My Bookshelf

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can Reading Recovery Go Digital?

First off, I am not a trained Reading Recovery teacher, although I do have similar training in a framework called Early Reading Empowerment (ERE).  Reading Recovery is a one on one lesson designed for first grade struggling readers and is one of the few reading interventions that has been shown to close the achievement gap for students at risk of reading failure.  Reading Recovery teachers are highly trained and receive rigorous professional development throughout their tenure.  The materials necessary for a Reading Recovery lesson are rather simple: magnetic letters, a small whiteboard, sentence strips, markers, writing journal for the student, running record forms, and leveled texts. The basic framework of a Reading Recovery lesson (or other stepsister frameworks like ERE) is something like this:
  • 10 Minutes: rereading books for fluency practice, reading the new text introduced yesterday (while the teacher takes a running record
  • 10 Minutes: word work and writing
  • 10 Minutes: reading a new book at my instructional reading level
It is necessary to note that Reading Recovery teachers are not only taught how to conduct a lesson with these materials, but more importantly, they are taught specific coaching language to use with students in order to help them internalize reading strategies and become independent problem solvers.  So although conducting this lesson digitally might enhance the intervention, it is ultimately the teacher's interaction, decision making skills, and ability to coach the student that will make the lesson successful. 

I attempted to digitize my own ERE lesson today by downloading several apps that would substitute for the lesson's traditional materials. (I will follow this post with a review of those apps). For the first 10 minutes of the lesson, I  read a leveled books with my student.  These texts had been previously downloaded and read by the student so I was able to use the texts again for fluency practice and the running record.  For the next 10 minutes, I used the Whiteboard HD app to conduct the writing portion of the lesson (although I used my own paper sentence strip for the cut up sentence) and a magnetic letter app for the word work. For the last 10 minutes, I used another digital text that I downloaded. 

Overall, the lesson went well (although not all of the apps were to my liking). My student was engaged and enjoyed using the iPad (although, anecdotally, I find most first graders in a one on one intervention to be engaged even without an iPad). Logistically, I appreciated the ease of this lesson as all of the materials I needed were literally right at my fingertips.  Eventually, it would be great to have an app that can complete the running record.   That way the teacher could keep all records digitally and track data accordingly.  Ideally, for the lesson to be incredibly smooth, both student and teacher would have an iPad so the teacher could monitor, take notes, and record data.  The student could then take his or her own iPad home for practice on today's book (and even read other books selected by the child).  I think it won't be long before the apps are fine tuned (and hopefully affordable) and Reading Recovery teachers can feasibly go digital.  If you have any suggestions for strong apps that would fit well into this lesson, please leave a comment.

If you would like to learn more about Reading Recovery, click here

1 comment:

Allison Ellis said...

Hi Colleen,
Love your blog! I work with a number of children's media companies and wanted to introduce you to Learning Touch (, publisher of the bestselling FirstWords series of early literacy apps for toddlers and the newly released Bob Books Reading Magic, based on the bestselling learning to read series published by Scholastic.

I'd love to introduce you to these apps and give you some promo codes so you can see them for yourself. I can be reached at Looking forward to hearing from you soon!