Five principles help to explain the relationship between students’ brains and the task of learning to read:
Comprehending text involves disparate processes, from perceiving words, to identifying text structures, to understanding the relationships between characters in a story. These processes are associated with activation in different parts of the brain. Neuroscience research has found that, when a student reads about an action or emotion, the activation in the brain is consistent with the student experiencing that action or emotion. For example, when a student reads about a character riding a bike, the parts of the brain responsible for helping the student ride a bike are activated (Rose, 2014; Wehbe et al., 2014).
Activation patterns in the brains of good readers and struggling readers differ dramatically. The reading circuits in the brains of struggling readers are more scattered and less established than in the brains of good readers. But research has demonstrated that intensive instruction in and deliberate practice of reading skills and strategies can change the way that struggling readers’ brains work. Technology based reading instruction can identify a student’s weaknesses, alert the teacher for individualized instruction, and give the student personalized, targeted practice (Cunningham & Rose, 2013).
READ 180 Universal instruction incorporates the latest research and principles of how the brain learns to read. The content within the program engages and motivates students, resulting in activation of disparate parts of the brain that are vital to reading with comprehension. READ 180 Universal is a comprehensive reading intervention that addresses the needs of struggling readers and provides instruction, support, and practice in the areas that are most needed for each individual student. The authors of the program carefully considered the strengths and weaknesses of specific student populations and designed instruction that will meet their needs at a variety of levels. Data from assessments and the Student Application (Student App) rotation are leveraged to identify students’ specific needs, strengths, and interests to target instruction in the areas that students need assistance.
Anchor Videos activate and strengthen vocabulary and background knowledge circuits in the brain, allowing students to comprehend and link passages to their existing knowledge. Structured practice in decoding, encoding, and reading words fluently allows students to automate those processes and focus their cognitive attention on the difficult work of comprehending complex text. The engaging and motivating texts that students encounter encourage them to work through their struggles and persist even when the passage is challenging.
Students’ academic mindsets play an important role in making them more engaged in learning, more resilient in the face of setbacks, and more academically successful. A report by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCCR) de ned four important beliefs that make up academic mindset: a sense of belonging, self-efficacy, relevance/purpose, and growth mindset (Farrington et al., 2012).
Growth mindset is the belief that through effort and perseverance one can become better at something. Engagement, motivation, choice, ownership, and a growth mindset are intimately related (Dweck, 2007; Glei, 2013).
There have been numerous additions to the growth mindset literature in recent years (Blackwell et al., 2007; Cohen, Garcia, Purdie- Vaughns, Apfel, & Brzustoski, 2009; Yeager, Walton, Ritter, & Dweck, 2013). The Blackwell et al. (2007) study found that after eight growth mindset sessions in which students learned that intelligence can change over time, the students outperformed a control group on grade point averages. Additionally, a study by Greenleaf et al. (2011) found similar results for interventions focusing on academic behaviors.
Skills such as perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control instill growth mindset and grit in students, allowing them to continue to try. These skills have more to do with character than with cognition and should be taught alongside daily curricular instruction (Tough, 2012).
Self-efficacy in the academic realm is the belief and confidence that one has in regard to his or her capacity to accomplish meaningful learning tasks and produce the desired results (Brozo & Flynn, 2008). Perseverance refers to the tendency to pursue long-term goals with sustained effort and hard work. It has been shown to predict achievement in academic and vocational domains (Duckworth, Quinn, & Seligman, 2009; Duckworth & Quinn, 2009).
Executive function describes students’ ability to control their cognitive processes including planning, organizing, reasoning, and working memory. Students with strong executive function abilities are able to control the many different processes that lead to successful reading comprehension. Measures of executive function are highly correlated to measures of growth mindset, self-efficacy, and reading achievement (Miller et al., 2014).
Students who have an easier time learning to read tend to use metacognitive awareness as they are reading to think about what they are doing and to adjust the strategies they use accordingly. Some metacognitive strategies that foster reading growth include: setting goals while reading; regulating progress; and employing mastery- oriented strategies in order to reach comprehension goals (Molden & Dweck, 2006; Pressley & Af erbach, 1995). These strategies assist struggling students in realizing that their reading abilities are fluid— not fixed. It encourages them to persist in the face of difficulty and avoid becoming convinced that they are “bad” readers.
While brief interventions can prove successful at helping students establish a growth mindset, more lasting change can be effected through daily activities that reinforce the importance of growth mindset. Schools and classrooms that reinforce growth mindset messaging place the focus on learning rather than performance and make learning more enjoyable for students (Yeager, Paunesku, Walton, & Dweck, 2013).
READ 180 Universal develops academic mindset and behaviors as well as executive function, and encourages learning strategies critical for success in college and career. Building on existing structures that instill a sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and purpose, READ 180 Universal adds a focus on growth mindset. This focus helps to build students’ knowledge of growth mindset and increase their awareness of their own mindsets. READ 180 Universal also helps teachers internalize and operationalize growth mindset for themselves and their students. Additionally, the program supports students and teachers in making connections between their academic mindsets, behaviors, and performances over time.
Growth mindset is integrated into READ 180 Universal using five principles, which reach across program components (Whole- and Small-Group Learning, Student App, and Independent Reading):
During the first two weeks of READ 180 Universal, teachers and students begin to build their academic community with the Getting Started Workshop. In these lessons, students investigate what it means to have a growth mindset and experience how the brain changes with learning in an Anchor Video. They set goals for the school year and beyond and learn about other READ 180 students that struggled academically, but continued to work hard with effort and focus until they were able to achieve their goals. This Workshop helps students understand their own mindsets and how they can “build their brains” with positive learning behaviors. The concept of a fixed versus growth mindset is introduced from the very beginning of the year, so students and teachers have language to discuss mindset and behavior. They can work together to overcome challenges with effort and perseverance.
Throughout the course of READ 180 Universal, students cultivate a growth mindset by approaching learning tasks with perseverance. The gradual release approach used in all READ 180 Universal instruction ensures that students gain confidence as they move from full support to independent work, taking on increased responsibility for their own learning.
The READ 180 Universal Student App also reflects important principles of engagement and motivation—critical for struggling readers. Students can track their progress toward and mastery of reading skills through the Student Dashboard. Monitoring their progress will build students’ self-efficacy as they witness their growth and progress through READ 180 Universal. The Student Dashboard acts as a powerful motivator for students, as they are able to track their own progress, celebrate their achievements, and take ownership. By empowering students to drive their own learning, students will develop executive function skills that will serve them in the classroom and beyond.
The Student App provides patient encouragement to students, along with immediate individualized feedback that can be particularly beneficial to English learners and students with disabilities. Universal design principles in the technology bolster the confidence of English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities. Additionally, first language support features augment the learning process for ELLs. This access to information about their progress and achievements not only motivates students, but also builds their awareness of who they are as learners, and guides them in setting and working toward academic goals.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which students develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, feel and show empathy for others, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, 2014).
Five of the SEL core competencies are self-awareness (the ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior); self-regulation (managing one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations); social awareness (taking the perspective of and empathizing with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures while recognizing social and ethical norms for behavior); relationship skills (establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups); and responsible decision making (making constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards and the well-being of self and others) (CASEL, 2014).
Some of the SEL factors that improve success in school include having self-discipline, motivating one’s self, managing stress, and organizing one’s approach to learning more (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005). Self-regulation is another component of SEL that has been linked to academic achievement. Students who display this aspect of SEL try harder and have more persistence in the face of challenges (Aronson et al., 2002).
