08 Jun

If you’ve ever tried to teach a child anything that does not naturally interest him or her, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of “Why do we need to know this?” Today I’m sharing the why behind Reading Champs. By supplementing in the areas where kids are struggling, we can truly change their lives!

Why Do We All Need to Know This?

As parents, you can take the lead in ensuring that your child has the competitive edge, prepared to excel and compete for seats in the best colleges and universities or in any career path.

Concerned parents can and will play a major role in their children’s success. It’s a fact. Students are not reading any better despite increasing amounts of money poured into schools through federal programs such as No Child Left Behind. The most recent federal test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed that only 35 percent of fourth graders and 36 percent of eighth graders are proficient readers. The US Department of Education and many states are currently mandating a common core curriculum.

This is just one of the reasons families are opting for alternative education environments. Because of the emphasis on preparing for high-stakes testing, children are not instructed in other important subjects. Home teaching, tutoring groups, peer-tutoring, charter schools, online schools, and innovative practices within traditional classroom environments are challenging teaching methods that have dominated the education community for more than a century.

Many children, some estimates as high as 50 percent, need additional assistance in mastering state standards and preparing for high-stakes standardized tests. This is true across the board, especially in the critical areas of literacy and reading, as evidenced by the NAEP scores.

Everyone teaching students to read has been looking for classroom- tested techniques to expand their inventory of tried-and-true methods and tools for their “teacher’s toolbox.”

The Reading Champs Common Sense Mini Lessons (CSML) program is intended to support—not replace—school curricula and reading programs. It provides a supplement for professional and nonprofessional “coaches,” parents, tutors, classroom teaching assistants, and hardworking teachers. This “easy-start” how-to primer helps all students become better readers. It also helps connect the technical language of the school and classroom with real-life, at-home teaching and tutoring.

Reading Champs helps you know where to start and how to proceed with a structured, skill-based program. The wisest sages gave us the only real answer when they said, “Start at the very beginning.”

This is the plan for my CSML instructional skill handbooks library. I start at the beginning and move upward. Following these easy-to-understand, step-by-step, research-proven reading activities for students and coaches to do together in one-hour units or chunks of twenty minutes or less makes teaching reading much easier.

However, and most important, this series empowers those working with frustrated, struggling, and often failing, readers. Teachers and teaching assistants find new ideas to fill learning gaps or validate and strengthen what is already working well.

To ensure that no child is left behind, it is important to foster a seamless, coordinated effort to reach and teach children at home as well as at school. Since parents are children’s first and best teaching partners, well-informed parents and caregivers can assist with timely and appropriate intervention.

With all the educational stakeholders on the same page, teachers can share these mini lessons with families for helpful reinforcing lessons and extension activities for at-home tutoring. Individual instructional mini lessons are intended to assist Reading Champs coaches, and their students, in homeschool and other self-directed instructional programs in initial learning and unit review activities. Each title represents a single instructional unit, which is intended to

  • encourage phonemic awareness and basic phonics (pk–K–1);
  • teach decoding and word recognition (K–6); • increase reading rate and fluency (K–6);
  • build vocabulary, correct spelling, and concept development (K–12);
  • read for meaning: structural features of texts/literature (K–12);
  • build confidence based on comprehension;
  • demonstrate that readers can become self-teachers in almost any subject; and
  • create a “Recreational Reading” attitude.

About the Reading Champs CSML Coaches’ Handbook

Use of graphics is limited intentionally to provide maximum information while keeping the number of pages and the cost of the materials lower for the user.

Each CSML section is a quick read for reading coaches, reducing lesson prep times and providing customized lessons to meet the needs of individual students. They are not intended to act as instructional readings for individual students. Although sample lesson plans are provided, the reading materials should be selected by the parent, coach, or tutor based on student interests and observed capabilities.

The library is presented as forty-nine topical sessions. Content and recommended sequencing of mini lessons is organized and aligned with the California State Board of Education Reading/Language Arts Framework, which was originally released in 1999 and revised in 2007. Additionally, because basic skills are universally accepted, the lessons align with most federal and state curricular frameworks and standards.

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