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Showing posts from March, 2011

Research Based

One the biggest problems I face in working with reading intervention students is the curriculum. Or rather that lack thereof… As a part of the whole Response to Intervention (RTI) process, the only resources we are allowed to use are ones that are research based. Ones with lots of research behind them, showing that they worked on x number of students and raised their reading level by y points in z amount of time. Or that they monitor progress for x students, showing improvement based upon y test. I’d say it’s really boring, but if you’re in the business, it’s a little interesting. It is, however, not like reading anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence is very interesting. It’s a story of how program x worked for teacher y and all the students became voracious readers. There’s a plot! Conflict! Possibly even movie rights! Not a lot of numbers, but a lot of touching and heartwarming sentiment.For high schools students (NOT “secondary” – which in RTI land really means 7th graders), there…

You need a back up plan

Met a former student today. He told me he’s planning on becoming an English teacher. Cue dismay.I told him to go for remedial math too.He told me another adult told him he needed a back up plan in case he couldn’t get a teaching job. Like his music.Yes, rock star is now the back up plan for kids who want to be teachers.

The Countdown Begins…

Not for summer.Our state legislature has no clear budget plan. Apparently, they are confused by Bill Gates recent epiphany that taxes might have to be raised and that unions aren’t the big stumbling block to financial solvency.  (not shockingly he mentions disappointment in school not embracing technology more… personally, I’m glad our school keeps toilet paper in the stalls, but perhaps Bill has ascended the more banal bodily functions.) Will they cut levy equalization funds? The Arts? Will there be any sports left? Textbooks?So we’re all waiting for April to end and find out if we have a job or not. Hundreds of thousands around the country are doing the same.Will I be able to sell my house if I have to move? How many long term teachers will be walking away from their mortgages as they have search farther afield for work? How many will leave the profession and find something new?


SchoolLast week I registered Lala for Pre-K. It was exciting, while at the same time bittersweet. I'm excited that she is growing up and exploring new things… but she's also moving out of my control. Sure, she attends daycare, but it's a daycare that I choose with a low child/teacher ratio. A facility where they have time to care for her special needs and her educational needs. I don't believe that my local public school does not have that environment. I know the teachers, working in the same district. They are wonderful, caring teachers. They work hard to give the best education to all of their students. But, dear reader, there are only 24 hours in a day and these teachers are human beings. The kind with bladders and families of their own; they deserve to be able to have access to both.The fact is that local public school is slowly dying the death of a thousand cuts. Class sizes are so large that there is not enough room for all the desks needed. That alone is enough …

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF)

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) tests are a test of how fast a student reads. Literally, how many words per minute can the student competently read out loud… for 8th grade and beyond, a student should be able to read 145 words per minute. There is some data out there about how fast a high school student should read. The 145 is something we’ve decided to go with – your district may have something different.
I get a lot of parents who ask me why this is even something we test. Who cares how fast someone reads out loud? They probably read faster when they are silent… which is probably true.
The ORF doesn’t really test how fast someone can speak or even read out loud. It tells the proctor if the student is an automatic reader. Automaticity in reading basically means that the student is no longer reading word for word, but is, instead, chunking ideas together. An automatic reader may not even read every word on the page, but still fully understand the concepts the author is putting forth. A re…

Things that make you go hmmm...

Why is that we NEED to pay tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to executives in the financial industry because otherwise "we won't get good people"? But a government employee should be paid next nothing because they work for the government? Creating infrastructure, saving lives, educating people... that's a waste of money. Gigantic yachts, trips to Aruba... those create jobs. (for those in Aruba)

Boy! Was PT Barum right.

If I didn't like having a soul, I'd run out and get a banking job.

My Process - Reading

Once you have the screening data, you can start the process of sorting. Below is my process for reading  – you may find that something else works for you.I print out all of the RIT scores for all students and then high light every student who did not hit the grade level cut score. Then I create a spreadsheet listing all the names and actual scores. I use a spreadsheet because it’s easy to make and print out a bar graph. Bar graphs are the gold standard in RTI.Then I send out an email to all English teachers asking them to send me a list of students of students they believe are having problems reading. The English teacher have access to the screener scores for all of their students, so they know who scored what. They also know who is a real stinker, who doesn’t care about their scores, who broke up with boyfriend 10 minutes prior to taking the test and who was really too sick to be at school that day. Nine times out of ten, their lists pretty much match mine. If I’m sent a student not …

Don’t leave home without your category! Screeners

Once you’ve learned all about the RTI pyramid (which is already being phased out in favor of a new circular model) now you just have to figure out where all the students fit in that pyramid. RTI is data driven. Scared? Don’t be – you get to choose what data you use (or rather the powers that be get to choose, so get out your persuasion skills).First you need some sort of screener. Unless you are teaching is a rural necessary school, there are just too many students to constantly be evaluating.  Our school used MAP testing as a screener. At one time we did do oral reading fluency tests on ALL freshmen and sophomores. It was a major undertaking and required A LOT of staff members to get it done. I don’t recommend it for that reason and the fact that it mis-identifies students at the high school level.The screener should be given three time a year. The first one, early in the school year, is the baseline for that student, that year. The screener given in the winter should show whether a …

What is this RTI stuff ?

At the beginning of the school year, I and another ‘coach’ were tasked with explaining to the rest of the district staff as what RTI is… at least it got me out of the refresher course in PBIS. (and if you understood that last part, you probably don’t need to read this anyways, unless you want to correct my typos)RTI or Response to Intervention is, originally, an idea that seems very logical and student centered. Basically, any student, whether they qualify for Special Education services or not should receive instructional supports at their level. If Johnny isn’t reading, then teachers need to know why. If Johnny is being a butt-head, the teacher needs to find a way to counter that. However, if Johnny is having difficulty reading because of a skill deficit, then Johnny should get some sort of support to help him fill that deficit. If the classroom teacher can work with that, all the better. If not, then Johnny needs that support from somewhere else. Even if he is put into a Special Edu…

Going Paperless

As of today, my classroom will become paper-free. We have run out of money for paper at the school and there won’t be any more. At least I still have my job right?If anyone else has gone paperless, please send ideas on giving tests (please note, limited computer access for students). I need help with this one!


Since finally installing the Mimio, I’ve been carting my laptop computer to and from school every day. As my student would OMG! My right shoulder hurts! Stupidly I looked at performance and price when choosing a laptop computer, not weight.I can empathize with my students who regularly carry backpacks weighing over 20 pounds.