Before You Jump In
We encourage you to watch this quick tutorial on navigating the website.
Identify your struggling or at-risk readers
Items to print:
Your first step is to get an overall glimpse of your class in terms of reading proficiency. This will help you determine which students need to receive universal instruction, targeted instruction, and possibly modified instruction. This information will also help you form small groups that are conducive to delivering SMARTER intervention in the general education classroom.
Using our data snapshot diamond and the standardized tool you are required to use for grading purposes at your school site, such as the iReady, DRA, DIBELS, Star Test, place your students in the appropriate tiers on this diamond. Watch this short video for more information on using this data snapshot.
Gather baseline information and create goals for your at-risk readers using Pre/Post test
Now that you have used your data snapshot diamond to determine which students are in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, you will want to gather baseline information that relates to their knowledge of phonological awareness, sound symbol knowledge, decoding, and encoding with the use of the Baseline Assessment. This assessment will help you set individual goals and track student data. You can administer the Pretest to your entire class, or you may want to only use it for your Tier 2 & 3 students or at-risk readers.
It is important to note that if you are beginning with the Intermediate level curriculum, you will want to start at Lesson One.
Systematic, sequential, and cumulative programs build on themselves from the most basic to the most complex skills and you need the foundation set to build.
Organize instructional materials
Items to print:
Suggested Literacy Block Plan
This will give you an overview of suggestions for sharing the concepts in Lesson 1 with your whole class for a brief mini-lesson as well as a general small group instruction outline, and spelling homework components that are found in the Additional Activities for each lesson.
Suggested Small Group Instruction Plan
Using this plan, you can see the breakdown of instruction for Groups A, B, C. These groups align to the data snapshot diamond that you completed in Step One. Your at-risk or below grade level readers will be group A. Your on-grade level students will be Group B and your above grade level readers will be Group C. Depending on your class size, you may have more than one of these groups. For example, you may have two Group A’s depending on the number of students you have placed in Tier 2 & 3 on your data snapshot diamond.
The Suggested Small Group Instruction plan guides you in using specific lesson components for each group. These are organized by numbers that correlate to each lesson. Some of these lesson components you will repeat or review each day.
You will want to print and prepare your deck as this will be used at the top of each lesson, especially with your students in Group A who need constant reinforcement of the letter/sound relationships. We prefer to print these cards and put them on a ring that you can easily flip through with your small group.
You will notice that games are woven into our instructional suggestions. We advocate for gamifying concepts as much as possible to increase student engagement as well as to add the necessary multi-sensory component to your instruction.
You can download and print games that align with each lesson from our website in the Members Only Library. For your first lesson, we have listed a number of PA or Phonemic Awareness games at the bottom of the Suggested Small Group Instructional plan that can be played in partners or can be Teacher Led.
As you gain more familiarity with the lessons and structure, you can layer in new games. Each lesson has a game that aligns with the targeted concept.
In the Small Group Instructional Plan, you will also notice that Group C suggests bringing in a Morphology component. This instruction can be used to enhance or compliment the content of the weekly lesson, it should not be used in place of the weekly concept. While students in Group B & C may have strengths in decoding the words that use the targeted phonogram, you want to continue to build their capacity to spell with this concept and understand the rules for using it correctly. We caution you against moving students too quickly through the lesson or assuming they are at a mastery level based merely on reading the words proficiently. The spelling, generalization of the rule, and independent application of the rule in multi-syllabic contexts is paramount.
If students demonstrate ease with the lesson’s content in this regard, we suggest bringing in the Morphology instruction to enhance and increase the depth of knowledge for that group of learners.
Prepare student materials & determine systems for student work
At Smart ALEC, we like to have individual student binders that accumulate all the student work book pages as we progress through them. This serves many purposes: all student work is housed in one area to avoid losing or misplacing pages, the workbook serves as a resource for students to refer to previously learned concepts if they get stuck, it is a powerful body of evidence to share with parents when discussing student growth.
We have a very specific way of setting up student binders, check out this blog post.
We understand that it may not be feasible for you to house individual binders for each student and that is not a problem. You may choose to send papers home as they are completed in class so that parents can see your daily work with each phonogram.
As you prepare to teach Lesson 1 here are the items to print:
As you read through the Lesson 1 instructor’s guide, you will find information about how to use each page in the Student Workbook, as well as the Morphology pages.
Classroom instruction should contain two components:
1. A whole class mini-lesson which is an introduction to the phonogram or rule.
This lesson should cover:
- Sound Drill - Click Here to Watch a Video on the Importance of the Sound Drill
- New Rule Introduction - Click here to watch a video on the introduction of Letter Y
2. A small group differentiated lesson.
Begin your small group instruction by working through each lesson. Typically we spend one week per concept.
- Review Rule Decoding or Game - Click Here to Watch How We Gamify Review Word Lists & Click Here to Watch a Video on a Game we use for Review
- Differentiated Practice of the New Rule - Click Here to Watch a Video on Differentiated Instruction
- Incorporate Targeted Additional Skills - See What These Skills Look Like
- Phonological Awareness & Auditory Drill - Click Here to See What This Looks Like
Keep in mind that many of the "Additional or Extra Activities" that are built into the Student Workbook are designed for you to pick and choose. You may not always complete all of these activities. Some you may send home or some you may realize are not necessary for your student.
Spelling & Homework systems
Each lesson comes with Additional Activities, and these can be used in a variety of different ways. You may choose to use these additional student workbook pages for review in your small group setting, or to be sent home as homework. These pages also lend themselves to being used at centers or word work stations. Check out our video to see how you can use these pages!
Each lesson contains spelling and dictation practice. This is reinforced in your small group instruction and can also serve as your core spelling program.
In our Members Only Library, under Writing Resources, you will find Intermediate Level Spelling List Sheets. These are already leveled for you to meet the needs of your differentiated spellers. You can send these home as homework and spelling practice to complement the encoding (spelling) work you are doing during your small group instruction.
As you prepare to send homework home for the first time, you may want to share information with your parents about your new systems and targeted instruction. We find that it can be incredibly helpful and empowering to families if you provide them with documentation about what you are aiming to do during your intervention time. We know that some families may be more interested than others but we have prepared a brief handout that you can give to parents or attach via email to help keep them in the loop. It's also a great reference sheet for your students. We find that anchoring your discussion around the Literacy Processing Triangle can help others gain a grasp of the complex process of reading and what this particular intervention is targeting for your students.
Breathe. This is going to take time to get used to and time for your students to adjust. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Before you know it, this instruction will become your second language and your systems will work like a well-oiled machine. You will see the spark of ‘a-ha’ in your students as they gain experience and confidence with new rules and skills, and you will become comfortable with making this curriculum work for you.
If at any time you have questions, please join our Private Facebook Group to collaborate with other educators using the curriculum. Together, we can share ideas, troubleshoot, and offer support.