Three decades of research covered in a meta-analysis of 213 SEL programs found that SEL interventions increased students’ academic performance by 11 percentile points over students who did not participate in SEL programs. The SEL programs also reduced aggression and emotional distress, increased helping behaviors, and improved positive attitudes toward one’s self and others (Durlak et al., 2011).
Social-emotional learning in schools can be just as, if not even more, essential than academic learning for putting students on a path to positive developmental and life outcomes. A study conducted by the Center for benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College found that schools that invest in social-emotional learning programs experience a return on their investment of $11 for every dollar spent. In addition to improvements in grades, attendance, and performance in core subjects, other benefits from social-emotional learning programs include reductions in aggression, substance abuse, delinquency, depression, and anxiety (Bel eld et al., 2015).
The content organized within READ 180 Universal’s Knowledge Map reinforces and provides examples of the importance of managing emotions, setting and working to achieve goals, showing empathy for others, maintaining positive relationships, and making responsible decisions.
Within the Student Application (Student App) and Independent Reading, students read texts that inspire them to consider others through new perspectives. The messages and feedback delivered by the “Smart Coach” in Student App encourage students to persevere and achieve goals, make responsible decisions, regulate their thoughts and behaviors, manage stress, and organize their approach to learning.
The Student Dashboard within Student App allows students to set goals, regulate their progress, and motivate themselves toward achieving their goals.
The Independent Reading Library includes a number of titles that promote healthy social and emotional traits. The books help students build social awareness by encouraging them to feel and show empathy for others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. They also demonstrate positive relationship skills, such as seeking out healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and responsible decision making such as making constructive and respectful choices about actions and behavior.
During the Getting Started Workshop, completed during the first two weeks of the school year, students set goals for each of the READ 180 Universal rotations and learn tips to help them achieve those goals. These goals are revisited throughout the school year to help the students become self-motivated and self-regulated in achieving their goals. Students gain social awareness through reading stories and watching videos about other people who have faced and overcome challenges. The activities that students complete during this Workshop help them to become aware of their own thoughts and emotions and how they can control them to “do a 180,” rewrite their own stories, and put themselves on a path to college and career success.
Blended learning can be described both as a formal education program in which a student learns through online delivery of content and instruction while having some control over time, place, path, and/or pace, and as a supervised education program that occurs in a “brick-and-mortar” location (Staker & Horn, 2012).
Providing a fundamental redesign of instructional models, blended learning seeks to accelerate learning toward college and career readiness. The goal is to develop schools that are more productive for both students and teachers by personalizing instruction. In this way, blended learning can ensure that the most appropriate resources and interventions are available for students at the time that they need them (Bailey, Ellis, Schneider, & Vander Ark, 2013).
Blended learning has the potential to bring accessibility, affordability, and customization that might have previously been complicated, expensive, and standardized to educational places. In this way, it can transform learning experiences for students (Staker et al., 2011).
Blended learning that integrates face-to-face and digital learning can lead to greater educational equity, opportunities, and efficiencies for students. As we use technology and digital devices regularly in order to function in our personal and professional lives, it is reasonable to integrate these same resources into educational environments (Anderson & Skrzypchak, 2011).
Models of blended learning that follow a hybrid pattern build upon and offer sustaining enhancements to a regular classroom system while not disrupting it. Other models of blended learning that are more disruptive can transform the classroom system by becoming engines of change over the longer term (Horn & Staker, 2014).
In a membership survey of teachers from all fifty states, the Association of American Educators found that 92% of teachers report utilizing technology in the classroom and 68% of teachers “support a blended learning environment where students spend part of their day with a teacher and part of their day working with a computer” (Association of American Educators, 2015).
HMH has embraced a blended learning approach to instruction since the first version of READ 180 integrated technology was introduced in primary and secondary classrooms to support teachers’ efforts to provide individualized, personalized, and differentiated instruction. As Margery Mayer, president of HMH Intervention Solutions Group, has said: “Everyone is in the blended learning space now, but back then we just felt that ‘blended’ was the most natural way to learn—technology to help and support where it makes sense. And it steps back and lets the teacher do what he or she does best as well.”*
All READ 180 Universal teachers have access to HMH Teacher Space, which provides unprecedented support for monitoring learning and differentiating instruction—critical to effective intervention. Through HMH Teacher Space, the teacher can:
READ 180 Universal Student Application (Student App) complements the teacher-led Whole- and Small-Group Learning with activities that customize and scaffold individual skill practice. Students are able to choose their path through the Student App and work at their own pace, two factors that are critical to an effective blended learning program. Student App also continuously collects data about student performance and provides continual personalized feedback to the student, freeing the teacher to focus on targeted direct instruction for the Whole-Group and Small-Group Learning.
Other features of READ 180 Universal technology also help teachers collect and manage data, providing them more time for face-to- face teaching. For example, the adaptive The Reading Inventory assessment screens students and provides a Lexile measure that teachers can use to efficiently match students with texts. This data not only provides a personalized path through the Student App, but also allows the teacher to differentiate instruction during Small-Group Learning.
Learning to read skillfully is a complex process that begins with foundational literacy skills. When these foundational skills have been strategically and automatically mastered, skilled reading with comprehension can occur. As the research shows, students’ knowledge of the correspondence between sounds and spellings determines their ability to read single words with speed and accuracy, which in turn predicts their ability to read and comprehend texts (Adams & Bruck, 1995; Scarborough, 2002; Wagner, 2008).
Struggling readers are likely to suffer from deficits in phonemic awareness and phonological processing. These deficits may not be evident until the third or fourth grade and are likely to impede reading ability throughout the lifespan without intervention (Lipka, Lesaux, & Siegel, 2006).
Direct instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics improves word recognition skills, which in turn improves reading comprehension. Explicit and systematic literacy instruction that focuses on foundational skills taught in the context of meaningful, level-appropriate text has proven especially important to improved reading abilities for struggling readers and students with disabilities (Adams, 1990; National Early Literacy Panel, 2008; National Reading Panel, 2000; National Research Council, 1998).
Multisensory learning approaches allow students to master the foundational literacy skills necessary for comprehension. Providing direct, systematic, sequential, and cumulative instruction in phonology and phonological awareness, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and comprehension allows for the fluency and automaticity of word recognition required for skilled reading (Birch, 2011; McIntyre & Pickering, 1995).
Foundational reading instruction should be integrated with opportunities to read meaningful connected text as part of a coherent instructional approach (Adams, 1990; Moats, 2012; Strickland, 2011).
Rigorous state standards stress that “foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, they are necessary and important components of an effective, comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend text across a range of types and disciplines” (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010, p. 15).
Each Workshop in READ 180 Universal begins with a text designed to allow students to practice and build fluency. This text is written with decodable words, sight words, and other elements that make the text considerate—and includes foundational skills instruction and practice to help students automate the word recognition and reading processes. The workshop fluency texts provide practice and reinforce skills and patterns that students learn on the Student Application (Student App) as they build reading fluency.
READ 180 Universal provides explicit, systematic instruction in the research-based foundational and higher-order comprehension skills and strategies necessary for understanding text. These skills and strategies, from word decoding to making inferences, are modeled in Whole and Small Groups, practiced in Student App, and applied during Independent Reading.
The HMH Teacher Space guides teachers in leading Whole- and Small-Group lessons in which they teach, model, and guide practice in comprehension and critical-thinking skills and strategies, using a wide range of expository and narrative texts. A gradual release approach is used throughout READ 180 Universal teacher- led instruction and in the Student App, which provides scaffolding for students as they learn to internalize comprehension skills and strategies.
