How is the programme designed?
The aims of the programme are to develop a resource of low cost material which can be used by parents, teachers and therapists to teach children to read, write and spell. This is done through the use of electronic material, all of which can be sent out by email. This makes it possible to deliver the material anywhere in the world quickly, and at low cost.
The programme focuses on developing basic skills and automaticity in reading, writing and spelling. It is designed around use of phonically based, large print readers, the content of which can be used to teach children to read, write and spell. There is a core series of twenty graded readers. There are also branching series of readers at different reading levels, which can be used for children with reading difficulties.
In addition, there is a foundational level consisting of basic readers with accompanying activity books. The activities are based on use of simple, low-cost equipment for introducing the sound/letter relationships with children, and also the use of a word and sentence maker with key words drawn from the foundation readers.
What methodologies are used in working with the programme materials?
The methodologies which have been found to be effective in using the programme materials are described in a series of manuals. These are made available free of charge to you once you are a member of the programme.
The manual for use in developing reading fluency is provided to you first, after you join the programme. Once you have worked with at least five children on reading fluency, additional methods for using the materials for developing writing and spelling can also be made available to you. As with the methods for developing reading fluency, these manuals are made available free of charge.
The requirements for making these additional manuals available are that you have used the reading fluency materials successfully with at least five children, that you have found the materials useful, and that you have both pre and post-test scores on the children with whom you have worked, as well as additional evidence which indicates that the children’s parents have found the materials effective.
Models for working with the programme materials
There are a number of different ways in which parents, therapists and teachers have worked with the materials to date. In addition, both school principals and programme administrators are currently using the materials in reading centres and reading programmes.
There is a model for working with the materials if you are parent working with your own child. There are also a number of ways in which the materials can be used if you are a teacher or therapist. There are additional models of programme usage which can be used by school principals or programme administrators who wish to improve reading, writing and spelling abilities in children, and are looking for low cost and effective ways in which this can be done.
These different models for working with the programme materials are outlined in the rest of this post. Each of these approaches is evidence-based.
What evidence is used to determine the level at which to start a particular child?
If you look on the home page of this website, you will see that there is a core series of twenty ebooks. These materials are graded in terms of difficulty, and can be used for developing reading fluency. They also have other uses in working with writing and spelling.
The level at which to start each child is determined through pretesting on a battery of reading, writing and spelling tests, which yield scores as well as reading fluency indicators. These are then used to determine the starting level in the programme. An initial book drawn from the first ten of the ebooks in the core series listed on the website is normally chosen to start working with a child at primary school level. An initial book drawn from books eleven to twenty is normally used to start working with a child at high school level.
Subsequent decisions on additional ebooks are then taken on the basis of evidence from progress evaluation. Both assessment and evaluation are used to establish whether the child has improved, and also whether the child can benefit from further work with the programme materials, or additional uses of the material to develop skills in writing and spelling.
What is the model for using the programme if you are a parent working with your own child?
To access and use the programme materials, a parent will need to be working with at least one of their own children. The child will need to have been assessed, and the parent will need to make contact with me based on either a teacher or a therapist’s recommendation. This is normally done by email, supported if necessary by cellphone contact.
Based on the child’s reading, writing and spelling test scores, as well as additional evaluative evidence that the child has reading fluency difficulties, the child’s parents are provided with one ebook free of charge. A copy of the book is also sent to a therapist or teacher working with the child if the parent requests this.
If there are observable differences in reading behaviour through use of the materials and the accompanying methodology, the child is then invited to join the programme. At this point, the parent pays a membership fee to join the programme for a year.
During the year of membership the parent is provided with as many ebooks as are needed to work with the child. Copies of these are also sent to the therapist or teacher who is working with the child if the parent requests this. These additional copies are provided free of any additional charge.
At the end of the year, progress is assessed through post-testing, as well as through evaluation questionnaires. If necessary the child’s membership of the programme is extended for another year.
