What are some ways to improve reading fluency, reading comprehension, and basic math skills?
October 3, 2010 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to draw up a list of targeted interventions for elementary school students struggling with computation, reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension.

My school is screening its students to find those who are behind in the aforementioned areas. We're looking for new ways to remediate these skills over the course of the school year with the goal of getting them to grade level.

I'd be interested in hearing from teachers, parents, and former students about programs you can vouch for.

We already have basic skills teachers in math (that would be me) and language arts that meet with students in small groups once a week. Some of these "new" students will no doubt be special ed students, others will not be.

Suggestions LIKE the ones I'm looking for:

-Take Wilson Reading several times a week

-Read aloud to a parent for a certain amount of time each day and document with a time card

-Read a certain number of books and give book talks to either the homeroom teacher or the basic skills language arts teacher

-Spend a certain amount of time each day/week reviewing basic math facts and document with a time card
posted by alphanerd to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Special ed teacher here...this is kind of a gigantic question and the answers really depend on:

* age of students (a 5th grader will have dramatically different interventions that a six-year old);

* exactly where they need help (phonemic decoding, fluency, etc.);

* what does your district/school already have in place (i.e. if kids are using Singapore Math for remedial work, then there's no need to reinvent the wheel);

* what assessment is used to determine who's falling behind (i.e. if you're using a too-difficult assessment, for example, and checking to see if kids have non-age-appropriate skills, then the assessment needs to be examined), conversely, if you're using a too-easy assessment then you're going to miss kids;

* the incorporation (and testing) of special education kids will vary widely (i.e. you're not going to give kids on the spectrum the same lessons as dyslexic kids, visually impaired kids, ELL kids or kids with emotional/behavioral issues) etc.
posted by dzaz at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2010

...but of the interventions you mention, I would only say this: any intervention that you're putting on the parents sets up their kids up to fail. Please don't force parents into being teachers. It generally messes up the playing field even more than it is.
posted by dzaz at 12:23 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback, dzaz. As for your questions:

- The students in question are in grades 4 and 5.

- As for what they need help with/what the assessment is, I don't think I have the vocabulary to describe exactly what's happening on the language arts side, but I can briefly describe the assessment. (It's provided by AIMSweb, as discussed in this thread, in which you also made an appearance.) From what I've been able to surmise, students are flagged if they're in the lowest 25% nationally on any of these assessments, so they're being scored relative to their peers.

In one assessment, the students are simply told to read aloud from a passage, and are scored according to how many words they read correctly in one minute. Pronunciation counts, and if they can't get a word after three seconds, it is marked down as incorrect.

The second assessment asks students to read through a passage and choose one of three words to complete a sentence. The words are: the correct choice, a near distractor, and a far distractor. This is to test for reading comprehension.

On the math side, they will be asked questions on a broad assortment of topics they "should" know.

- Right now, our school doesn't have a special program for remedial work, at least in math. I don't believe they have one on the language arts side of basic skills, though they use Wilson Reading on the language arts end of special education.

In math, I'm basically paying attention to what's going on in their classes and fleshing those topics out in small groups with an emphasis on the basic skills they need to do them. For what it's worth, the textbooks they use are Math Advantage.
posted by alphanerd at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2010

Best answer: Thanks for the clarifications! Can you talk to the sped teachers to see what they use? Again, no point in reinventing the wheel if your school already has stuff in place.

But FWIW, for "typical" but struggling kids in ELA we use Orton Gillingham or Wilson if you're looking at pure decoding issues, for math we use Saxon Math as remedial materials.
posted by dzaz at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, dzaz. We can definitely have a look at what's going on in special ed, and I'll bring up Saxon Math (with my fingers properly crossed, of course).
posted by alphanerd at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2010

I'm not an expert on this, but I have a couple of ideas:

1. Make reading fun for the kids by allowing them to pick out books about subjects they are interested in. If a kid likes baseball, help him choose a book about baseball. Make shopping for a book a fun experience. The parents could plan an outing where everyone picks out one book that looks interesting.

2. If the kids have pets, suggest that they try reading to their pets. Pets are non-judgemental and will probably like the attention of a kid reading to them.
posted by parakeetdog at 10:10 PM on October 3, 2010

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