Sunday, September 5, 2010


Turning around an entire school in just 20 days is possible!

Teaching every child in your school to read in twenty days is not only radical
but saves thousands in program cost. Turning the reading establishment on its
head and saving a lost generation is a radical idea. Spending education budgets
on great literature for students, instead of reading software, basal readers, 
reading intervention programs, and teacher in-service training is a radical idea.

Insuring that all students have a real future is just a pipe dream if we stay on 
this path of chasing reading rainbows. Teaching ten years in high-poverty 
schools, with over 85% of the students at risk, has taught me we have lost 
our way and the establishment is broken. We buy into every program that
comes down the pike promising success, yet here we are failing our most 
needy students. Putting great literature, poetry, and books in children’s hands
is the foundation of Reading Boot Camp, not predigested workbooks, endless 
teacher-made work sheets, and needless teacher made busy work. Reading 
Boot Camp is back to basics with a sledge hammer to the outsider. 
Students find it rewarding and fantastic!

Why Not Try Something New

Giving students books that are three or four years above grade level may seem
counterintuitive to what you have been taught yet students know the words in
auditory memory. Most students come to school with almost 2,000-5,000 
words in auditory memory. By intermediate grades they have 5,000-10,000 
words in auditory memory. Learning 2,000 words in 20 days seems to be 
virtually impossible until make connections between auditory memory and 
words on the page. The see and say method from the 19th century holds true 
today. Reading Boot Camp all reading activities are reinforced with auditory 
cues from the teacher, students, or audio books. They just need to practice and
practice decoding them and hearing them. We focus on all aspects of good 
reading skills but always in the context of great literature.

Building on Fairy Tales, Fables, and Classic Children’s Literature Students get 
board very easy and finding literature that keeps them coming back for more
is a challenge. Stories like the girl with no hands perks up even the most ardent
critic of reading and books. Reading Boot Camp is more than rote decoding 
drills, word analysis, comprehension, reading strategies, vocabulary, word 
attack, and journal writing. It’s giving students a profound foundation in 
wonderful classic literature. Students read Aesop’s Fables, The Brothers 
Grimm, The Blue Fairy Book, Alice In Wonderland, and even Chinese Proverbs.
Students that still turn their nose up at even the best literature are given
individualized fairytales. I take a classic fairytale and personalize the stories just 
for them. I always pick one that is very tough to get the most out of the reading.

Learning Vocabulary Indirectly Children learn the meaning of most words 
indirectly, through everyday experiences with oral and written language--e.g., 
through conversations with adults, through being read to, and through reading
extensively on their own. Students learn language by listening and making 
connections and struggling readers need those audio cues even more. 
Struggling students sitting silently with a book will get very little out of the 
experience without the auditory component. Students always have the 
ability to listen to a model reading. When I read, the students read, or the 
computer reads, students always have the text in front of them. Learning 
Vocabulary Directly Children learn vocabulary directly when they are
explicitly taught both individual words and word-learning strategies through 
reading engaging literature. Reading Boot Camp is designed to build 
automaticity of the 2000 most-used, written words in English. Fluency 
drills and accuracy drills reinforce the connections to word meanings the 
students already possess in auditory memory.


1 comment:

  1. I believe you're right and I need help for my children. I am in a situation where their teachers and principal has just told me that we need to sign papers to hold the girls back. And they do not want them to take the end of the year assessment test. They are using SuccessMaker at the school. I am going to do something radical to change their literacy. What do you suggest.


Thank you!