Bayhill high school’s reading intervention class has always been based an Orton-Gillingham approach, a highly structured multi-sensory instruction that addresses a student’s ability to decode words. Decoding is the use of letter-sound associations, structural elements such as prefixes and suffixes, and patterns within words to correctly pronounce unknown words. Students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties often struggle to decode words. Without decoding, fluency and reading comprehension are unattainable.
Orton-Gillingham is often done one-to-one over the course of 3 years and involves extensive analysis of words, but when students reach high school, we must address decoding deficits with more efficiency. High school students face approximately 10,000 new words a year1, making quick and efficient decoding integral to academic progress. To address the pressing need for decoding skills, Bayhill has adopted the REWARDS® program developed by Dr. Anita Archer.
According to the publisher Sopris West, “the REWARDS® family of reading and writing intervention materials is specifically designed for adolescent struggling learners in grades 4-12, with every instructional activity backed by sound research foundation and evidence to support its effectiveness.”2
Bayhill primarily employs the reading component of REWARDS® which teaches students to break words into manageable, decodable chunks by focusing on vowels, prefixes, and suffixes. In addition, techniques from Seeing Stars®, a Lindamood-Bell program, help students to imprint word parts in visual memory. By doing this, students achieve a level of automaticity in identifying important parts of words for quick and efficient decoding.
Students in our reading intervention class receive 30 minutes a day of instruction with REWARDS® and Seeing Stars®, along with fluency practice using text from their core classes, as well as supplemental materials. This allows students to quickly see the application of their developing decoding skills.
To simultaneously build comprehension skills, students work on vocabulary words from their core classes, as well as explicit comprehension strategies.
REWARDS® has been very successful at Bayhill. Students who invest and participate in the class, often see a marked increase in their word attack and decoding skills. On average, students in last years reading intervention class increased their recognition of syllables from 71% to 92% and their decoding ability from 63% of intermediate words read correctly to 80% read correctly. This is significant for students who have struggled to make any progress in a given year.
In conjunction with our structured comprehension and writing program in the English classes and the use of audiobooks, Bayhill students who struggle with reading are seeing success with the REWARDS® program.
1&2Sopris West Learning “Evidence Based Support for REWARDS® secondary.” www.sopriswest.com. September 16, 2017.