Special Ed Reading Coach
Three years ago our district started using My Reading Coach as a reading intervention for Special Education and Tier II & III students. We wanted Smith Academy students to utilize the My Reading Coach computer program and gain the basic phonics skills they lacked to help them improve their reading. With a virtual reading and speech teacher, and consistent praise and encouragement from the My Reading Coach program, our goal was to schedule groups of 10 students in the lab for about 20 to 30 minutes a day. The My Reading Coach program keeps records of the time the students have spent on the program, what they are mastering, and where they are struggling. The pre-test not only places the students on the level they should start, but has them complete only the levels they need.
My Reading Coach consistently reviews phonics sounds and rules, vocabulary, word structure, and reading comprehension. The program is generally self-explanatory making training students and staff unnecessary, but hands-on tasks are available for students who are having difficulty mastering levels. The students love being able to come into the computer lab to use My Reading Coach! Students who were really poor readers, started putting letters together, forming words, and wanted to read more! Teachers saw their students excited about reading! Some students who said they ‘hated reading’ and ‘couldn’t do it’ were now reading in their own classrooms, checking out chapter books from the library, and were no longer on the list for retention or Special Education testing. The teachers were impressed to see the carry over from My Reading Coach to the work the students were capable of completing in their classrooms.
When My Reading Coach was first used 3 years ago, we only had 10 site licenses and I was worried about trying to fill those 10 seats a few times a day. Soon the demand by the students to use My Reading Coach became overwhelming; we contacted the company and my district representative and received 10 more site licenses, including 2 in Spanish. Soon kids were lined up across the computer room quietly waiting their turn on My Reading Coach; this was in addition to their daily tutorial group! Some students came to the lab 3 times a day and still wanted to come back for more! I heard cries of “Wait, I’m almost done with my level!”, when students were asked to go back to their classrooms. In our first year, 250 students accessed My Reading Coach.
How We Use It:
To give the students daily access to My Reading Coach, we had to become creative. We opened the lab in the morning after they ate breakfast until school started, but we still we needed more time. We then opened the lab during the students’ lunchtimes; after the student finished eating, he/she could go across the hall to the computer lab. During lunchtime a line formed all the way around the room of waiting children who wanted to use My Reading Coach. Students, who needed a more structured setting after breakfast and lunch, before their teacher came to pick up their class, now had an opportunity to further their learning with the individualized instruction of My Reading Coach and be productively active. We hold tutorial classes on Saturdays during our second semester wherein the students receive small group sessions in Math, Reading, and My Reading Coach. The students seem more receptive to learning on Saturday instead of afterschool tutorials.
This hands on approach to phonics, by showing the position of the tongue, and mouth, speaking and then slowing down, gives students an understanding of the written and spoken language that you would usually only get from a teacher. We will continue to use My Reading Coach this year for all of our Special Education, Tier II & III students for reading intervention. We will also be using the program RAPS 360, from the same company as My Reading Coach, MindPlay. RAPS 360 is a computerized diagnostic reading assessment program that will be used in conjunction with My Reading Coach, as a Response to Intervention (RtI) during this school year. Someday at Smith Academy I want someone to say that our kids, “just read too much!”