How can the programme be used if you are a therapist or a teacher working with a single child?
To access and use the materials as a teacher or therapist, you will need to be a franchised member of the programme. This means that a teacher or therapist will need to have a franchise to use the programme materials, and also be working with at least one child. The child will need to have been assessed, and the parent will need to make contact with us on your recommendation. This is normally done by email, supported if necessary by cellphone contact.
As the aim of the programme is to provide materials at low cost, the teacher or therapist’s franchise will then be provided at low cost. The cost is in the region of ten pounds or ten euros or ten US dollars for a year’s license to use the materials. If the franchise is then extended at the end of the year, this is done at the same cost (ie once a franchised member of the programme, your annual costs do not escalate).
If the teacher or therapist is initially working with only one child, the decision as to which level of the programme to place the child will be taken based on the child’s reading, writing and spelling levels, as well as additional evidence indicating that the child has reading fluency difficulties. The child’s parents are then provided with one ebook free of charge. A copy of the book is also sent to you as the child’s therapist or teacher.
If there are observable differences in reading behaviour through use of the materials and the accompanying methodology, the child is then invited to join the programme. At this point, the parents pay a membership fee and join the programme for a year.
During the year of membership the parent is provided with as many ebooks as are needed to work with the child. Copies of these are sent to you as the child’s therapist or teacher. These are provided free of any additional charge. At the end of the year, the teacher or therapist is asked assess the child’s progress, and to assist in evaluating what the child still needs. If necessary the child’s membership of the programme is then extended for another year.
In summary, to work with our materials as a teacher or therapist, you will need to be a franchised member of our programme. The franchise is provided at low cost. This is done to enable you to use our materials, and gain experience in how they work. If you then decide that you wish to continue using our materials in your work, there is no escalation in the cost of your annual franchise, whether you work with small numbers of children, or much larger numbers of children.
How can the programme be used if you are a therapist or a teacher working with more than one child?
If you are a teacher or therapist working with more than one child who has reading fluency difficulties, it is likely that you will be wanting to implement the programme as part of a practice working with a number of children, or as part of a school programme in which children have been assessed either by a psychologist or by yourself.
To use our programme materials for this purpose, you will need to be a franchised member of the programme. As the aim of the programme is to provide materials at low cost, your teacher or therapist’s franchise is provided at low cost. This is in the region of ten pounds or ten euros or ten US dollars for a year’s license to use the materials. If the franchise is then extended at the end of the year, this is done at the same cost (ie once a franchised member of the programme, your costs do not escalate), whether you work with a small number of children, or a much larger number.
Each of the parents of children with whom you are working will need to make contact with us on your recommendation. This is normally done by email, supported by cellphone contact.
After receiving the initial assessment data, each child with whom you are working will get one ebook free, and will then be invited to join the programme if there is evidence that the materials are effective. You will also receive the materials sent to the child.
In summary, we will send each parent with whom you are working materials, once we receive the initial assessment results for the child. We will then send each parent additional ebooks on demand, with a copy to yourself.
This model works well if you a therapist or teacher who works in a practice or in a school, where you are expecting to work with at least five children over a year. Other therapists and teachers report that they are able to get the parents of the children involved in supporting their work by doing additional work at home. Using the programme materials in this way normally leads to improvements in reading fluency, with backwash effects into other reading, writing and spelling skills.
There are also other models which can be used if you are working with a number of children (e.g. in a therapy centre or in a school environment). A suitable model can be worked out with you, once we know your needs and the particular circumstances in which you work.
How can the programme be used if you want to start a reading centre or reading programme?
There are currently eighty ebooks, activity books and manuals in our data base. This body of material can be used as a low cost materials base if you would like to start a reading centre or a reading programme in which you work with other therapists, or teachers, or tutors, or volunteers.
