Program for Children
Children are selected for the program based on individual measures of assessment and teacher judgement. Their classroom literacy program is then supplemented with daily one-to-one lessons of thirty minutes. The program runs for twelve to twenty weeks with a specially trained teacher.
The lessons consist of a variety of reading and writing experiences designed to help children develop effective reading and writing strategies. The program continues until the child can read within or above the class average and has demonstrated the use of independent reading and writing strategies.
The remarkable progress made by children participating in the Reading Recovery Program demonstrates that high percentages of at-risk students can achieve success. The key to success is intervention with specialised teaching that will enable students to improve quickly before they are labelled as failures.
Essential to the success of the Program is the in service training for early years teachers. These experienced early years literacy teachers participate in a year-long in service program conducted by a trained Reading Recovery Tutor.
The year-long program integrates theory and practice and is characterised by intensive interaction with colleagues. Following this training year, teachers continue their specialised professional development through ongoing interaction with their colleagues and instructors.
Reading Recovery teachers in training become literacy specialists developing keen observational skills and a repertoire of intervention strategies that can be adapted to meet the individual needs of at-risk students.
The Reading Recovery Lesson
During the Reading Recovery lesson, students are involved in authentic reading and writing tasks. The Reading Recovery teacher demonstrates and teaches for problem-solving strategies and supports the student to develop effective reading and writing processing.
Each lesson includes the following
- Reading familiar texts
- Re-reading a text that was read for the first time the day before
- Working with letters and/or words
- Writing a story
- Assembling a cut up story
- Reading a new book that will be read independently the next day.
The goal of the Reading Recovery Program is accelerated learning. Each student is expected to make faster-than-average progress so that he or she can catch up with other students in the class. Accelerated leaning is possible because Reading Recovery teachers base their instruction on carefully documented daily observations of what each student already knows about reading and writing. Instruction begins from the student’s strengths with the teacher not wasting time teaching anything that is already known. (Clay, 1993b). Students learn the strategies that good readers use when reading and writing.
Monitoring student progress
Students are closely observed in the classroom after their program ceases to ensure that they continue to use effective reading and writing strategies.
After leaving the program, each student’s progress is monitored fortnightly by the Reading Recovery teacher for one term. Careful long term monitoring of the students then becomes the responsibility of the class teacher who takes regular Running Records of the student’s reading.
Schools need to make contact with parents to explain Reading Recovery as something extra that the school is able to offer their child and to enlist their support. It is especially important for parents to be aware of the need for their child to attend school every day so they can receive daily instruction and that students take books home each night to read to their parents. Many parents respond positively to an invitation to observe lessons and to discuss their child’s literacy development.
Reading Recovery Program Implementation
The effective implementation of Reading Recovery requires a team approach. Teachers, in conjunction with the Principal and School Council, make a commitment to maintaining:
- the quality of the Reading Recovery Program as it operates within the school
- the underlying fundamental principles of the Reading Recovery Program, including daily teaching of children selected to participate in the Program
- shared responsibility in reducing reading failure within the school, by support from the whole school community
- support for the teacher during training and in subsequent years
- adequate researching to ensure effective implementation and operation of the Reading Recovery Program
- effectively monitoring of students once they have left the Reading Recovery Program. This may involve developing Individual Learning Improvement Plan
- consultation with parents and class teachers during the course of the Program including the observation and discussion of lessons.