An interview with Jo B. Fuller, Licensed Dyslexia Therapist Dishman Elementary School, Beaumont, Texas
In Texas, dyslexia identification and services are provided through the Regular Education Program. I implement the Dyslexia Intervention Program in our school. My role is to assess referred students for initial identification as well as provide daily instruction for dyslexic students.
Dyslexic students have brains that learn how to read and spell in a different way. The intervention for these students must be explicit, sequential and multi-sensory. It must spiral over and over repeating each concept until it is mastered.
In September, 2015, 38 of my students, who range in grade levels from second through fifth, began the MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC) free trial. They worked on the program 45 minutes a day, four days a week from September to December.
From the beginning, they were completely engaged. Even the wiggliest learner stayed focused. Each of their lessons was personalized for them since they each had completed an assessment prior to starting. If a new student moved in, I could include them in a class without worrying about his or her level in the program. They immediately completed the assessment and started working on the specific lessons they needed.
For Parent-Teacher conferences, I printed out the MVRC Parent Reports that gave parents real data on how their child was progressing and on what specific skills they were working. One of the most meaningful parts of the report was the student’s improvement documentation. In three months, 26 percent of my students increased their comprehension one grade level. Eleven percent of the students increased two grade levels. Seven percent of the students increased three or more reading levels including a fifth grade student who increased five grade levels.
Second Grade Students Excel on MVRC
My second graders, especially, responded to MVRC training. Sixty seven percent increased one grade level or more with one student increasing three reading levels. Their teacher came to me to talk about how much better they were doing in the classroom. By December, they had gone from Tier 3 to Tier 2 on the iStation assessment. The MVRC Program’s integration of grammar and sentence construction was a boost to their comprehension of more complex sentences. Their vocabulary level even increased. Two students went from a second grade Listening Vocabulary level to a seventh grade level.
I watched them every day as they worked on the program. They were focused, engaged and gaining confidence. They were happy and proud! When they mastered a lesson, you would have thought they had won a year’s worth of ice cream! They could hardly wait to come to class. One of the students started the year as a very discouraged and weak reader. Now, I never see her without a book in her hand. She can’t wait to share what she is reading with me. Another student was a nonreader at the beginning of the year. Now he is confident enough in himself that he will try to read anything.
The biggest motivator for all of my students is telling their teacher when they have achieved a medal or received a Certificate of Excellence or Completion from the program. We always cheer when one of the students earns a medal or certificate, but then we make a big announcement in their regular classroom. The icing on the cake comes when their name and accomplishment are announced over the intercom to the whole school the next day.
I believe in this program. I have seen my students blossom. Fifth grade students are passing six weeks reading assessments with 80’s and 90’s instead of failing grades. A fourth grade teacher came to me and told me that two of my students who had started at the second grade level on the AR 360 Reading Assessment in September were now on the fourth grade level in February.
The success of MVRC comes from the way that the students are engaged: the building of words, the reading of words, and the usage of sounds and letters over and over until they are correct on the first try. MVRC is changing the lives of my dyslexic students with an explicit, sequential, multisensory program that engages their minds and motivates them to become better readers.