Articles from "Food for Thought":
Whether you call it organizing or juggling, allocating your time to different kinds of instruction is a huge challenge. If you have limited time with students who are already struggling, you need flexibility. At the same time, you are under a great deal of pressure to meet dozens of specified standards. While the Stevenson Program does require you to follow a special sequence, there are numerous ways to adjust your instruction time to make the most of it. Click here for a few brief suggestions.
Schools seldom schedule workshops for the summer, because everyone needs a vacation. However, in the summer of 2015 there will be several valuable opportunities for teachers to receive training on the Stevenson Program. On June 24th, Dr. Tom Diebold will give a full day workshop on the Beginning Green Level of the program at the ESC of Central Ohio in Columbus. On June 25th, Tom will do a full day on the Overlapping Strategy and the Basic Blue Level of the program. On August 3rd, at the Region 10 ESC near Dallas, Texas, our senior trainer Nancy Ziehme will do a full day workshop on the Beginning Green Level of the program as well as a full day workshop on August 4th on the Overlapping Strategy and the Basic Blue Level. You will need to register with the appropriate ESC, but you can find contact information here (scroll down to dates).
Some things to think about as you try to do the impossible.
Struggling readers come in many varieties, but we can safely say that they have one thing in common: they don’t easily learn to read in the same way as other students. However, we want the struggling readers to cover the same material as the other students. We want these students included or mainstreamed as much as possible because such inclusion has clear benefits. It also creates a clear problem for teachers who work with struggling readers. How do you do everything that the other students do, when your students need to do things differently?
Between now and the holiday break, we will be setting up some workshops for the second half of the school year. While some dates and sites are set, we still have a few options open. If you know an area where many teachers would be interested in attending a Stevenson Workshop, please let us know. We will see what we can arrange.
Now is the time to make decisions about your struggling readers
This is the heart of the school year. We hope you enjoyed the Holidays, but do not forget how important now and the near future will be for your student’s reading progress. Sometime in March or April , many schools will start preparing students for standardized testing. Spring breaks will come and go, and then the actual testing will interrupt the regular schedule. Now is the time to make some important decisions about your students’ reading development.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season. Teachers, who are often parents as well, are used to taking care of others, so don't forget - take care of yourself too. Get some rest. Have some fun.
Lessons 15 through 19 of the Basic Blue Core Manual establish a foundation for all the suffix work that is woven into the remainder of the Stevenson Program. While the essential concept of adding suffixes to words is reviewed several times at different points in the program, your instruction will proceed more smoothly if students really master Lessons 15-19 before covering much more of the Blue Level. Stevenson makes the whole process of adding suffixes easier to understand by making these phonics elements more concrete and more memorable. For example, students scrape off one kind of frosting from their layer cake words and then add a different flavor. However, if your students have very significant learning problems, the transition from single syllable (one-beat) words to two syllables (beats)
In the Spring of 2013, we wrote an article about some of the teaching issues that arise when struggling readers encounter the Common Core Standards. Of course, we are not the only ones to have concerns in this area, and this topic is undoubtedly going to be an ongoing subject of discussion. Education Week recently published a multi-part report entitled, "Diverse Learners and the Common Core." You might be interested in the whole report, but we particularly liked the piece called "Common Core's Promise Collides with IEP Realities." In the article many educators seemed worried about cognitively impaired pupils in particular. However, some degree of conflict exists between the standards and the needs of any atypical learner. Consider dyslexic students, children with ADHD and pupils with auditory processing issues. They all require some amount of special instruction. We are not suggesting that high standards be abandoned, only that the standard bearers need to consider the needs of all learners. If you would like to check out the Education Week article, click here.
We recently posted a new, simple assessment tool that you can use with students who are following the Overlapping Strategy. This startegy is an approach to starting the Stevenson Program. It covers key information from the first level of the program and teaches it concurrently with the second level (thus "overlapping" the content of the two levels). The Overlapping Strategy is usually used with struggling readers at the upper elementary or middle/high school level - students who don't need to repeat letter level phonics, and who have at least a small amount of reading skill already. The assessments are simply a few word lists used to help you determine which phonics elements are most problematic for the student. Along with the lists and directions, you will find some suggestions for varying the pace and emphasis of your instruction as you move through the materials. This new teaching tool can be found under the "Teaching Resources" section of this website (fourth item), or you can simply click here and print it.
A national movement has been underway for several years now with a with a perfectly reasonable goal: to develop common core educational standards that will apply nationally, rather than have fifty different sets of standards from each state to which educators and publishers must adjust. These are intended to be minimum standards, not complete specifications for all curricula at all levels. They are also not intended to preclude local decision making.
All good intentions aside, however, the Common Core State Standards create some thorny issues. We won’t try to weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of the CCSS in this article. However, we thought we would make a few points that might help teachers who are using, or want to start using, the