WWPS implements Reading Recovery program training site

Program supports first-grade students in reading, writing

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published January 30, 2018

 Photo by Deb Jacques  Reading Recovery teacher leader Richelle Barkley, left, works with Westwood Elementary first-grade student Karli Pete at school Jan. 25.

Photo by Deb Jacques Reading Recovery teacher leader Richelle Barkley, left, works with Westwood Elementary first-grade student Karli Pete at school Jan. 25.

Photo by Deb Jacques

WARREN — On the morning of Jan. 25, Westwood Elementary School first-grade student Karli Pete sat at a table with Reading Recovery teacher leader Richelle Barkley for her daily one-on-one Reading Recovery session.

For 30 minutes under Barkley’s guidance, Pete read from books, wrote a brief sentence about clocks, sorted magnetic letters on a whiteboard and more, all in an effort to strengthen her literacy skills.

“Can we read the monkey book?” Pete asked.

“We’ll read the monkey book tomorrow,” Barkley promised.

Pete is among 84 Warren Woods Public Schools students currently in Reading Recovery, a short-term early literacy intervention program for first-grade students who need additional instruction with reading and writing. The goal is for first-grade students to develop effective reading and writing strategies to work within an average range of classroom performance.

The 2017-18 school year marks the first time that Warren Woods has been a Macomb Area Reading Recovery Site. Pete said she enjoys the time she spends with Barkley.

“I like when I sit in here,” Pete said. “She has all the easy books so I can read.”

“That’s because you are a good reader,” Barkley responded, adding that the reading material is challenging enough for Pete, but not to the point that she becomes frustrated.

Reading Recovery, developed by New Zealand educator Marie M. Clay, provides daily one-on-one, 30-minute lessons taught by a trained teacher. The program lasts 12 to 20 weeks, depending on the needs of the student. In Reading Recovery, teachers work one on one with first-grade students who are in the lowest 20th percentile of their reading comprehension instruction.

“The main goal of the intervention is to accelerate reading and writing so students can catch up with their peers,” Barkley said. “We look at lessons and at ways to support the child. The ultimate goal is reading independence in the classroom.”    

Along with Barkley, there are six WWPS literacy specialists who have been trained in Reading Recovery and are working with students. There are five other classroom teachers who are undergoing Reading Recovery training, and the program is offered at all three Warren Woods elementary schools. Roseville Community Schools also is part of the WWPS Reading Recovery Site and has two teachers who have completed training.

Warren Woods has partnered with Oakland University to provide teacher training for the program. The teachers attend training courses once a week for three hours after school. The training is held from August through June, and WWPS Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kara Beal said teachers receive eight college credits.

The program in Warren Woods is set up so the teachers undergoing training provide Reading Recovery instruction to the first-grade students in the program. While they are working with students, the six trained Reading Recovery teachers take over as the classroom teachers.

Beal said the classroom teachers undergoing training spend about 25 percent of their day providing Reading Recovery. As a teacher leader, Barkley conducts school visits as another component of the program. The Reading Recovery program is personalized to each child based on his or her reading level.

“We build on what they know,” Barkley said.

To determine which first-grade students would benefit from the program this year, last year’s kindergarten teachers provided this year’s first-grade teachers with a form on each student’s reading level based on high, medium or low performance.

From there, the students underwent an assessment process at the beginning of the school year and were chosen for Reading Recovery based on those results. The students will be tested again after 20 weeks in the program and then again at the end of the school year. The results are compared with other testing, including the Northwest Evaluation Association services that track student learning and achievement. The Reading Recovery program is making a positive impact.

“Reading is the foundation for all other learning,” Beal said. “We are seeing positive results for students.”

Beal said that after a student completes the Reading Recovery program, educators provide other resources and instruction so the student maintains the skills he or she mastered while in Reading Recovery.

“We follow the child and what the child’s needs are,” Barkley said.

According to Beal, Warren Woods school officials are using Title I funding to support the program, as well as funding from the 35A Additional Instructional Time state grant, which can be used for literacy instruction for students in kindergarten through third grade outside, above and beyond the school day.