An interview with Melody Milner, Special Education Teacher and Reading Specialist, and Susan Reveles, Reading Intervention Teacher at Captain Walter E. Clarke Middle School
In 2014, sixth grade students in our individual classrooms worked on MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC). These sixth graders were special education, dyslexia, second language, and 504 Program students. The 504 Program provides a safety net for students who do not qualify for special education, have other learning issues, and failed the state reading assessment (STAAR™ test).
Ms. Milner – In March, 2013, I put my sixth grade special education students on the original My Reading Coach. At that time, I noticed how great the program was and how it helped these students, so I put all of my students on it. Last year I used MVRC and suggested that Ms. Reveles use MVRC in her classroom because she ALSO had many special education students. We used it in tandem, and together, we pushed these students to succeed on the program.
Last year my students did very well on MVRC because it closes their phonics and fluency gaps. I love that the reports point out the types of errors they are making. I can then tweak the reports and do direct teaching with specific reading problems.
We were very successful with most of the students who used MVRC. In April, 2014, sixth grade students in our school made a seven point gain on the STAAR™ test.
Motivation: Ms. Milner – Last year I gave my students a project grade for working on MVRC outside the classroom for two hours a week. (We could not use classroom time for the software.) I pushed them hard to get the time in at home as well as in our computer lab and library before school, after school or during lunch. To hold students accountable, I involved their parents and gave them small rewards if they completed their two hours. I set it up so they could check their reports and check their time. I want them to own their learning. I asked them to go back and see where they were struggling and where they were succeeding. That was huge for them. They would say, “Oh look, I got another trophy.” Seeing their improvement motivated them to work hard on MVRC. Even the students who did not like working on the program admitted that it was working.
I texted the parents to encourage them to get their kids on MindPlay. The parents appreciated my reminders and encouraged their kids to use MVRC. I end my text messages with, “Remember parents: We are all on the same team with the success of your child.” The parents are seeing the success and want to be a part of it. I receive text messages saying: “My child can read now.”
Ms. Reveles – In my classroom, students work on MVRC for 25 minutes three to four times a week and also spend time on the program out of the classroom to meet the two hour weekly requirement. To motivate my students, I started a recognition wall. I reward the students who spend the most time working on MVRC at home. They are proud to earn something like a bottle of flavored water. When they go up a grade level, I make a big deal of it. When they start to see their own growth, they are motivated to do the work. I have been really fortunate. I have seen miracles in my class.