Archive for the ‘Reading Fluency’ Category

RTI (Response to Intervention) A Complete Apple Workflow

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Thank you to those of you who attended my workshop, “RTI:  A Complete Apple Workflow” at the CUE conference this weekend.   I spoke about using Apple Software to address your Response to Intervention program.  This post contains the links, resources, and ideas that I shared.  Rather than simply posting the keynote file (which is much easier) I prefer to recap and flush out some of the ideas so that it’s beneficial even to those who weren’t there.

What is RTI?

As I define it, rather than simply teaching everyone the same thing and assuming that if someone doesn’t “get it” that there’s something wrong with them, RTI assumes that there will be students who do not master a concept after whole group instruction and will need additional time and intensity (interventions) to master concepts.  This, of course, is very similar to the idea of Independent Work Time.

Alice Mercer, in her CUE presentation, also addressed RTI and went into additional detail in defining it.

Part One:  Dealing with Data

It’s very important to collect and analyze data in order to target interventions to specific student need.  “Fluency” is to vague to be an intervention.  Focusing on short vowels, long vowels, or digraphs is a better intervention because it targets a specific student need.  Using Apple’s iWork (Pages and Numbers) or even Microsoft Word’s (Office and Excel) can help you to organize data by creating a spreadsheet, graphing data, and using the word processor’s mail merge functions to create parent reports about student data.  I much prefer iWork to Office because of its ease of use and the ability to create better looking documents.

Here’s additional information on graphing in Numbers and how to use the mail merge function.  I taught both these things in the workshop.

Part Two:  Prescriptions for Success ways of using Apple technology to address student needs




While behavior tracking software is popular among schools with large behavior problems.  I saw office referrals eliminated in my classroom simply through working on these movie projects.  I gave the example of Joseph, a student who I knew would not be quiet if I was to call “Quiet on the Set.”  Instead of playing through that scenario and getting annoyed at Joseph ruining other students’ projects, I decided to make Joseph the engineer.  He called out “Quiet on the Set!” and he pushed the red Garageband button.  The rest of the class was dead quiet and Joseph experienced being a successful and productive member of our class rather than being the one who wrecked everything.  This is a behavioral intervention…intervening to improve student behavior rather than punishing students for bad behavior.


Here are two slides that show some evidence that these techniques are producing gains although I am the first to admit that we need to continue collecting data on the subject.

In my classroom, I saw an 18% increase in the number of students reading at benchmark 12 weeks after working on the Reader’s Theater script, The City Mouse and the Country Mouse:

In Escondido Unified, they saw average gains of about 40 words per minute after six weeks of reading with iPods whereas normal gains are about 10 words per minute:


Here are some incidental things I mentioned in my presentation.

HandBrake for ripping movies from commercial DVDs  you own for storing on iPod.

PWN Youtube and other ways of downloading Youtube movies.


Down and Dirty Data Analysis

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Green is good.  Red is bad.

Here’s what they taught me in “coaching college” about how to read data.

Reading vertically indicates the teacher’s problem.  Reading horizontally indicates a student’s problem.

So, Harpo needs some additional help in all language arts areas.  However, in the vocabulary category, it appears that the teacher needs to examine his/her own instruction as its not succeeding for most of the students.  There’s all kinds of reasons why the teacher could say the students aren’t succeeding and there is validity to all of them…no help at home, trouble learning the language, poorly designed tests, a bad day in class.  This class in particular I hear is a bunch of class clowns.  However, the fact remains that the teacher’s vocabulary instruction with this group of students is not working and if he/she wants better results he/she must try something different.

Literacy Links for Parents

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Here are some resources to help elementary school parents support their children in learning to read at home.  Please feel free to use if this is of use to you:

Links for Parents
(for any reading series)

Links for Parents Using Open Court Reading
page 1page 2

Riddle Me This: Activity for Sound Spelling Cards

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

a guest post on using the Sound Spelling Cards by Ann Miani

Dear Teachers,
I wanted to share a life changing teaching strategy for OCR phonics.  You can print out the Sound Spelling Card mats (see links):

Link #1

Link #2

There are some cool new versions of the large long vowel cards to print out, but they would have to be run on long sheets of paper 14 inches or so.

Green Box cards are named (all short vowel sounds)
lamb, hen, pig, fox, and tugboat.

The blue box cards are diphthongs/diagraphs titled in order
armadillo, whale, (bird card er,ir,ur,) cow card, hawk card, hoot owl card (this may be the goo card in another version,) foot card, and toy/coil card depending on which version you have.

Here is an example of how to give spelling quizzes using this SSC mat
For the technique Riddle Me This, I say these out loud while the kids write the letters that go with the cards.
1.Dinosaur card(kids would write the letter d)
2.Long I
3.Nose card (n sound)
4.Long O card (they are taught to assume it is the first spelling unless otherwise indicated)
5.Sausages (s sound)
6 Hawk Card (second spelling = au)
7.Robot card r sound (when I don’t specify which spelling on the card again the kids assume it is the first spelling on that card)

I repeat each of the letter cards in the word, while they touch each letter sound on their papers to check to see that they haven’t left any out.  Then I ask them what did I spell?  They all call out with glee and a feeling of success that they hadn’t felt until I used this technique dinosaur!

Use this with your word knowledge boards if you wish.  I give the kids 12 – 20 words per day that come from their weekly reading passages in the text and they seem to really get very large words now.  What a relief to see them spelling, reading and now writing with far more enthusiasm and success!

Before using this concept, the kids struggled with 3 to 5 letter words with both long and short vowel sounds.  Now they are spelling, reading, and writing 10-12 letter words without help.  This happened in just a month and a half.

They wrote essays this week and nobody balked about having to explain why they felt the dinosaurs died out.  They were able to justify their reasons behind their theories based in the NF story they read this week.  Only 3 out of 20 kids (who were ELD) struggled with the actual theories behind the extinction of dinosaurs.  This is a far cry from January!

I hope this helps you as much as it helped my class. Up till the time I started using this, my class was the lowest on record and the majority of them were failing.

-Ann Miani

Read Across America Day Resources

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Dr. Seuss’s birthday, called Read Across America Day is coming next week.  Here are some activities to do for it…(by way of Doug Yonce’s newsletter.  Subscribe to his newsletter here).

NEA – Read Across America
The National Education Association annually sponsors Read Across America. Now in its twelfth year, the program focuses on motivating children to read

Seussville Read Across America
READ ACROSS AMERICA. “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” What better way to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday

Read Across America Games and Activities
A collection of activities for Dr. Seuss in celebration of Read Across America, a national reading day/week promotion

Education World: Special Reading Fun for Read Across America Day
Read Across America Day is celebrated each year on the first Monday in March. Education World offers five new lessons for recognizing this important day

Read Across America | CTA
The theme for Read Across America 2009 is “Reading is Cool!” Serving up some frosty fun for your reading delight are playful snow people created by award-winning illustrator Will Terry.

Reading Rockets Read Across America Page

Downloadable Dr. Seuss Books

Additional Dr. Seuss Resources