February 6, 2009

Today's Video


Conversation with Zig Engelmann (2008) from Zig Engelmann on Vimeo.

10 comments:

Kathy said...

Question about DI:

If the DI reading model is completely scripted do you really need teachers to do the teaching? Why not hire any HS grad, train them, and save a ton of money?

KDeRosa said...

Yes, you do, although I don't think that education school graduates bring much extra to the table.

The thing is that students make errors and those errors need to be identified and remedied. This takes considerable skill. And the script frees up the teacher to do this, but it still needs to be done. Also, the teacher needs to determine when additional review or teaching is needed for each student. So, yes, important decisions still need to be made and it takes a skilled teacher to make them.

Kathy said...

Since I have never seen DI in action except for a short movie, I think posted on this site, I have little knowledge of the daily teaching. I am only commenting on what I viewed in the video.

According to Zig there is little being taught in education college courses that is useful to reading instruction. What skills are teachers bringing to the DI instruction that are not covered in the training? What have they learned in college about how to determine needed review in a DI reading program?

I would assume the program would have tests to determine needed review and have scripts for review teaching.

Based on my years of experience trying to train teachers to use an explicit reading program, untrained HS grads would have been easier to train. Zig's example of the powerful 3rd teacher rang true as did his comments on having the principal and one higher ranking administrator on board with the program.

I have an aide who now does most of the tutoring for my program. She is the best teacher I have ever seen and she has no education college credits. She has been the easiest to train as she had no preconceived ideas about what reading is or is not.

KDeRosa said...

Here are some videos on the very beginning stages of DI reading instruction. And a few more DI videos are here.

You're right that there is little
useful info being taught in ed school related to DI. But, there's still a need for a skilled person (teacher) to teach the lessons, especially to lower performers. You could probably pull anyone off the street with a high school diploma and some classroom skills.

I would assume the program would have tests to determine needed review and have scripts for review teaching.

Yes, but there is still the need for determining/interpreting the results/feedback and when to do what and how much/how long. The videos show some of this.

Your observations are consistent with what Zig has said/written about using aides for instruction.

palisadesk said...

ADI has -- or had -- a handbook for training high school students to use Corrective Reading for peer tutoring -- I believe in a one-to-one or one-to-two situation. I don't know how widespread this might be.

While the DI scripts are a key component, they are only a tool. Teaching DI well is a very complex skill set, not easily or quickly learned. Recently I went to a local weekend DI gathering where people shared tips and strategies. Several trainers told me that, in general, it takes five years to become a skilled DI teacher, and ten years to become really proficient. When you see a really good DI teacher in action, you would never know s/he was using a script. It's a very fast-paced, highly individualized presentation (the teacher is aware of the specific skill sets and needs of every student in the group) that looks effortless but is the outcome of years of practice, coaching and mentoring.

Not everyone can teach DI well. You need to have a very good memory (to learn all the permutations of the script). Unlike a drama script, there are numerous embedded if-then loops. If the students make this error, you go back to section 2, step 4.If they make that error, you repeat the current track's exercise. Signaling, pacing and error correction have to be practiced over and over to the point of automaticity -- and that's not easy. You need good timing and co-ordination and must be energetic and "on" the entire time. The students should be actively responding 10-15 times per minute. If you have a large group, you need to be standing and walking around, keeping all the students focused and with you as you monitor their written responses (if appropriate).

What the script does is free you from the necessity of thinking of what material to present and how, and allow you to focus on the behavior of the students and note their specific needs and challenges. This is what you need to observe in order to provide appropriate supplementary practice (for some) or enrichment or an accelerated pace (for others).

The most difficult thing for many people is to resist the urge to insert their own explanations or elaborations. The parsimonious wording in the scripts has been extensively field-tested, revised on a regular basis following experimental data in the field and controlled trials, and determined to be (so far) the least confusing, most efficient way to present the concepts or skills. Many children, especially challenged ones, drown in the sea of babble-babble that they hear in the classroom. DI scripts keep all communication short, to the point, and immediately applied or used by the students in some way. When I first started using programs like Corrective Reading I didn't see how the separate tracks/strands wove together and ultimately produced sophisticated and advanced skills (including "higher order reasoning") but they do.

Effective DI implementations are probably rare not only because DI is unpopular but because of the expenses entailed. For teachers to implement the programs well would require a great deal of investment in mentoring and coaching over a period of years (Gering, Rockford and other districts that had noticeable success with DI went this route). Very few become proficient just by being handed a box of DI materials or sent to a one-day workshop. Although I have used DI programs off and on for many years, I would rate my own skills as low average precisely because I haven't had the benefit of training and coaching. I've practiced in front of a mirror, used student progress and responses to gauge my success, and watched videos and worked with peers to improve component skills like signaling and pacing. I think many people might be able to use DI well in a tutoring situation, but to teach groups effectively requires a much broader skill set. Integrating the DI with the rest of the curriculum also requires a teacher with a lot of knowledge of student needs, resources available, and local curriculum expectations.

DI is popular with homeschoolers, and I have communicated with many who were successful using the programs with their own children without benefit of any training beyond what videos they could find online and support from the DI listserv or other users.

Stacy in NJ said...