READ 180 Universal instruction is designed to systematically bolster students’ comprehension of text before, during, and after reading, using research-based techniques that are beneficial to struggling readers, English learners, and students with disabilities. Before reading, Anchor Videos, teacher-led lessons, and vocabulary development lessons in the Student App help students activate prior knowledge and build mental models of new concepts. During reading, the Student App helps students comprehend the text by providing definitions for unfamiliar words, identifying signal and vocabulary words in the text, and personalizing coaching and feedback to keep the students on task and encourage them to use helpful supports. Finally, READ 180 Universal instruction includes activities and routines to assess and reinforce comprehension after reading.
Language should be used in the classroom to bridge information gaps, to communicate ideas and information, and to “get things done.” The purpose of language is to communicate in real-life ways. To meet rigorous standards, students need to learn how to use language to clearly communicate their ideas around what they are learning (Zwiers, 2014).
Academic language refers to the form of the English language that is expected in situations such as the discussion of topics across the curriculum, making arguments, defending propositions, and synthesizing information. Written and spoken academic discussion is significantly different from informal discussion as academic language is characterized by specific types of vocabulary, text structures, and grammatical structures (Dutro & Kinsella, 2010; Snow, 2010).
Instruction for English learners should emphasize academic language, specifically the specialized language associated with academic instruction and content areas. Students that receive instruction in and are able to use decontextualized academic language are more likely to be successful than students who use contextualized social language (California Department of Education, 2010).
Research shows that there is a strong reciprocal relationship between reading comprehension and knowledge of both conversational and academic language (Baumann, Kame’enui, & Ash, 2003; Duke & Pearson, 2002; Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001).
The interaction between academic language and academic content is a great challenge for English learners, thus contributing to gaps in achievement between ELs and English-proficient students (Anstrom, DiCerbo, Butler, Katz, Millet, & Rivera, 2010). English learners bring meaningful experiences and content knowledge to the classroom that can be leveraged to accelerate their language development. Expert opinion supports incorporating structured peer discussions around relevant content-area literacy instruction so that students have multiple opportunities to practice and hear academic language— especially important for English learners and those who speak nonstandard dialects of English (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2002; Dutro & Kinsella, 2010).
To add new academic words to their expressive vocabularies, students need structured classroom contexts that offer frequent and accountable opportunities to use the new terminology in their speaking, listening, and writing (Feldman & Kinsella, 2008).
READ 180 Universal provides a comprehensive and systematic approach to developing the language skills of students. Through carefully scaffolded reading, writing, and speaking activities, students learn the phonological, morphological, syntactical, and semantic structures of English—particularly academic English. In Whole- and Small-Group Learning, high-utility academic vocabulary is taught through a research-based instructional routine, promoting understanding of words that students will encounter in all subject areas.
In each Whole- and Small-Group lesson, teachers teach and assess two or three language goals focused on vocabulary, language functions, and language of reading, writing, and speaking. Language functions stem from the linguistic demands of a lesson task and focus on high-leverage language that will serve students in other contexts. Across the year in READ 180 Universal, students develop expressive language skills to:
READ 180 Universal also provides explicit and systematic instruction through Whole- and Small-Group Learning in word learning strategies, giving students the tools they need to learn new words independently. Recursive vocabulary in reading selections encourages frequent review, practice, and reinforcement of targeted words. Independent reading materials in READ 180 Universal provide further exposure to increasingly advanced vocabulary and include supports such as graphic organizers to help students comprehend the vocabulary and content.
At the beginning of each segment of the Student Application (Student App), students complete the Explore Zone. In the Explore Zone, students are introduced to context-relevant vocabulary words in the Anchor Video and then complete activities that activate their vocabulary and real-world knowledge before reading the passage. During the Language Zone of Student App, students build and expand their academic vocabulary knowledge through language-based activities that investigate word families, words in context, synonyms and antonyms, and examples and non-examples. Students complete practice activities using definitions and context sentences for each word—crucial supports that can help struggling readers and English learners alike acquire vocabulary as they read. In the Reading Zone, students practice words-in-context skills during the Close Read activity, which includes words-in-context questions for three power words per level.
In the READ 180 Universal ReaL Book, students have the opportunity to practice the academic language they have learned in Whole and Small-Group Learning in discussions with their peers. These discussions help to develop students’ oral language skills using the language of school. Giving students time to practice and develop oral language is especially helpful for those students who are struggling readers, English learners, and students with disabilities.
People construct new knowledge and understandings based on their existing knowledge (Bransford et al., 2000). Research shows that background knowledge is critical to reading proficiency (Adams, 2009; Lee & Spratley, 2010; Torgesen et al., 2007). Knowledge of subject matter is necessary in order to understand what is read (Hirsch & Pondiscio, 2010).
Content knowledge and reading are inextricably intertwined— reading will never progress beyond decoding without a foundation of content knowledge. The ability to comprehend a text depends greatly on the knowledge of the subject that the reader brings to that text.
A program that enriches the knowledge of students is a must for reading improvement (Hirsch, 2014). In order to build content knowledge, students must read an adequate number of high-quality, complex, and engaging texts that allow them to study a topic for a sustained period of time. Infusing these content-rich texts into the English Language Arts curriculum allows students to spend an extended part of the school day not only reading, but also gaining knowledge that will allow them to read more complex texts in the future (Wattenberg, 2014).
Some students face barriers to learning because the representation of information assumes certain critical background knowledge and content knowledge. Since there is such a wide range of individual differences among students, ensuring that all students have equal opportunities to learn requires providing options and alternatives, such as videos that anchor instruction (CAST, 2011).
Within software, both direct, explicit instruction and providing structured problem-solving guidance can be effective at enhancing 22 anchored instruction, each at different levels depending on the complexity of the task. The most effective interactive learning environments take into consideration the needs of a particular situation (Zydney, Bathke, & Hasselbring, 2014).
Dynamic images and sounds are especially helpful for students with limited background knowledge and English learners (Hasselbring & Glaser, 2000; Lacina, 2004). Using multiple representations of video information with struggling students gives them an authentic base of experience in abstract domains, thus making the abstract information more concrete (Heo, 2007).
Mini-anchors may be a valuable approach to use for creating adaptable learning environments. They serve as a prescription for how to individualize instruction by embedding multiple, short, video-based scenarios within a computer-based program. In this way, mini anchors provide learners with multiple ways to perceive, engage with, and interact with instructional content (Zydney & Hasselbring, 2014).
Successful readers have a strong vocabulary, background knowledge on a diversity of topics, and fluency that allows them to focus on the meaning of the text. These readers gain exponentially more vocabulary, knowledge, and fluency as they read, which allows them to read more texts and build their knowledge base even more. Struggling readers continue to fall further and further behind because they can’t access the knowledge and understanding of successful readers. This rich-get-richer and poor-get-poorer outcome is known as the Matthew Effect (Stanovich, 1986). Without early and effective intervention, struggling readers never gain the background knowledge they need to be effective readers and only fall further and further behind.
READ 180 Universal is designed to help students acquire and activate the background and content knowledge that is essential to reading comprehension. Before reading a text in a Workshop or in the Student Application (Student App), students watch an Anchor Video that provides them with the content and vocabulary knowledge they need to comprehend the text. These Anchor Videos not only contribute immediately to improved comprehension of the texts that students read, but also give students knowledge that they can transfer to unfamiliar texts, allowing them to build more knowledge and continue to read more in a virtuous cycle.
