We address the core thinking and language processes so learning can be approached with curiosity and confidence.
Katy and Aaron were fluent readers and could verbally recall a story or lesson from school. They began with a main idea and gave the important detail. However, a written summary from either of these students did not match the verbal summary. The “Talking Aaron” and “Writing Aaron” looked like two different students. Katy was a 4th grader and Aaron was a 9th grader.
Putting thoughts to paper is a complex task. Writing involves the integration of: organization, brainstorming, grammar and spelling (syntax and semantics), short and long term memory, visual-motor processing (handwriting), and attention. No wonder the task is so overwhelming for so many people!
At FRL, Katy and Aaron discovered the structure in expository styles: informative, compare, contrast, persuasive, and operational. Then they explored brainstormers and developed a process of first organizing their ideas and then transferring the ideas to a paragraph format with transition words.
Using Trish Padgett’s “Write to Read” process, they used their writing tools to summarize reading material. The looked for transition words to predict text structure and identified the function of the information in tier reading material. Reading and writing became connected processes rather than separate tasks.
Although Katy and Aaron we several grades apart in school, the same process supported both of their needs. The structure of their writing does not change from grade to grade. The complexity of the vocabulary and sentence structure and the use of figurative language changes as a student progresses through school.
Katy and Aaron made significant improvements and their confidence soared. Both students went from writing a disjointed 5-sentence paragraph to a 10-12 sentence paragraph with elaboration, detail, and transition words.
Throughout early elementary school, John’s parents noticed that he was having trouble with reading. It seemed to take him longer to read books and complete his homework. John tried to sound out words, but he still made errors in reading and spelling.
An assessment identified good phonological awareness, however John demonstrated difficulty integrating the sounds and how to spell them. He did not know the orthographic expectancies (rules) that govern reading and spelling. In fact, John did not think that there were patterns or consistencies to English words. He said, “English is just hard.”
At FRL, John practiced thinking about sounds within words and syllables and discovered the rules. He combined the two to build word attack skills. John learned to recognize the sounds within syllables, rather than looking for individual letters. He quickly recognized affixes and broke multi syllable words. John’s accuracy improved and his confidence grew. His reading fluency also improved, and John began reading for meaning.
After completing 60 sessions, John’s paragraph reading improved from the 16th to the 75th percentile.
Jake had strong reading and spelling skills. And, he was a good writer. John’s parents contacted FRL because he struggled with test taking and organization. Also, he would complete assignments but not turn them in. Why would Jake take the time to do the work and not follow through with turning in assignments?
Study skills and organization are an important part of academics. However, these skills should not be assumed with students who have the basic skills. Self-regulating and planning are aspects of “Executive Function”. Many students need mentoring and consistent practice to develop and apply these skills.
Jake attended FRL 3 times per week for a semester. We integrated his course load with a planner, introduced study skills, and reorganized his backpack and binder. Jake experienced success with his study skills and test taking, and he knew these skills would help him be successful in college. Jake held himself accountable with following through and planning ahead.