way to get more resources or to use the resource has I have more flexibly? They are right and then we need to fine a way to provide more support to him. Pressley: Well, I think that it's one arrow you have in your quiver and one teachers use a lot.And an important thing in starting for teachers is to realize that differentiation is not apart from good teaching, it's a part of good teaching. Narrator: At Metzger they do flexible grouping, small groups, a variety of researched based teaching methods, a variety of interventions for struggling readers and regular ongoing assessment. Pressley in Oregon we see one way of differentiating reading and that's flexible grouping across class rooms. With respect to the most challenging students, however, a few years ago I wrote a book on a 581 challenges of beginning teaching.So by doing those sort of standard good teaching things, you can become better and better. As part of that we had a contrast, are any of these challenges that endure?I think an important piece of advice for teachers is to begin with something that seems manageable. There's one that endures throughout your career as a teacher and it's figures out what to do with the most difficult students, the ones who are making the least gain. Now, one of the things that was very important on that tape was talking about a additional instruction.I think you constantly have to refresh yourself on the components of reading to which you're aiming and continually refine your assessment skills and your awareness of students. But while they continue to give him positive feedback his teachers are concerned. For the most challenged students, just the flexible grouping will not be enough.