At the core of READ 180 Universal are multitudes of informational texts that stretch across the content areas, such as social studies, science, literature and the arts, and contemporary social issues in order to build the domain knowledge that is critical to reading comprehension. By spending an extended period of time within a Knowledge Cluster, students are able to develop the knowledge that comes from deep and meaningful study of a topic. Through this engaging, diverse content, READ 180 Universal readings help students develop the strong base of world knowledge and interdisciplinary literacy skills that they need in order to better comprehend texts across the curriculum.
READ 180 Universal makes systematic and extensive use of mental models to help students build background knowledge and improve comprehension of texts. READ 180 Universal exposes students to multiple text types in order to build students’ world knowledge and prepare them to comprehend across the content areas. The content in all components of READ 180 Universal reflects diverse perspectives, allowing students to both reflect on their own experiences and explore new concepts and points of view.
The Anchor Videos included in the READ 180 Universal Student App and Workshops introduce students to the concepts and vocabulary they will need to access the related text passages. The videos and subsequent language development activities aid students in developing a mental picture of what they are about to read, resulting in improved comprehension. The combination of video and vocabulary support is especially helpful for English learners who may have gaps in context information and/or academic language.
READ 180 Universal teacher-led instruction further supports the building of background knowledge to enhance comprehension.
HMH Teacher Space includes specific instructional routines to prepare students for reading, such as the academic discussion routine which helps build background about a particular concept that is critical to the Workshop texts. As part of this routine, students brainstorm, write, exchange, record, and report on their ideas. Students also use the Vocabulary routine to learn key content-area vocabulary words that appear in subsequent texts. This routine enables students to learn new themes, discuss examples, and practice using the vocabulary prior to encountering these words in texts. In addition, Resources for Differentiated Instruction in HMH Teacher Space include lessons that teachers can use to build students’ background knowledge and promote mental model development during Whole-Group Instruction.
The Common Core State Standards require that all students read grade-level, complex texts, but many readers are not able to do so independently. Thoughtful and informed instruction and scaffolding can help students tackle complex text. Teaching students how to pay close attention to the text, reread, annotate the text with notes in the margin, identify the author’s purpose and text structure, circle confusing words or sections, talk about the text with others, and ask text-dependent questions can be beneficial in helping students comprehend complex text (Liben & Liben, 2013).
There are many factors that contribute to the complexity of a text. In addition to word difficulty, sentence length, and sentence structure, the genre and structure of the text can also affect the readability of a passage. Texts in familiar genres and that are well structured with signal words are easier to read than unfamiliar, less-structured texts (Williams et al., 2014). Another factor that contributes to text complexity is cohesion, or the characteristics of the text that help the reader connect ideas in the text. Texts have several layers of cohesion: within sentences, within paragraphs, and across the texts (Graesser, McNamara, & Kulikowich, 2011). It is important to consider all of these factors when assessing the complexity and readability of a text.
Reading is fundamental for meeting life goals, such as becoming informed, accomplishing tasks, pursuing interests, and raising children. Unless students learn how to read texts of real-world complexity, they will be unprepared for college, careers, and life in general. When students read complex texts, they gain new language and knowledge that they need in order to access ever more advanced texts (Adams, 2009; 2011).
Immersion in complex texts is one of the best ways to help students develop mature language skills and the conceptual knowledge they need for success in school and beyond (Bridges, 2014).
Studies indicate that exposure to a wide range of texts strengthens understanding of the relationships among different words and concepts—building a “word consciousness” that enables the reader to more easily interpret the meanings of previously unencountered words (Adams, 2009).
For students to acquire the language of literacy, or academic language, they must encounter these structures and patterns in the materials they read. Providing students with exposure to complex texts allows them access to academic language, and having them interact with the texts allows them to discover how academic language works (Fillmore & Fillmore, 2012)
READ 180 Universal guides students from highly supported reading toward independent mastery of increasingly complex text, enabling students of all reading levels to access content-rich complex texts. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) has created a version of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) text complexity triangle. The Text Complexity Triangle, shown on the opposite page, measures the three components of text complexity as outlined by CCSS: Quantitative (Lexile measure), Qualitative, and Reader & Task.
ReaL Book Workshops include two types of texts: Fluency Texts and Workshop Texts. The first text in a Workshop is always a fluency text that introduces the Workshop topic, and serves to build knowledge about the topic. Workshop texts that follow are more complex and represent a variety of text types and lengths. The texts within a ReaL Book Workshop are sequenced to build on each other in order of increasing difficulty. The background knowledge and vocabulary that students develop from initial selections allow them to move from simple to more complex text. The Teacher’s Edition Planning Guide includes a Heads Up section with challenges that students may experience with each text. Multiple reads, explicit vocabulary learning, teacher-led close reading, and ReaL Book scaffolds support students as they work toward reading increasingly complex and grade-level texts.
The Qualitative Components of text complexity considered by READ 180 Universal include those identified by Coh-Metrix as the most important factors in readability: narrativity, syntactic simplicity, word concreteness, referential cohesion, and deep cohesion (Graesser, McNamara, & Kulikowich, 2011). As students progress through the Student Application (Student App), the texts that they encounter become relatively more complex in each of these dimensions. The relative complexity of each of these dimensions is offset by the other dimensions, providing scaffolds for the students to read and comprehend increasingly complex texts.
READ 180 Universal provides teachers with the tools to expertly match reader to text and task. The variety and volume of texts in READ 180 Universal provide varying degrees of complexity and scaffolding, allowing students to access texts at the appropriate level of challenge and move toward independence. The adaptive technology in READ 180 Universal customizes instruction and practice according to students’ Lexile measures and other quantitative and qualitative factors that make up the student’s learner Profile, providing continual opportunities for all students, including English learners and students with disabilities, to experience success and demonstrate progress. Throughout READ 180 Universal, each reading is marked with an icon displaying its Lexile measure and complexity level to assist teachers in effectively matching readers with appropriately leveled texts.
Using the above dimensions, each Workshop entails a series of increasingly complex texts—a diverse array of classic and contemporary literature as well as challenging informational texts in a range of subjects. Each Workshop supports students in accessing complex texts through a narrow reading approach in which students read a series of increasingly challenging texts with overlapping topics and recurring academic vocabulary. Each new text builds on the previous media and texts, providing students with the background knowledge, vocabulary, and confidence needed to access complex texts that might otherwise have been too challenging.
Explicit and systematic cognitive research that has been conducted over many decades has revealed that reading not only builds our brains; it also exercises our intelligence (Bridges, 2014). Reading is a rich, complex, and cognitive act that provides us with a great opportunity to exercise our intelligence in ways that we lose if we do not read (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).
Decades of research have shown us that avid readers are also skillful readers and writers. They have more knowledge about the conventions of language in areas such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary. They also know more about the world (Bridges, 2014).
Students will not become successful independent readers unless they are given the chance to practice reading independently. By giving students the opportunity to choose texts in which they are interested, they will be able to read more complex texts because they are motivated and often knowledgeable about the topic (Liben & Liben, 2013).
Half of children ages 6–17 who read independently as a class or school (52%) say it’s one of their favorite parts of the day and wish it would happen more often. Almost all children in this age range (91%) say that their favorite books are ones that they choose themselves. One-third of children aged 6–17 (33%) say their class has a designated time during the school day to read a book of their choice independently, but only 17% do this every or almost every school day (Scholastic, 2015).
Findings from the Kids & Family Reading Report (2015) showed that 54% of children ages 0–5 are read aloud to at home five to seven days a week, and 40% of children ages 6–11 who are no longer read aloud to at home wish that they were. Among a wide 26 range of age groups, 83% of kids say that they liked a lot the times that their parents read to them aloud at home, and they wish their parents had continued to read to them after they reached school age.
