So I don’t get in on the action in the high school any more. When a student refused to comply with a reasonable request to go to Internal Suspension, I didn’t hear about it until hours later. Where was I? In a kindergarten classroom, on chairs too small for my 6′ frame, getting hugs and having a blast.
We are piloting three reading series in our K-6 classrooms right now. In addition, we have all teachers trained in Orton Gillingham and teachers who aren’t piloting are using Orton Gillingham. We are right in the middle of evaluation and heading toward decision making. I entered this pilot year completely opposed to Orton Gillingham as a component in our developed reading program (I saw it as only an intervention). I can tell you that there is certain success happening in those K-2 classrooms, with OG, that cannot be denied.
Like today. With five year old students who were EXCITED about reading paragraphs and writing six word sentences. Five year olds who know rules like “C or K and sometimes both”. Students who entered our classroom in September recognizing only 9 letters of the alphabet and now are reading multiple sentences with ease. And I stopped the students who read to me at the end of every line, asking comprehension questions that they nailed. Had they seen the passage before today? Nope, they just read it through independently once before reading it to me.
I know there’s doubt about it out there. That some wonder if it kills any joy of reading we could possibly foster. And I have to say I’ve not liked it at the 3-4 grades, it seems painful. But that’s because those kids are old enough to know they should be reading already. They are already a bit embarassed when they can’t. Five year olds are rocking the house with the knowledge that they are READING and tackling new passages with ease. I’m loving what I see because it’s building confidence and that’s what fosters a love of reading.
Tomorrow we’ll work all day to evaluate all of the teacher feedback, the Dibels results, the interviews with teachers and start to come to a decision. We’ll realize that a reading program, consistently taught by all K-6 teachers, including a planned writing program and great children’s literature will take our students to greater success.
I don’t know what the committee will determine as its final recommendation. There are teachers who have fallen in love with their pilots and who advocate strongly for adoption. But I have to say, those kindergarten and first grade students will be in my mind all day long.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s nothing better that we can do for our students than teach them to read, write, speak and listen well–to see the written word as their personal ticket to the world. To discover reading and writing and all that it can do for them.