Are you familiar with the Frank Sinatra song “My Way”? If you are anything like me (and Mr. Sinatra), you really like the idea of doing things your way! It may even be one of the reasons you decided to teach. We, as educators, like having our own rooms where we make all the decisions. Ok, I’ll admit it: I am a bit of a control freak! Although I am a big believer in personal choice for most things, when it comes to Read Naturally, using the program as it’s intended is imperative for success.
Frequently, teachers call me with questions about issues they are having with the program. Some of those questions lead me to ask my own set of questions, which often reveals fidelity issues with the implementation. I hate to think of myself as the fidelity police, but that is what occasionally happens. Here are a few of the most common mistakes I've encountered.
- Not Using the Placement Procedure
Placement is essential to the proper use of Read Naturally. One of the reasons the program is so effective is that each student is placed in a level that is right for that student. That level is usually a little above the student’s instructional level. The student is able to handle it because of all the support the program offers. In order to determine the correct level for students entering Read Naturally, teachers must place them individually using our placement procedures. Benchmark Assessment data is used to decide which students need Read Naturally, NOT which level is appropriate for the Read Naturally intervention.
- Students Not Working Independently
Differentiated instruction is a key component of Read Naturally. Students using Read Naturally must work independently, because each student works at his or her own level and goal, and each student works at his or her own pace. If students are using Read Naturally Live or SE, each student works on a separate computer, no teams. If students are using Read Naturally Masters Edition, each student needs his or her own CD player, headphones, and timer.
- Students Not Actively Reading Along
Younger students should read along with the audio support three times, and older students or students reading very close to grade level should read along at least once or twice. Students need to be actively reading along. This is NOT a listening activity. Read Naturally utilizes multisensory learning: students need to see, say, and hear the words from the text all at the same time.
- Students Not Practicing Enough
Students should have to practice reading on their own three to ten times before reaching their goals. If a student needs to practice only once or twice, the level or goal is too easy.
In order to ensure that you and your colleagues are implementing Read Naturally with fidelity, we have a helpful checklist available for each format.
Also, feel free to ask your implementation questions in the comments section below. I always love to hear from you!