It is important that parents and teachers read to their children and students every day. Reading aloud together is one of the best ways for children to learn to read. The most important thing is to let children set their own pace and have fun during the experience (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015).
Although 61% of children have read an ebook, a nearly equal number—65%—agree that they’ll always want to read books in print (Scholastic, 2015), making it important to offer texts in both mediums to engage all learners.
Research on students’ use of digital and print text suggests that middle-grade students could benefit from direct instruction for comprehending digital text along with practice interacting with digital texts. In particular, students need to develop better strategies for making sense of digital text instead of over-applying the strategies they use with print text (Davis & Neitzel, 2012).
Respected literacy researchers Gina Biancarosa and Gina S. Grif ths (2014) offer several recommendations for teachers to integrate technology and digital texts into their existing classroom routines. In particular, they argue that technology should be viewed as one tool many teachers use to prepare students for literacy in a digital age. When incorporating digital tools into a classroom, their recommendations include selecting evidence-based technology, providing ongoing support to teachers using the technology, and making good use of the data provided by the technology.
READ 180 Universal ensures that students make reading part of their daily routine by dedicating one of the three Station Rotations to independent reading. Texts in the Independent Reading rotation provide engaging content that is delivered at the appropriate level of the student. Students also have the option of choosing more challenging texts that are aligned with their interests.
Independent reading is designed to foster student choice and a love of reading, but also includes checkpoints for accountability and teacher insight on student progress. The READ 180 Universal Independent Reading library consists of print books and digital reads, including eBooks and eReads, as well as audiobooks that model fluency and reading comprehension strategies. Students are provided scaffolds for eReads, which are relevant, current, and engaging articles of differing modalities and lengths. Two of the eReads that are included in the library are a story of a teen that survived the Boston Marathon bombing and the story of a teen trapped in a deadly storm who survived using tips he learned on reality TV.
READ 180 Universal offers Independent Reading supports for students and teachers. In the digital Independent Reading experience, students Engaging Titles Across Content Areas ENGINEERING MATHEMATICS TECHNOLOGY can access additional supports, such as text-to-speech as well as a dictionary. The resources available to teachers include:
After finishing an Independent Reading book, students can take HMH Reading Counts! quizzes. When students log on to HMH Reading Counts!, they see the books they have completed and can then choose to take either an HMH Reading Counts! quiz or a H.O.T. Quiz—the latter of which is a more challenging quiz. The choices that students make will give the teacher insight into their mindsets, motivation, and challenge-seeking behaviors. The teacher will know how many books students have read and how they have challenged themselves. Students will also complete reading logs to track their progress toward the goals they set at the beginning of the year. Students can log their progress in ReaL Book or during the Student Application (Student App) or Independent Reading rotation.
The ability to write effectively is critical to reading development. Writing instruction can have a positive impact on students’ reading skills and comprehension, particularly when students analyze and interpret texts in writing, write summaries, and answer questions about them in writing (Graham & Hebert, 2010).
Reading and writing go hand in hand. By identifying and explicitly discussing the features of different texts, teachers can support students’ comprehension and offer models for writing (Schleppegrell, 2009).
Teachers can use writing instruction as a tool to promote knowledge and as a mechanism for higher-order thinking (Graham & Hebert, 2010). To be well-prepared for college, the workplace, and life, students need opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, discussing and critiquing different viewpoints in order to form and justify their own stance (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Lewis & Moorman, 2007).
Instructional programs that incorporate units of study stress the reading-writing connection as students engage in higher-order thinking skills, such as reading and writing about a wide range of text types, comparing and contrasting the structure of complex texts, and analyzing how an author’s writing decisions contribute to the text’s structure and meaning (Pytash & Morgan, 2013; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers (2010).
Meta-analyses of writing instruction, including studies of struggling writers, have found several strategies to have moderate to strong evidence for improving student writing including: (a) teaching 28 students strategies for planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, and editing; (b) teaching students procedures for regulating the writing strategies they are taught; (c) teaching students spelling, handwriting, and keyboarding; (d) setting clear and specific writing goals; and (e) giving students opportunities to work together to plan, draft, revise, and edit their papers (Graham, McKeown et al., 2012; Graham, Harris, & Santalego, in press; Graham & Perin, 2007a, 2007b.)
English learners need significant, structured opportunities to engage in academic discourse through speaking and writing (Francis et al., 2006; Kinsella & Feldman, 2005). For English learners, structured approaches to teaching writing have been found to be more effective than approaches without structure or scaffolds (Shanahan & Beck, 2006).
All students, especially English learners, will benefit from writing instruction that teaches them how English works. This instruction will help students gain an understanding of text structure and cohesion, use nouns, adverbs, and adjectives effectively to expand and enrich ideas, and connect and condense ideas within sentences (California Department of Education, 2012).
Writers must know about what they write in order to communicate important information. Central to effective writing is the means to express language and thought in a way that allows readers to understand what the writer is saying. Before beginning to write, students should understand both the complex ideas that they would like to convey as well as the necessary grammatical structures needed to convey them effectively (Vermont Writing Collaborative, 2015).
READ 180 Universal embraces the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing and provides the rigorous writing instruction that is necessary for students to become proficient readers and writers. Based on the research of Dr. Steve Graham and Dr. Karen Harris, students learn a process to successfully plan, organize, and write (POW) responses to text. Students have multiple opportunities to write narrative, informative, and argument pieces, and they learn, practice, and apply strategies specific to each of these genres.
In addition to a strategy that will guide them through the writing process, students will learn genre-specific strategies to use as they plan and write narrative, informative, and argument pieces.
In narrative writing, students learn, practice, and apply the WWW+21 strategy; in informative writing, students learn, practice, and apply the TIDE2 strategy; and in argument writing, students learn, practice, and apply the TREE3 strategy.
Throughout Whole- and Small-Group Learning, READ 180 Universal writing instruction emphasizes writing with a purpose and writing that develops content knowledge and reading skills. These purposeful writing activities, and the associated discussions, help students to log the “miles on the tongue” that Dr. Kate Kinsella has found is vitally important to language development for English learners. READ 180 Universal writing instruction provides carefully guided opportunities for students to engage in many different types of writing, from simple sentences to multi-paragraph essays. In paragraph-length constructed response writings and multi-paragraph essays, students follow the steps of the writing process: planning writing, organizing ideas using graphic organizers, composing a draft, and revising for clarity, conventions, and purpose. Writing is then shared through peer feedback and a variety of publishing opportunities. This systematically scaffolded writing process helps students explore and extend their knowledge through writing and guides them in clearly conveying ideas using academic language.
Throughout READ 180 Universal, grammar, usage, and mechanics are taught systematically and in context in accordance with the research of Dr. Kate Kinsella. Analyzing and evaluating a model paper before writing helps make expectations transparent and aids struggling writers in visualizing the demands of the assignment. After writing, students use the routines they are taught during Whole-Group and Small-Group Learning to read, score, and respond to a partner’s writing. These multiple opportunities for feedback provide the support that students— including English learners and students with disabilities—need to gain confidence and independence with English grammar and writing for academic purposes.
In the Student Application (Student App), the Writing Zone engages students in writing activities at appropriate levels of complexity with the supports and scaffolds they need in order to be successful writers. Students practice the WWW+2, TIDE, and TREE strategies and receive the scaffolds, including sentence frames, sentence starters, and graphic organizers, that are most appropriate to their writing levels. They receive immediate personalized feedback in addition to the more detailed feedback provided by peers and their teachers.
