Mr. Edward's Program
Picture of Mr. Edwards and Mrs. Cleveland from McTeacher Night, 2008
Overview of Our Program:
Each of our special education students is an integral part of his or her regular classroom. Mrs. Cleveland assists our CT students (which stands for 'Consultant Teacher') when they are working in their classrooms. When it is time for reading groups, I bring a small group of students to our room to work on important foundational reading skills such as decoding, fluency, and comprehension.
What is DECODING?
When reading a word, sentence, or story, it's best to be able to look at a word and, without thinking about it, know what the word says and then move quickly onto the next word. But until it becomes automatic, students need to know how to recognize the sounds that are in a word, and then put those sounds together to create the word. This is decoding. The program I have found to be most effective for students who are in need of decoding strategies and practice is called the Orton-Gillingham program. Students who need to develop this skill receive Orton-Gillingham instruction from me every day as part of their reading instruction.
What is FLUENCY?
Fluency improves with better decoding, and with PRACTICE! Fluency is how smoothly you are able to read sentences and passages. The less time and effort it takes to read something, the more likely you will understand what you have read. It's great to see students' confidence go up as their fluency improves. One of the programs I use regularly to help students improve their fluency is called the Read Naturally Live program. It is a web-based program that allows each student to practice reading interesting and informative passages AT THEIR OWN LEVEL. Before going on to the next story, students must answer 5 questions about what they read, and read the story aloud to the teacher. It gives me the opportunity to provide helpful feedback and make adjustments to the difficulty level, if necessary.
What is COMPREHENSION?
Comprehension is how well you understand what you read. Careful decoding and better fluency lead to improved comprehension, but nothing beats reading a great story and following up with a small group discussion (and some writing, of course!) Reading and Writing... you can't have one without the other. So every day, as part of our time together, the students and I will read a story, usually from our Wildcats series. (They love the Wildcats series because the stories are all non-fiction and at a very high interest level... including topics such as how movie special effects are made, real creatures you'd have to see to believe, mummies, and extreme sports just to name a few.) After we talk about what we read, the students are given a follow-up question to respond to in their writing journals. Here, I'm able to work in some higher-level thinking. It's also another opportunity for the students to practice their decoding skills while they sound out the words they are trying to spell, and a chance for me to reinforce the use of capital letters, periods, etc.
Many students stay in their regular classrooms during math. Some receive Mrs. Cleveland's support in their classrooms during this time, and some receive mine (we try and alternate). But many times students need math support provided in a small group setting. The most common math concepts that I reinforce daily in a small group are Time, Money, Place Value and Word Problems. But in most cases, I try my best to work with the classroom teachers to stay on the same lessons that they are working on in class. It is likely the concepts will come up at other times throughout the school day and I want my students to be prepared! Even if they are with me for math and therefore not in class during the lesson, they are able to participate with their classmates as much as possible throughout the day.
In addition to teaching students how to grow as readers and writers, the top two priorities for my students are to foster independence, and to ensure their success within their classroom. I enjoy helping them use technology to their advantage, so I incorporate the use of computers whenever I think it would give them an edge. (Editing their written work, and using 'cutting edge' reading software for example!) I also like to participate with them within their classroom settings whenever my schedule allows. It helps me rate and improve my own teaching when I'm able to experience the students working within their grade-level curriculum. I also genuinely enjoy and am constantly learning from my amazing colleagues here at Como Park. It's a great place to be.