Readfield tries reading differently

READFIELD – It’s time for reading class in the second grade at Readfield Elementary School.

Rather than remain in their assigned classrooms, students from the school’s two second-grade classes combine forces, and their teachers break them into reading groups based on ability level.

In those groups, a teacher starts with a mini-lesson before students break into even smaller groups where they address the reading skills that require the most attention.

The plans for the introductory lesson and group sessions are the result of collaboration among Readfield’s second-grade teachers and literacy instructors. The small-group setup allows teachers to teach only the skills those students need, rather than teach a broad swath of skills to a group of students at a variety of ability levels.

It’s all part of a new approach to reading instruction Readfield Elementary School teachers began using at the start of the school year, when Title I literacy specialist Maria Rungi arrived at the school. Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen saw the approach in action May 10 during his visit to the school as part of his statewide listening tour.

“We can teach a lot of similar skills” in small groups, Rungi said.

The approach to reading instruction is also part of Readfield Elementary School’s approach to Response to Intervention, a state requirement that all Maine schools set up a system of student interventions that allow teachers to deploy strategies that cater to specific students’ needs as those needs become apparent.

Readfield teachers determine the reading groups to which students are assigned based primarily on scores from two exams: the Developmental Reading Assessment and Northwest Evaluation Association testing.

Rungi calls the small-group setup the “push-in” model. That’s because some students spend the small-group time reading independently and conferencing individually with Rungi about their progress while others are “pushed into” groups that address skills that need attention.

“The smaller groups are even more specific to their skills,” Rungi said.

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