We work primarily with elementary schools to set up processes to help identify and catch up students who are behind in the three skills areas which include learned skills, processing skills, and mindset/character skills. Our focus is to help prevent reading difficulties, but many of the same processes and tools can also help older students who struggle with reading and learning.
We believe that schools must allocate sufficient resources and focus on grades K-2 to catch up students who are behind before they fail to achieve the 3rd grade reading milestone. it is better to "plug the leak" rather than continue to try and get better at bailing water (remediation).
Most children who struggle with reading entered kindergarten one to three years behind in the foundational pre-reading skills that empower reading success in grades K-3. Most at-risk students have the innate capacity to learn but have a significant language awareness and vocabulary gap and are unfamiliar with how text works because they were not talked to and read to enough in their early years. When they enter school, they don’t grasp the alphabetic principle (the concept that sounds are represented by meaningful written symbols) or develop vocabulary quickly enough to keep pace with peers who, through more extensive experience, have better assimilated the principles of the language. In general, most schools do a fair job of teaching grade-level curriculum, but struggle to catch up the children who are behind. This is especially true for students who have weak processing skills. Most reading curricula do not address this skill gap.
Ideally the family centric Read--Talk--Play element of the Movement will help to better prepare more children for school. However, schools have to be prepared to handle students who are behind. Schools must immerse students in grades K-2 with the exposure to language and skill development activities that will catch them up to grade level and beyond.
One school in particular has developed and used this "flooding model" with great success. This school, Soaring Eagles Elementary School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was named the Number One Title 1 School in the nation previously because of their success with this model. Many schools have replicated the model also to great success.
The school organizes each grade K-2 into groups according to skill level and development needs. Those students with the greatest need receive the most support. The school hires nine paraprofessionals to work with teachers to give students the individual attention needed.
Refined Immersion Model
Many schools do not have the resources to hire sufficient staff to implement the Soaring Eagles flooding model. RSM works with schools and community organizations to recruit, train, and manage volunteers from the local community to implement the model in combination with a variety of online assessment and training tools to give each student the individual training they need to catch up and succeed. In cases where volunteers cannot meet the full need, funding will be sought to hire contractors as appropriate to supplement staff and volunteers cost effectively.
Levels of Implementation
Schools can choose to implement the full program or any module. Each module is summarized below.
1. Parent Engagement
Parents still play a critical role in helping their children become successful readers in grades K-2 even though schools are perceived as having the primary role in reading instruction at this stage. RSM can help schools to better engage parents through the community-driven Read-Talk-Play Initiative. For more information, please see the Parent Section.
2. Assessments/screening tools
Most every school already provides sufficient academic assessments. However, many in grades K-2 require one-on-one testing which is very time consuming. RSM has teamed with an online assessment provider that can help schools to become more efficient, Let's Go Learn.
One of the key causes of learning struggles are weak processing skills, such as working memory, processing speed or auditory processing. Traditionally this type of testing was done one-on-one and is very resource intensive so few students are assessed. We have teamed with an online cognitive skill assessment to bring this resource to all students. Knowing the learning skill profile for every student is critical to addressing weak processing skills. This is the ideal tool to help define the proper interventions for Response to Intervention Programs.
The Value of Assessing Processing Skills
3. Reading Kingdom
Summary, How Reading Kingdom is Different from other Reading Programs
Reading Kingdom stands alone in its approach to reading instruction. Their website has a lot of background materials to explain their patented approach. Their program is designed for ages 4-10, but we focus on kindergarten and 1st grade.
There are two basic approaches to teaching reading, whole language and phonics. Phonics has become the predominant approach. However, for struggling students phonics can be vey confusing because the students lack an understanding of print concepts and a general exposure to language and text. At-risk students first need a better exposure to words in context and an early sense of reading success. Phonics is still important, but it needs to be in the right context.
Reading Kingdom also addresses skills most reading programs miss or gloss over. Please read the summary above for a more complete explanation.
Many struggling students have weak processing skills. CogRead provides an integrated online training system to train the core processing skills that are foundational to reading success. It also provides simple tools to help train core reading skills that require more intensive one-on-one attention than what most teachers have the time to provide. This includes letter sounds, vocabulary, and auditory processing skills.