In use the materials to start a reading centre or a reading programme, you will need to be a franchised member of our programme. You will also need to have experience in working with our materials yourself, or to have at least one teacher or therapist working with you who has had experience in working with our materials. This experience can then be used to train other teachers or therapists, or tutors or volunteers in how to use the materials effectively, as well as to supervise their work to ensure that the materials are used effectively.
There are already a number of therapists and teachers who have started reading centres using our materials, as well as reading programmes in schools. There are also school principals, programme administrators and parents who have indicated that they wish to make a wider contribution in the area of reading, who are working to develop reading programmes both in schools and in the community.
Normally the development of a reading centre or programme involves the following steps:
- It is necessary to involve at least one an experienced teacher or therapist who believes, as we do, in the value of using graded phonically based material in working with children with reading difficulties, and who has also seen the value of repetition in developing greater fluency and automaticity in reading.
- This person might be yourself. Alternatively, if you are a school principal wishing to start a reading programme or a reading club in your school, or if you are a programme administrator or a person wishing to make a wider community contribution in reading, the person you identify might be a teacher who has reached retirement age but still wishes to make a contribution to children who need better reading skills.
- Alternatively, the teacher or therapist you identify might already be working with our materials as part of an existing school programme, or working with them in a part-time context in the area of reading fluency. The important issue is that it is previous experience in working with our materials in reading fluency which is likely to drive a new programme forward.
- The reading centre or programme does not need to have physical premises. However, there will need to be space available where work with children can be done.
- Once these steps have been taken and suitable space for working has been identified, the next step is to purchase from us a license to use a set of ten ebooks drawn from our core series. The license is provided at low cost and for a year. If things work well, the license can then be extended. If things do not work out, the license can be allowed to lapse with no costs or penalties to yourself, or any of the people working with you.
- Our experience has been that one set of ten ebooks is normally enough to get going. The costs of this are in the region of 130-00 British pounds or euros or US dollars for a year’s license to use the material. What this means is that this amount is the total financial risk you will incur from our side.
- Once the license fee has been paid, the pdf’s of the ten books will be sent to you. These books can then be duplicated to serve the needs of the children you wish to serve. There are no additional charges from our side for doing so, and all manuals you will need to work with the materials are provided free of charge.
- There is thus only one cost involved, and no additional costs from our side. Should you wish to continue using our materials at the end of the year, the next year’s license will be provided at the same cost to yourself (ie there will be no escalation charges in your license to continue to use the set of books with which you have been supplied).
- As the aim of our programme is that our materials be used at low cost, should you wish to extend your programme by using an additional batch or additional batches of ten ebooks, your second or third or fourth license to use the additional batch or batches of ebooks will also be given to you at the same cost as your initial license.
- What this means is that a reading centre or programme can be developed virtually, at low cost, and without escalation in costs annually. Should the programme using the initial license be successful, the license can then be extended for an additional year at the same cost. The programme can also be extended by purchasing additional licenses to use additional batches of books.
In a nutshell, there are currently eighty phonically based, large print ebooks in our data base. All of the models outlined in this post have been developed so as to enable these materials to be used widely and at low cost. Whether you are a parent working with your own child, a teacher or therapist working with one child or with a number of children, or a school administrator or administrator of a charitable organisation or foundation wishing to make an impact on reading, writing and spelling difficulties, there should be a way of using our materials at low cost to do this. If there is not one listed in this post which is appropriate to what you want to do or the type of contribution you want to make, we will try and work something appropriate out with you.
The one element which is common across all the different models is that the programme is evidence-based. Our materials and methodologies have been workshopped with children who have reading and learning difficulties, and the evidence indicates that where the materials are used consistently and properly, they work well. There are publications which indicate this, and the evidence presented is consistent.
We are aware that home, school and programme contexts vary considerably. So if you wish to use our materials and you find that the models presented in this post do not coincide with the particular uses you have in mind, you are welcome to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can take your ideas forward.
As evaluation is ongoing, my next post will be on the use of evidence in the programme. This will focus on how assessment and evaluation are used to establish whether programme usage is effective.