"DI is popular with homeschoolers, and I have communicated with many who were successful using the programs with their own children without benefit of any training beyond what videos they could find online and support from the DI listserv or other users."

I homeschool my two sons and use DI curriculum.

The trick to using it successfully at home is all in the pacing and assessment of the kids response. The first time you teach a new skill it is vitally important to assess their understanding immediately. Their first response tells you whether they've
got it or not. If they don't have it, you need to stop, reteach, assess and then firm. Obviously it's much easier to assess one students understand than it is to assess a larger group of say 10 or 12 kids. I think that's why like ability grouping is so important in DI.

We cut SOME of the repetitions in lessons when I know my son is firm and added in or back-track when he needs to.

I've used levels 2-5 of Reading Mastery Plus, levels B-E of Reasoning and Writing, levels C-F of Connecting Math Concepts and levels B-E of Spelling Mastery.

The 3rd or 4th grade levels are the best. Reading Mastery 4 is genius. They've incorporated much of the standard science requirements within the last 40 lessons, or so. My son learned all about the solar system, the states of matter, the human body via these reading lessons ~ content within reading lessons. It teaches vocabulary explicitly as well.

The Reasoning and Writing level C program teaches sentence contruction, mechanics (apostophy usage, capitalization, direct quotes) and then narrative paragraph construction. Again, rather genius. If a kid masters level C, there's no writing program out there that they aren't able to manage. Level D focuses on persuasive arguments and fallacies.

I would have loved some training, but really the learning is in the doing. After you understand that moving forward in any lesson is pointless if the kid isn't firm on the material already taught, it's all good.

Kathy said...

Palisadesk states:

"Effective DI implementations are probably rare not only because DI is unpopular but because of the expenses entailed."

This sums up the problem with DI and most explicit reading programs. The educators HATE them. Training teachers after they are supposedly trained in college is difficult at best.

We need a plan B. We need something that teaches kids to read, educators like it and it can be learned in teacher ed courses while in college. I have no idea how to accomplish this but if after 30 years you are still at square one, something is wrong.

Mr. McNamar said...

I am implementing Corrective Reading Levels B2 and C at a high school. Yes, they could save money by have a well-trained paraprofessional read the script. It would depend on the school. Our school has a multitude of behavioral issues and that is where strong classroom management experience matters.
And even then, after four lessons, I have yet to move through an entire lesson in one 56 minute period.
Some of my students purposely mess up to make the class laugh; some of my students refuse to participate or ask why they have to do "third grade shit;" some of my students can't answer 8 workbook questions in under 30 minutes even though the rest of the class finishes in 10 minutes.

The videos that exist mostly focus on elementary schools; and if they do look at a high school setting, it is obvious the students have been doing the program a while (I'd also add that those videos are not flies on the walls. I rarely trust a set-up, pre-arranged camera visit to give the most accurate depiction.)
Though Ken and I have debated the effectiveness of the DI program before, I am willing to do my best to make it work. Unlike Rush Limbaugh's view of Obama, I don't hope for failure. But at this early stage, I've yet to be convinced. We'll wait for the data and the cross-refrencing to Lexile score improvement and ultimately state reading test scores.

Dick Schutz said...

"We'll wait for the data and the cross-refrencing to Lexile score improvement and ultimately state reading test scores."

Those are both insensitive indicators, Mac. If you expect to identify any instructional accomplishments, you're going to have to look for something that more closely matches what CR is teaching. I know that these "data" are likely "mandated," but that doesn't make them any more appropriate.

Four lessons are just a beginning, but from what you say, it's not an auspicious start. The kids have to do the learning, and a good number of them seem to have ruled out that possibility.

Given the circumstances you describe, you don't need a test. There just aint going to be much learning going on. And if you only have until the end of the school year to do the "correction" it aint in the cards.

If you're the only teacher in the school that's on board with CR, it's a gross mismatch for both you and CR.

I know you "just work there," but the contingencies aren't fair for either you or CR.

Kathy said...

Mr. McNamar states:

" Some of my students purposely mess up to make the class laugh; some of my students refuse to participate or ask why they have to do "third grade shit;"

The students seem to understand just fine the stupidity of what is happening to them. They should not have to learn to read in HS. This is simply insanity. And following scripts whether they work or not, would be insulting to me if I was in that situation.

There are easier ways to go about teaching kids to read, but that should not be your job and it must happen in grade school.

Maybe the HS teachers can force a change. Form some type of action group to force change in your elementary schools. Tell them you don't want to do their jobs anymore. Don't let them tell you the kids are learning disabled or dyslexic.

Kids in grade school can learn to read if taught properly. I do it everyday at my school with an aide and we don't use scripts. We have yet to have a kid not learn to read. Our only obstacle is the stupid balanced literacy the kids must endure in their classrooms after the tutoring in the pull out program.

I have yet to convince anyone in my school what they are doing is what I consider child abuse, but maybe HS teachers could show them the results of their methods. Most in el ed schools think things are working out just fine. Bring those HS students to the grades schools in your district and show them the results of BL.

And don't let them tell you the kids had awful parents or never did homework or were bad in class etc etc.

None of that matters in learning to read. Only the instruction matters.

I also watched the DI videos. I give you credit for trying as I could never in a million years teach with scripts so complicated you need to practice for years. I would have to transfer to another school or find a new occupation.