As technological and learning advances are increasingly being made, we are at the beginning of what is surely to be the most important, turbulent, and exciting decade in the century for innovations in assessment. Four major forces are pushing these innovations along: technological, social, and economic trends are changing the skills needed for citizenship and employment; the power of personal digital and computing devices and the number of people with daily access to them are increasing exponentially; cognitive science is creating new and powerful insights into how people learn; and the demand for K–12 education learning and assessment tools in the United States is reaching explosive levels that will spur greater investment and innovation (Doorey, 2012).
Effective assessments allow educators to make important claims about the knowledge and skills that students possess. Literacy assessments can enable educators to determine whether students can read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts, to determine whether they can write effectively when analyzing text, and to determine their overall literacy proficiency (Gendron, 2012).
Assessment systems can provide a balanced way to give teachers and schools the information and tools they need to improve teaching and learning so that all students leave high school ready for college and career. Balanced assessment systems include formative assessment practices that improve instruction; interim assessments that are flexible and open and are used for actionable feedback; and summative assessments that are benchmarked to college and career readiness (Gendron, 2012).
Shepherd and Marzola (2011) found that teachers who incorporated formative assessments into their lessons increased student reading achievement scores more than teachers who did not use formative assessments. Chatterji, Koh, Choi, and Iyengar (2009) also found that their researcher-developed formative assessment, the Proximal Assessment for Learner Diagnosis (PALD), was effective for addressing learner needs and thus closing achievement gaps in subject-area domains.
While formative assessments are beneficial for all students, they are particularly helpful for struggling students as they highlight troublesome areas and provide guidance on what needs to be done to overcome them (Black & William, 2009).
Schools that embrace a student-centered learning approach emphasize instruction and assessment that help students connect with and apply what they are learning through culminating performance-based assessments. These schools utilize ongoing, performance-based assessments that focus on mastery. Student- centered schools are more likely to outperform peers on standardized assessments, graduate more students, help more students become eligible for college, and have students that persist in college (Friedlaender et al., 2014).
READ 180 Universal contains a comprehensive system to administer and give actionable feedback for both formative assessments (assessments for learning) and summative assessments (assessments of learning). The READ 180 Universal assessment system provides ongoing information for students, teachers, and administrators throughout the year about student learning and progress.
READ 180 Universal assessments include tools to screen and place students, monitor progress, and provide information that can be used to inform instruction. READ 180 Universal teachers use The Reading Inventory, a scientifically based and validated test, as a screening assessment in the beginning of the year and as a progress-monitoring assessment in the middle and end of the year. The Reading Inventory Lexile measure is one of several data points that are used to inform the students’ learner Profiles. Other contributions to the learner Profile include the students’ interests, their engagement and motivation that are tracked through the Student Application (Student App), and their performance on the Workshop assessments, on HMH Reading Counts! independent reading quizzes, and in the Student App.
In addition to The Reading Inventory, READ 180 Universal includes multiple formal and informal formative assessments to monitor student progress on an ongoing basis. Students can take Interim and End-of-Workshop Assessments during and after each of six Workshops to assess progress in using reading strategies for comprehension.
These embedded assessments are designed to monitor progress and support instruction, and are aligned to core Reading and Language Arts Content Standards. The tests include item formats that students will encounter on Next Generation assessments so that students will develop strategies for attacking these challenging formats and practice the kinds of thinking these items demand. Students may also take Summative Tests at midyear and end of year to assess listening and reading comprehension, critical reading, word-study skills, conventions, and writing. HMH Reading Counts! quizzes assess students’ comprehension of Paperbacks, Audiobooks, and eReads that they complete during Independent Reading.
HMH Teacher Space provides a step-by-step process for formative assessments to take place during Small-Group Learning. This process makes it easy for teachers to quickly and effectively evaluate students and then review the data to inform their instruction. The process includes the following: teacher and tool activities alerting teachers to the lesson’s goals, guiding students through the response activity that measures their performance, examining the Formative Assessment rubric, determining the mastery level of each student, giving options to adapt instruction, and quickly logging student performance level (There, Nearly There, Not Yet) with the formative assessment tracker.
Critical thinking and 21st century skills are assessed at the end of every Workshop, through Projects that assess students’ abilities to apply 21st century skills such as analyzing information, using technology for communication, and engaging in collaborative work. Scoring guides are used to assess these projects, as well as writing assignments and the Respond & Write activities in the Writing Zone. These scoring guides support students and teachers in reviewing students’ work, providing feedback, and revising as necessary.
Technology plays an important role in the READ 180 Universal assessment system. READ 180 Universal’s adaptive technology provides students with personalized feedback and teachers with a powerful tool for progress monitoring as it continuously collects data on students’ growth and mastery of new skills that feeds into the students’ learner Profiles. The Teacher and Leadership Dashboards provide easy access to data from these ongoing assessments, allowing teachers and administrators to efficiently monitor student progress in real time, quickly identify problems, and inform decision making about instruction.
All READ 180 Universal students complete interim- and end-of-year performance assessments that take place after Workshop 3 and Workshop 6. These performance assessments are research projects in which the students choose a topic, research and evaluate sources, and use the process and strategies they have learned for informative writing to write a research paper.
There has been a call for more instruction in higher-level reading skills for adolescents and for professional development for teachers due to the realities of student reading dif culties and teacher lack of preparedness. This has raised serious consideration around the support that needs to be given to struggling readers and the role that teachers play in working toward higher levels of literacy among students (Kamil, Borman, Dole, Kral, Salinger, Torgesen, 2008).
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi level system for maximizing student achievement by integrating ongoing assessment of student progress with increasingly intensive intervention (National Center on Response to Intervention, 2010). RTI organizes intervention into multiple tiers of support for students not making adequate progress (Feldman, 2009). In all tiers of intervention, students benefit from teachers’ use of data to determine whether students are making the desired academic gains, and then whether they need modifications in their curricula, materials, or instruction (Duffy, 2008; Fuchs, L.S., & Fuchs, D., 2007).
The What Works Clearinghouse identified five recommendations to assist educators in providing appropriate instruction for struggling students: 1) Screen all students for potential reading problems at the beginning and middle of the year; 2) Provide time for differentiated reading instruction for all students based on assessments of students’ current reading level; 3) Provide intensive, systematic instruction on up to three foundational reading skills in small groups to students who score below the benchmark score on universal screening; 4) Monitor the progress of Tier 2 students at least once a month; and 5) Provide intensive instruction on a daily basis that promotes the development of the various components of reading proficiency to students who show minimal progress after reasonable time in Tier 2 small-group instruction (Gersten, Compton, Connor, Dimino, Santoro, Linan- Thompson, & Tilly, 2008).
Within the RTI framework, districts can assist students in transitioning to college-and career-ready standards. The focus of an RTI approach supports diverse learners in accessing and meeting rigorous state standards (McInterney & Elledge, 2013).
Parental involvement is an important part of the RTI model. Schools that implement RTI provide parents with information about their child’s progress, the instruction and interventions used, the teachers and staff who are providing the intervention, and the academic and/ or behavioral goals for their child (National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2015).
READ 180 Universal is a Tier 2 intervention that offers powerful tools for the systematic screening and progress monitoring that are central to an RTI approach, along with customizable training and professional development to ensure that teachers can use the program with a wide array of students.
The Reading Inventory serves as a screening assessment in the beginning of the year to determine students’ reading level and place them at the appropriate level in Student Application (Student App). The Reading Inventory can then be administered multiple times over the year as a progress-monitoring tool—an essential component of an RTI approach.
