Learn to Read, Read to Learn ~
With Neighborhood Connections

Overview The transition from elementary to middle school is especially difficult for students at risk because of reading and language disabilities. It not only involves changing classes and leaving familiar turf during mid-adolescence; but it also involves transitioning from Learning to Read to Reading to Learn. Students who maintain neighborhood connections as they move from elementary to middle school have a wider support community. This project focuses on structured, sequential, multi-sensory reading remediation using rule-based reading software scaffolded by reading to younger children in the neighborhood elementary school. Creating a computer slide show and an Outstanding Readers calendar exposes students to new technology and allows them to reflect on their experience as older Reading Buddies. Lexia Strategies for Older Students (SOS) software provides context for students and teacher. For students, it includes follow-up practice after learning letter-sound combinations; for teacher, it offers continuous assessment to guide the remediation process.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Email Reading Buddies invitations to younger students at nearby elementary school.
Practice new decoding skills by using Lexia Strategies for Older Students software.
Search books on Internet.
Improve reading fluency by practice reading selected books.
Describe project with a computer slide show (or download, 2.07 MB).
Create an Outstanding Readers calendar (or download, 4.43 MB) based on Dyslexia Society's model.
Invite Buddies to schoolwide learning festival.
Arrange schedule for regular reading sessions.
Visit school & identify students' interests by asking questions & recording responses.
Read to buddies.
Ask buddies to respond with pictures & written comments.
Model successful decoding & behavioral strategies.
Present computer slide show & calendar at learning festival to buddies & visitors.
Establish school as work site by brainstorming list of social skills & behavioral rules.
Re-establish contact with former teachers & recall their promising practices.
Reflect on teaching roles in guided journals & discuss key questions about responsibilities.
Use responses for slide show text & calendar.
Research Famous People with the Gift of Dyslexia.

Learning Standards English Language Art

Utilize technology to complete & enhance work.
Utilize different strategies to decode accurately.
Recognize how to utilize basic organizing structures.
Participate in cooperative activities & formal & informal classroom discussions.
Analyze, interpret, & evaluate literature.
Connect reading with own & others' experiences.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication & Literacy Skills.
Solve Problems.
Use Technology.
Complete Entire Activities.
Act Professionally.
Interact with Others.
Take responsibility for choices, learning on an ongoing basis.

Assessment Student journals receive oral and written feedback; student-created slide show and calendar are evaluated by other students and staff in response groups and teacher conferences; Lexia Quick Reading Tests assess decoding progress that is recorded in a before/after graphic organizer (or download, 2.28 MB).

Software or Materials Used Lexia Strategies for Older Students (SOS) decoding software, produced by Lexia Learning Systems, Inc. 2 Lewis St. P.O.Box 466, Lincoln, MA 01773; Telian Multisensory Mnemonic Letter Card Program by Nancy Telian, Telian Learning Concepts, P.O.Box 453 Stoughton, MA 02072; Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease 1995: Penguin Books; for a book on a friend helping a boy with learning problems: Yellow Bird and Me by Helen Hensen 1991: Clarion Books; assorted children's picture books; journals; drawing supplies; Model of the Dyslexia Society's Outstanding Dyslexics calendar. Los Angeles Branch of the International Dyslexia Assn., 4379 Tujurga Av. Studio City CA 91604.

Web Sites The International Dyslexia Association Web Site; The International Dyslexia Association Kids Only Web Site; Newbury Medallists; Caldecott Medallists

Keywords Service Learning, School to Career, Dyslexia, decoding, mentoring, Read Aloud, rule-based reading, multi-sensory curriculum, transition from elementary school to middle school

Final Words Community connections, empowerment from successful learning, having role models and having responsibilities are conditions for self-esteem. These conditions motivate middle schoolers to visualize life goals and to work through learning differences.

Teacher Tip It's exciting to watch students gain self-awareness and confidence when they assume responsibility. One of my bilingual students who "hates" reading translated the text for his younger bilingual buddies. Likewise, one of my behaviorally challenged students was overheard counseling his younger wiggly buddy. Later, he explained to me, "I tried to give him advice by telling about my own experiences."

E-mail contact

Teacher Bio
Nancy Williams, a speech-language therapist and certified reading teacher at Irving Middle School, has taught early intervention to elementary, and middle school students with special needs for 20 years in northern Maine, New Mexico, and now Boston. An elementary resource room teacher who wanted to discover more about her students' language needs, Nancy returned to Boston in 1995 to study speech, language, and reading. Two years later, she began working in the Boston Public Schools where she practices her area of special interest - teaching reading and written language to dyslexic students.

Subject Areas
English Language Arts

Grade Levels
Partnerships between Middle School & Elementary School students

English-speaking & bilingual special needs students

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