My own experience as a striving reader provides me with insight and a deep understanding of how students feel and what they are experiencing as they grapple with text, comprehension, and confidence- Oh My! Though I am an avid reader today, I have made sure not to forget and always remember to take that real-world connection into every coaching visit when supporting reading and ELA teachers. Probably my deepest raw emotion is evoked when I recall my reading challenges at the age of 13. I entered the seventh grade knowing reading was not easy for me. I was reading on a second-grade level, many years behind my peers. With hard work, practice, and the devoted attention of a caring teacher, I was able to read above grade level within two years.
Today, I am truly proud to have the opportunity to work with teachers who are implementing System 44 to help their students learn the critical components of phonics, phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, and accuracy. In my role, I visit many classrooms and work side-by-side with teachers. I listen to what the teachers and students are contending with and we discuss specific explicit instruction, guided practice, or conferencing topics to meet specific needs. We know it is important for teachers to be able to modify lessons to meet their students' needs and put some of their own creativity to make the lessons come to life and achieve the learning goal.
One of my favorite components available is the Decodable Digest, a resource that can elevate any lessons and be individualized for independent reading.
Accessing the Decodable Digest through the Interactive Teaching System (ITS) allows the teacher to utilize the specific pages pertaining to the lessons found in the Resources for Differentiated Instruction, RDI, book. Within these lessons, the Decodable Digest readings are often placed in Step 4 of the lesson under the "Apply & Reinforce" section.
The beauty of using the pages provided in the RDI lessons is that it is aligned to the same lesson the students are working on in the software. Within the RDI book, the Decodable Digest relevant readings are placed, as a pdf, within the lesson so that it is easy for the teacher to download to display or print.
Another way students can work with the Decodable Digest passages is by working collaboratively with a partner to practice reading with fluency. Since the passages align with where they are within the software, students obtain additional practice of reading aloud a purely decodable text. This strategy reinforces the phonics that they learned in context.
The Decodable Digest pages align to the Software Topics allowing the subject to increase in rigor as students progress through the scope and sequence. Each page varies in text-style; therefore, they have opportunities for teachers to extend instruction to comprehension and students to interact with the text as well as each other.
The blue bar, at the top right corner of the page, indicates which Software Connection it is. The example to the left is Software Connection 3.5. This page shows there are two passages (1 and 2) connecting to the Software. The yellow arrow, at the bottom, highlights questions teachers can utilize to encourage discussion and comprehension. As shared previously, the rigor increases as the student moves forward in the Software.
An additional way to incorporate these fluency pages is by printing them for students to take home and practice reading to their family. Teachers can have students practice fluent reading in class, using the Decodable Digest associated to where they are in the software, and read it to multiple people after school as an extension activity. This would provide another opportunity for practice and fluency to further develop. By providing each student his/her own Decodable Digest page, teachers are differentiating for each student, while keeping the resource and expectation similar.
Once teachers print the pages for students, the resource can be used as an interactive text encouraging students to underline or highlight the phonics focus of the passage. Teachers are able to extend the lesson to have students annotate the text by circling unknown words, place question marks next to items they are confused about, and write their thoughts or connections in the margins. The most important concept to connect to is the Decodable Digest has numerous ways in which it can be used with students.
I have been able to share a few ideas where students and teachers can interact with the Decodable Digest. I encourage you to share your suggestions and strategies using this resource. Supporting our most striving readers takes a village approach, and as a former challenged reader, I appreciated my personal village and think of them often.
Decodable Digest page reinforcing skills learned in Topic 20.1
Jessica has served in public education as both teacher and administrator in the areas of English Language Arts and ENL/ESL in both Washington State and New York. She has a background in Balanced Literacy, Data Analysis, Creating Curriculum and supporting teachers within the classroom. For the past 8 years, has been helping struggling readers make gains by utilizing the data from R180 and System 44 to target the coaching.