Reading Recovery

(Adapted from New Zealand Information for Schools)

Reading Recovery from MFNERC on Vimeo.

Reading Recovery is an effective early intervention program designed to dramatically reduce the number of children with literacy difficulties in schools. It is a second chance prevention program delivered to the lowest achieving students in Grade One. These at-risk children have, in addition to classroom instruction, daily individual teaching which brings them to average levels of achievement for their classes in a short time. Reading Recovery is designed for children who are the lowest readers in the ordinary classroom without exception.

The adequate provision of Reading Recovery in a school means that in terms of literacy:

• Every child can have access to the best possible learning opportunities
• Every child can be helped to read their full potential
• Equity can be achieved and maintained

Reading Recovery is not a classroom program for teaching beginning reading and is not used by teachers for teaching class groups.

All children need the opportunity to participate in a good literacy program with sensitive well-trained teachers in the first year of school. Good first teaching is essential.

While most children move easily into reading and writing programs, some find the transition difficult. Most of those who find it difficult can be helped in individual lessons to learn to operate in the same way and reach the same levels of independence as proficient readers. Reading Recovery provides intensive, individual help for children having difficulty in reading and writing after one year at school. Children with very low achievement are helped in a surprisingly short time to make rapid progress and catch up with their peers (in approximately 12 to 20 weeks).

When children have made sufficient progress and are judged able to cope well with reading and writing in their classrooms, the Reading Recovery lesson series is discontinued. These children are able to work successfully in their classroom with an average group, having independent ways of increasing their own control of reading and writing so that can continue to learn on their own. As soon as one child leaves the intervention, another enters. This continues throughout the year.

Reading Recovery arises out of an extensive program of research and development carried out by Marie Clay of the University of Auckland. This research, beginning in 1976 and requested by teachers, explored the range and variability of reading and writing behaviours in six-year-old children having marked difficulty. A set of teaching procedures for dealing with these difficulties were developed.

Children entering Reading Recovery in each school are those in the regular classroom having marked difficulty in reading and writing at six years of age. No child in the regular classroom is excluded. It is recommended that schools implement the program for the low literacy achievers in their schools, without excluding anyone for any reason.

Each child has an intensive program of daily instruction which is additional to the regular class literacy activities. The teaching is individual in a one-to-one setting. The lesson series is different for every child. The child’s competencies are the starting point and the intervention moves from these competencies towards what he or she needs to learn, responding always to what the child is trying to do. The focus is on comprehending messages (in reading) and constructing written messages (in writing) so highest priority is given to children reading many books and writing their own stories.

Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders organize and provide the In-service Course for Reading Recovery teachers and offer professional support for trained Reading Recovery teachers working in the field.

The In-service Course for teachers is essential to the implementation of a successful Reading Recovery program. Those undertaking the training are successful, experienced early years teachers. The year long course begins with guidance in administering the tasks from An Observation of Early Literacy Achievement, followed by bi-weekly in-service sessions in which the teachers learn to use the Reading Recovery teaching procedures. At the same time, and throughout the year, the teachers teach Reading Recovery children, learning on the job. The Reading Recovery Teacher Leader also visit the teachers in the schools to offer individual support.

The objectives of the course are that teachers:

• Develop their understanding of the reading and writing process
• Become competent in using the specific Reading Recovery teaching procedures for individual programs
• Are able to critically evaluate their work and that of their peers

Following training, Reading Recovery teachers attend support sessions to discuss the main assumptions and practices of the program and its operation in their schools.

To maximize the benefits of training:

• The school should give full support to the training teacher
• The teacher nominated for training should be experienced in reading instruction for children in early years
• The teacher in training should not have school responsibilities that make it difficult to complete the course
• The course should take precedence over additional responsibilities given to the teacher during the training year
• A suitable area should be designated for the teacher to work with individual pupils
• Funds should be allocated for the purchase on continual updating of books for Reading Recovery
• The teacher should be able to both
o Work individually with children for two hours or more each day that school is in sessions, and
o Also attend regular 2 ½ hour in-service sessions
• During the first two or three weeks of the course these sessions are closely-spaced and some flexibility in timetabling may be necessary. By week four or five, the pattern of bi-weekly sessions will be established.
• The teacher attends all sessions (two or three times during the year the teacher brings a child to the sessions for a demonstration lesson).
• Reading Recovery teacher leaders visit training and previously trained Reading Recovery teachers for discussions, assistance and guidance.
• After the year in training, Reading Recovery teachers should have time to attend support sessions eight times each year as these sessions have been found to assist in maintain the quality and effectiveness of the program.

Successful implementation of Reading Recovery in a school depends upon:

• A school policy to run an effective program
• A team approach for at-risk children
• Continuity of the program within the school
• Adequate staff for the number of children needing help
• A close check that all children needing help are receiving it
• Contact with parents of children in the intervention to inform them about a place for their child in Reading Recovery, to ensure their support, and to invite them to visits and discussions

Each year data is collected from all schools operating Reading Recovery by the Teacher Leaders. This is collated by the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery. The information is used to monitor implementation nationally and serves to provide an overview of the program’s achievements.
Using information available, schools prepare their own reports to demonstrate the effectiveness of Reading Recovery and its relationship to the school program. Put together by school teams, reports could include information on how many children entered the intervention, the number who had their lesson series discontinued, the plans for the children who were recommended for longer term support (e.g. to be continued in the following year, or referred for specialist supports), and planning for future needs.

The Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders are the resource on professional aspects of the intervention and they assist local administration with the organization and administration of Reading Recovery. Currently, there are two Teacher Leaders from the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre providing the In-service Course for Teachers from First Nations Schools in Manitoba, although through a collaborative partnership with Reading Recovery and the Province, the doors to the closest Training Centre are open to First Nations Schools.

For additional information about Reading Recovery, please contact:
Gloria D. Sinclair
Reading Recovery Teacher Leader
Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre
Interlake Reading Recovery Training Centre
Peguis, MB R0C 3J0
Phone: 204 645-2164 ex. 111

Evannah Braun
Reading Recovery Teacher Leader
Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre
Northern Reading Recovery Training Centre
Thompson, MB
Phone: 877-506-1568 ex. 4002