For additional progress monitoring, READ 180 Universal provides a variety of curriculum-embedded, criterion-referenced assessments, including passages for oral reading fluency assessment and Workshop Assessments, to regularly track student progress. Workshop Assessments are administered both in the middle of and after every ReaL Book Workshop to assess students’ mastery of comprehension and writing skills taught during Whole- and Small-Group Learning. These assessments can be used by teachers to inform future individual and Small-Group instruction.
In Student App, continuous targeted diagnostic assessments check for mastery of skills and identify individual instructional needs. The grouping tool on the Teacher Dashboard groups students according to their specific needs identified through ongoing assessment, allowing teachers to easily and efficiently plan differentiated instruction and intervention.
READ 180 offers a wealth of resources for differentiating and adapting instruction based on students’ needs. Student App provides individualized instruction, along with immediate personalized feedback accompanied by modeling and guided practice. By constantly collecting ongoing data about student performance, Student App provides critical information for teachers about student progress and individual needs. The Teacher Dashboard then allows teachers to efficiently group students according to their needs for targeted follow-up instruction, while the Student Dashboard encourages students to take ownership over their own learning.
From its inception, READ 180 Universal was designed to address the needs of struggling readers. The research behind the development of READ 180’s innovative software was initially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education. Through adaptive technology, individualized instruction, and high-interest materials, READ 180’s comprehensive program provides the direct, systematic instruction necessary to effectively support struggling readers. The program also offers motivational support that improves student confidence and attitudes toward reading and school.
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi level system for maximizing student achievement by integrating ongoing assessment of student progress with increasingly intensive intervention (National Center on Response to Intervention, 2010). RTI organizes intervention into multiple tiers of increasingly intense interventions for those students not making adequate progress in Tier 1 (Feldman, 2009). Tier 2 and 3 interventions are intensified by increasing instructional time, decreasing group size, matching materials to students’ levels, modifying presentation modes, and providing corrective feedback.
RTI supports progress monitoring for all students. In all tiers of intervention, students benefit from teachers’ use of data to determine whether students are making the desired academic gains, and then whether they need modi cations in their curricula, materials, or instruction (Fuchs, L.S., & Fuchs, D., 2007; Duffy, 2008).
Collecting ongoing data on student progress is vital to documenting student growth, planning instruction, and determining the need for intervention (Fisher & Ivey, 2006; National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 2008; Stecker, Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D., 2005; Torgesen, 2002). Streamlining the regular collection and examination of data, as well as modifying instruction based on what is learned from student data, can benefit all students and can be a powerful tool to help make a teacher’s job more efficient rather than more difficult (Duffy, 2008).
For students with disabilities, it is particularly important to use student performance assessment data to monitor progress in order to determine continuing instructional/remedial needs (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 2008).
Differentiated instruction meets students where they are—matching instruction to meet their assessed needs. Research demonstrates that differentiated instruction can significantly improve student achievement (Allan & Goddard, 2010). For students with disabilities, individually targeted instruction in reading skills can improve reading achievement, both in the targeted skill and in more generalized measures of literacy (Shanahan, 2008; Vaughn & Denton, 2008).
In a recent research synthesis by Wanzek and colleagues, strong evidence was found to support three instructional recommendations for students with reading dif culties in Grades 4 to 12: 1) Provide explicit vocabulary instruction; 2) Use direct and explicit comprehension strategy instruction; and 3) Provide struggling readers with intensive and individualized interventions. From this finding, the authors recommended intensive intervention efforts for students with reading dif culties in Grades 4 through 12 who do not perform at or near grade level, and supplemental, small-group instruction for extended periods of time (Wanzek, Vaughn, Scammacca, Metz, Murray, Roberts, & Danielson, 2013).
Teachers who rely mostly on whole-group instruction do not adequately meet the individual needs of students who need extra literacy support. Instead, teachers can use performance data to form small groups of students and teach lessons to target their specific skill needs. Students with disabilities particularly benefit from this type of targeted intensive instruction in small and flexible groups (Avalos, 2006).
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) models provide clearly de ned expectations explicitly taught to all students, opportunity for students to practice the skills, reinforcement for students who meet expectations, and a system for monitoring student progress (Lane, Robertson, & Graham-Bailey, 2006; Sugai & Horner, 2002). PBIS models have been found to be particularly effective in helping students with emotional and behavioral challenges stay on track and experience success (Sugai, Sprague, & Horner, 1999).
READ 180 Universal can help educators meet the needs of students with disabilities through a Response to Intervention (RTI) approach, which is a systematic framework for allocating instructional services and resources in response to students’ individual needs. An RTI framework employs a multi-tiered model of service delivery to promote efficient response to students’ needs. Each tier provides increasingly intensive support structure to ensure that students succeed.
The READ 180 Universal instructional model supports multiple tiers by balancing whole-group instruction with small-group instruction that is targeted to different skills based on students’ needs. During whole-group instruction, the teacher focuses on macro-level skills that all students need. Then, students break into small groups to address their individual needs through adaptive instructional Software, leveled books, and small- group direct instruction in reading, writing, language development, and comprehension. While one small group works on the Topic Software that continuously assesses and provides targeted instruction, another group reads paperbacks, eReads, eBooks, and listens to audio books independently at the appropriate reading level based on the Lexile® Framework for Reading. This instructional model allows teachers to group students to address individual needs based on assessment data.
The READ 180 Universal software offers powerful tools for the systematic screening and progress monitoring that are central to an RTI approach, along with customizable training and professional development to ensure that teachers can use the program with a wide array of students, including students with disabilities.
Independent Reading eBooks and eReads provide numerous supports to help students with disabilities as they read independently. Those supports include a text-to-speech feature, a zoom feature, a digital dictionary, and a highlighting feature. In addtion, Audiobooks feature a reading coach, a narrator who provides comprehension strategies and models uent reading respectively. During Independent Reading, students may also express their learning through book conferences with the teacher, and collaboration and presentation projects.
Following a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model, Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and RTI are integrated throughout READ 180 Universal to provide embedded procedures for increasing student engagement, promoting positive behaviors, and motivating students to succeed. Instructional routines such as Oral Cloze, Think (Write)-Pair-Share, and peer feedback encourage students to engage with the material with scaffolds that structure and support their responses. The instructional routines help to create a learning environment in which students can actively participate in a non threatening and flexible way.
Well-designed blended learning solutions offer many positive benefits for students, especially for struggling students.
Five aspects of technology that can be game changers for students are that it is:
Adaptive technology harnesses Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in that it provides a flexible design from the start that has customizable options. This exibility allows all learners to progress from where they are and not where we would have imagined them to be. In this way, all learners are provided with instruction that is varied and robust enough to be effective (CAST, 2011).
The motivating potential of technology, especially for struggling students, isfivery promising. For almost everyone, especially students caught in a cycle of failure, success is a tremendous motivator.
Many technology-based programs are able to process data and point out improvements in evenfivery small increments. Seeing these improvements is incredibly motivating for students who feel they have never experienced success in school (Hasselbring & Bausch, 2005).
Adaptive technology affords students the opportunity to receive individualized support, learn at their own pace, and receive corrective feedback in real time (Kamil, 2003). Individually targeted instruction in reading skills can improve reading achievement, both in the targeted skill and in more generalized measures of literacy (Shanahan, 2008; Vaughn & Denton, 2008).
Many technology-based programs allow teachers to look up the day-to-day progress of students, see which concepts are holding them back, and then use that information to create an individualized learning plan. When a student spends just a small amount of time using the right kind of software, technology-based programs can quickly assess the student’s skill set, organize the data, and deliver customized data to the teacher, parent, or student (Hasselbring, 2010). A recent report (RAND, 2014) found that students in charter schools that had implemented personalized learning programs improved in reading and math over the national average on standardized tests.
