July 9, 2008

New DI Program: Differentiated Reading

A new DI fluency building program, Differentiated Reading (PDF), was released today and is intended to be used with low performers who are reading at low fluency rates (less than 45 words a minute). The program is directed to children with whom simple fluency procedures have not proven to be effective. The program will be published commercially before the end of the year by SRA.

The article I linked to entitled Improving the Reading Rate of
Low Performers
and is loaded with insights regarding the teaching of lower performers.

The frustration of slow readers

Trying to improve the reading rate of very low performers can be a frustrating experience for both learner and teacher. The learner typically knows that the goal is to read faster, without making a flurry of mistakes, and the learner tries, but the added effort most frequently leads to word guessing, word skipping, word stuttering, and to greatly increased physical signs of high energy, such as clenching their fists, taking deep breaths, and even sweating. The student knows how to try hard physically and thatʼs what he does. But it doesnʼt work for reading faster.


What Teachers Observe

The teacher may also notice that the studentʼs performance is not predictable from one day to the next. The typical pattern is for the learner to perform “better” on one day, and be very happy with his performance and the praise the teacher issues, but almost certainly, he reverts to his old habits on the next day and does poorly.

The teacher often concludes from observations that whatever it is that causes improvement is there one day and gone the next. The bottom-line conclusion is that something is wrong with the learnerʼs learning mechanisms.

This conclusion is thoughtful and comes after the teacher has tried
different approaches for improving rate-accuracy.


The Basic Rule

Teachers need an approach that permits students to show them through their reading behavior how much and how fast they can improve. The basic rule is that if students are properly motivated to read faster and donʼt, the reason is they canʼt.


Students Respond Logically

We donʼt want the task of learning to read a little faster to become an effort like Sisyphus trying to roll the rock out of the pit but never succeeding. This step is built around the fact that students respond to data. They are realistic. They know when they are failing and when they are progressing. If they receive good evidence they are doing well, and meeting reasonable expectations, they will keep trying and persist when they regress or when the material they read becomes a little more difficult.

If they canʼt see evidence of progress, they will tend to draw a conclusion we donʼt want them to draw—“I am a failure; I canʼt do it.”


The article describes the new program in detail and can be used by classroom teachers now, so there's no need to wait to use it.

5 comments:

Kathy said...

These reading stories do not ring true for me. I have been doing reading tutoring with kdg and first graders for the last 8 years or so. If you use an instructional tool that is transparent you know exactly what the child can and cannot do. I have no idea how a child can do well one day and not the next and the teacher not know why.

Going to fluency for each child involves learning the alphabetic code and sounding out all the words to knowing the alphabetic code and sounding out very few words. Expression slowly develops as the child gains code knowledge.

This is not usually something that happens one day and not the next. It is a process that develops along a continuum. If instruction is transparent you know exactly where your student is on the continuum.

As for slow readers I rarely see them. Maybe this is something that is a problem in upper grades.

Speed is something that takes care of itself as the child moves along the continuum of learning code which in turn allows expression to develop. Kids get faster at reading as they are learning.

I don't see speed as the issue. Fluency is the issue. For me that means the child is not sounding out of words( perfect code knowledge) and uses expression. I may want the child to vary speed with the complexity of the text just as we adults do when we read.

I have had only two students who had trouble with speed. They were siblings. They read slowly, talked slowly and their thinking process was slow. I am not sure speeding them up would be a good thing or not.

What is purpose of reading fast? I had one student who came to me for tutoring who read very fast but made all kinds of errors. We worked on code knowledge. Her speed was useless.

If a child is accurate, comprehends, uses expression, varies speed when needed what is the problem?

And as stated in the post, if a child speeds up and makes all kinds of errors, well that child needs code work, not a timer.

Maybe others have different experiences with teaching kids to read but these stories do not match what I see with kids learning to read.

Kathy

Tracy W said...

If you use an instructional tool that is transparent you know exactly what the child can and cannot do. I have no idea how a child can do well one day and not the next and the teacher not know why.

Making like a totally wild guess, I would speculate that if a teacher doesn't know why it may be because the teacher isn't using a transparent instructional tool.

Speed is something that takes care of itself as the child moves along the continuum of learning code which in turn allows expression to develop. Kids get faster at reading as they are learning.

And if they don't get faster as they learn?

If a child is accurate, comprehends, uses expression, varies speed when needed what is the problem?

They can't cover as much material as if they could read with the same accuracy level faster.

It's not the world's largest problem, but once the child is accurate, comprehends, uses expression, varies speed when needed, then it makes sense to look at speed.

I've taken a speed reading course -it's useful for when I want to skim material. Of course there are other things in education that are more important, but that doesn't mean that reading fast is therefore totally unimportant.

Robert said...

I think I am missing a piece of the story here... What the heck do the students do with the points?

Maybe they should break down reading into levels and when enough points are accumulated the student would here a nice resonating ding sound.

Anonymous said...

Kathy: "As for slow readers I rarely see them. Maybe this is something that is a problem in upper grades. "

Me: My son is a rising 5th grader and is having significant problems with fluency. However, it was clear to me by kindergarten that he was going to have difficulties with reading. He was tested at age 6 and found to have problems with Rapid Automatic Naming, and we were told to expect problems with fluency, and as a result, comprehension, as time went on. The public school completely blew off my concerns, so we transferred him to a private school that specialized in Orton-Gillingham, where he made slow, but definite, progress. After 2 years of that, he went back to public school. He struggled with reading in that environment and they pulled him out each day to go to the reading specialist. His progress ground to a halt, and we pulled him out this past year to homeschool him. He is again making slow, but steady progress.


It may not be obvious in K-1, but kids with RAN problems are likely going to have big problems with fluency later on.

From http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4468

"Pat Bowers and I have studied a way to detect children who will develop reading fluency problems before they ever learn to read. We have found that children who have early slowed naming speed problems (e.g., on Rapid Automatized Naming, Denckla & Rudel, 1976; and Rapid Alternating Stimulus tests, Wolf, 1986; Wolf & Denckla, in press) often go on to become children with later fluency and comprehension problems (Wolf & Bowers, 1999). The naming speed tasks are very simple and only require the child to name a number of visual symbols (like letters or color or objects) as fast as they can. We have found that a majority of children with developmental reading disabilities have significant weaknesses in naming speed from kindergarten on and that they go on to develop problems in reading fluency and comprehension."



Kathy:"If a child is accurate, comprehends, uses expression, varies speed when needed what is the problem?"

Fluency is not the same as speed, but a child who reads grade level text very slowly probably doesn't have the automaticity he needs to be able to comprehend what he's reading. There is an excellent interview with Maryanne Wolf at http://www.childrenofthecode.org/interviews/wolf.htm where she discusses the importance of fluency for comprehension.

In her book Proust and the Squid, she writes
“In its beginning, reading fluency is the product of the initial development of accuracy and the subsequent development of automaticity in underlying sublexical processes, lexical processes, and their integration in single-word reading and connected text. These include perceptual, phonological, orthographic, and morphological processes at the letter, letter-pattern, and word levels, as well as sementic and syntactic processes at the word level and connected-text level. After it is fully developed, reading fluency refers to a level of accuracy and rate at which decoding is relatively effortless, oral reading is smooth and accurate with correct prosody, and attention can be allocated to comprehension .” (page 268)

James T. said...

This speed reading program has been certified by the No Child Left Behind program. It's currently being used in several Arizona schools.