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.
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.
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."