A recent report from the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) cited three factors that affect the achievement of at-risk adolescent students that use educational technology: the interactive nature of the technology, the ability of the technology to encourage students to explore and create rather than repetitively practice skills, and effective interaction between teachers and the technology (Darling-Hammond, Zielezinski, & Goldman, 2014).
READ 180 Universal’s innovative technology harnesses learning theory and pedagogical principles to deliver individualized and personalized instruction tailored to each student’s needs and interests. The adaptive technology embedded into the Student Application (Student App) customizes and scaffolds individual practice and application of word recognition, spelling, vocabulary, language, fluency, comprehension, and writing skills. The adaptive pacing of skills practice in the Student App helps students achieve automaticity, freeing cognitive capacity for higher-order processes. In addition, embedded assessments throughout the Student App are designed to continuously assess and place students according to their levels of mastery of learned and new information, and to customize corrective feedback to students’ specific errors.
The power of READ 180 Universal’s technology is that it enables the program to assess student knowledge and skills, respond to individual student differences, differentiate and scaffold instruction, provide corrective feedback, monitor student progress, and offer teachers data to guide students to become proficient readers and learners. These characteristics constitute instructional practices that have been shown to be highly beneficial to struggling readers, students with disabilities, and English learners.
READ 180 Universal builds a Learner Profile that takes into consideration the students’ mastery of academic skills (measured through their performance on reading comprehension, fluency, word recognition, language/vocabulary, spelling, and writing activities) as well as their academic mindset (measured through their usage and activity in the Student App and help-seeking and challenge-seeking behaviors). The Learner Profile is informed by the FASTT algorithm to consistently provide students with instruction and practice on skills and strategies within their zone of proximal development. In addition, advances in speech recognition technology enable the Student App to monitor their behaviors and provide feedback to ensure that students stay on task.
With an emphasis on teachers as critical players in enhancing student achievement, developing strong professional learning communities plays a big role in improving educational outcomes. Professional Learning Communities add to teacher quality in the following ways (NCTE, 2010):
Educational research has a more direct effect on teacher practices when teachers can see its relevance to their daily practice in the classroom. Professional learning communities allow members to actively seek and carry out research that addresses group concerns and to reflect on the research as a community (Vanderlinde & vanBraak, 2010).
Focusing on a community of teachers’ inquiry into questions about instruction and students’ learning deepens teachers’ understanding of student learning and allows the collective capacity of the community to address instructional dilemmas (Webb, Vulliamy, Anneli, Hamalainen, & Polkionen, 2009).
Professional learning communities encourage transformative learning as participants with varying backgrounds, expertise, and experience are able to offer multiple perspectives on classroom practice. All participants are contributors in working toward more creative and effective methods of teaching every unique student (Barab, Barnett, & Squire, 2002).
By participating in learning communities, educators are more likely to understand and demonstrate the kind of lifelong learning that they desire for their students. The awareness about learning that comes from participating in a learning community creates connections between assessment and instruction for both teachers and learners (Birenbaum, Kimron, Shilton, & Shahaf-Barzilay, 2009).
READ 180 Universal provides resources to help teachers and families support students’ learning and connect with the READ 180 Universal classroom on a personalized and national level. The Educator Community site gives READ 180 teachers the opportunity to find helpful resources, connect with other READ 180 professionals, and engage in professional learning. The site is located at hmhco.com/educatorcommunity. This is a one-stop shop for READ 180 teachers to download classroom resources, ask questions, read about relevant topics and best practices from our expert teacher bloggers, and watch professional learning videos on a range of topics.
Having a community space for educators and families is extremely important for educational development, as teachers and parents are provided with a professional forum to discuss student progress, look for evidence of student thinking, identify common errors, and discuss how to better facilitate learning experiences.
Ever mindful of the critical role of parents in their children’s education, we consider parents as powerful members of professional learning communities. Each ReaL Book Workshop includes several strategies to support teachers in involving and engaging parents. These strategies include soliciting feedback, sharing expectations, parent/ caregiver volunteer opportunities, and ongoing communication. In addition, READ 180 Universal provides information for parents on supporting students, ReaL Book work at home including helpful tips on the role of homework in reinforcing students learning.
These strategies are available in the Teachers Edition at the Workshop Launch, throughout the texts, during process writing instruction, and at the Workshop close. Parent reports of student progress as well as letters to parents are available in multiple languages. Access to digital books helps students engage with their families over texts.
Families and caregivers can go online to the Family Portal to learn about READ 180 Universal. As described previously, the site includes a video, 60 Seconds to School Success, providing tips for families about how to support their children’s literacy achievement, and offers links to additional resources and research to help caregivers understand the needs of struggling readers. In addition, the Family Portal provides a space for sharing success stories and experiences with teachers and other READ 180 Universal families.
In order for a child to be successful in school, there are numerous critical roles that families play: supporters of learning, encouragers of perseverance and determination, models of educational practices, and advocates of appropriate school environments for their child. Families need the opportunity to learn and grow along with their children and support the learning and growth of their children in order for partnerships between families and schools to succeed (Mapp & Kuttner, 2014).
In order for a child to be successful in school, there are numerous critical roles that families play: supporters of learning, encouragers of perseverance and determination, models of educational practices, and advocates of appropriate school environments for their child. Families need the opportunity to learn and grow along with their children and support the learning and growth of their children in order for partnerships between families and schools to succeed (Mapp & Kuttner, 2014).
Schools and districts that successfully engage families in their children’s learning are able to strike a balance between pushing families to support learning and pulling the families into the school community. These schools view families as partners in their children’s education and provide a collaborative environment that builds relationships between educators and families. They have frameworks that encourage both learning at home and collaborative decision making (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson, & Davies, 2007).
Having books in the home helps establish a reading culture that continues from generation to generation within families and is independent of education and class. This creates an interest in and desire for books that will promote the skills and knowledge needed to foster both literacy and numeracy, thus leading to lifelong academic advantages (Evans et al., 2010).
Children whose parents have lots of books are nearly 20% more likely to finish college. Books in the home are a stronger predictor of college graduation than the educational levels of the parents (Evans et al., 2010).
It isfivery important that families and educators make a rm commitment to encourage adolescent students to read outside of school by finding ways to engage them with texts over the summer, as well as before and after school. Moreover, it is critical that we encourage them to make reading a part of their lifestyle (Alexander, 2014).
For a child to become a reader, time spent with parents or caregivers who engage with their children with books—whether through close readings or discussion of pictures—is what is most necessary. When children not only have access to books but can also share them with reading mentors who love books and reading, they are much more likely to thrive as readers (Heath, 1983; Bridges, 2014).
READ 180 Universal provides resources to help families support students’ learning and connect with the READ 180 Universal classroom. Families and caregivers can go online to the Family Portal to learn about READ 180 Universal instruction and materials. The site includes a video, 60 Seconds to School Success, providing tips for families about how to support their children’s literacy achievement, and offers links to additional resources and research to help caregivers understand the needs of struggling readers. In addition, the Family Portal provides a space for sharing success stories and experiences with teachers and other READ 180 Universal families.
Each ReaL Book Workshop includes four or five strategies to support teachers in involving and engaging parents, including:
These strategies are available in the Teacher’s Edition throughout the texts and during process writing instruction. Parent reports of student progress as well as letters to parents are available in multiple languages. Access to digital books helps students engage with their families over texts.