Recap from Part I-my district has purchased two new reading interventions (LLI and Wilson Fundations), in elementary school I was an awful speller and had a difficult time decoding multisyllabic words, making me the reason why my classmates didn’t get popcorn on Friday or extra recess because I rarely (like never) got a 100% on my Wednesday pretest or Friday final test.
Now onto Part II
So you might be wondering how all the above is related to the title…
Like stated earlier, I had a real spelling problem in elementary. I also was placed in Title reading every-other-year from 2-5 grade. Why was I placed in Title reading? Because placement in Title in that district was based on the CAT (California Achievement Test) results. I guess you could also say I wasn’t really great at standardized test. I loved to read, I read a lot and lived in a home filled with books. There was just something about the CAT that had me doubting and second guessing myself on all the reading comprehension questions. Because the district I lived in only gave the CAT every-other-year, I was placed in Title every-other-year.
When the Title teacher would pull us to go work in her little room, the work we did was on reading comprehension, as much as I can remember. We would read aloud a text, mostly in round robin style, and then answer questions orally and in a workbook. At the end of the school year the Title teacher would recommend that I not receive Title the following year because I could discuss the text we read and I could answer the questions. My reading problem wasn’t comprehension based but because the district I grew-up in only had a comprehension based intervention that’s what I received.
Fast forward 30 years and now I’m the Reading Specialist deciding what intervention to use on which kids. I know some of the classroom teachers in my building are very excited about the new interventions we have and some of stated they would like all the students we pull from them to receive a certain intervention. I think it is great that the teachers in my building are knowledgable enough to know the difference in the interventions and to want their students to receive the same experience. But, then I think about my time with the reading teacher and how she only used one intervention. That intervention didn’t work for me. She, and I, would have been better off if she went back, checked to make sure I had mastered all levels of phonemic awareness and then had a systematic way of teaching me phonics. That would have been more helpful.
Soon I will have to have the conversation with teachers who only want a certain intervention. I know exactly how I’m going to start that conversation. “I think it’s great that you want your students to experience this great program but I want to share something with you. I’m the reason that’s not a good idea. I’m the reason we’re going to look at what the students are missing that is keeping them from becoming fluent readers. Not all students need a comprehension based intervention. Maybe they’re missing an understanding of the alphabetic principle and need more systematic phonics.” I will continue to say that I’m the reason we’re doing this because I don’t want one of those students, thirty years from now, writing a blog post similar to this one.