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For me, summer break means a break from the reading lab—but it doesn’t mean a break from teaching! I’ve been blessed with eleven grandchildren, six of whom are still in grade school and live very close to me. It’s great to work with them throughout the year on their reading and math, but I love the extra time I get to spend with them in the summer. As with many kids, it can be more difficult to motivate them over the break. Can any of you relate?

As another year in my Read Live reading lab winds down, I've noticed an uptick in my third graders' motivation. Many of them had been "saving" certain story topics for last, patiently waiting to read the stories that interested them the most. They're thrilled that the time has finally come. The Exploding Toads story, in particular, has been worth the wait!

Managing students' needs is always a work in progress. My latest challenge in my classroom has been to figure out the best Read Naturally Live level for my younger readers. In the past, most (if not all) of my second-grade students have seamlessly fit into the Phonics levels of stories. As they progressed, I would move them into Sequenced stories. Usually, their phonics needs would be well matched to their fluency needs in the Phonics series. These levels provided the right amount of challenge and comfort for their reading.

The word “troubleshooting” is the theme of this year’s Read Naturally lab! We’ve experienced a whole new way of teaching and making the best out of distance learning. At the beginning of the year, our school was lucky enough to be in session full-time, every day. This allowed for a somewhat normal Read Naturally schedule. However, due to the Covid19 situation, the school no longer allowed volunteers in the building. With 3 classes of 8-10 students, we were still in need of extra teachers. Zoom to the rescue!

Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot continued her work with students in the Read Naturally reading lab at Faithful Shephard School this past school year. When schools moved to distance learning, Candyce met with Read Naturally Lead Teacher Sarah Voelbel to develop a plan. Their priority was to keep students engaged and to ensure the students could continue building their reading skills. Candyce and Sarah’s plan to combine Read Live and Zoom worked out better than expected. Below, Sarah shares her reflection on the experience.

We are pleased to share a blog post written by Read Naturally teacher Sarah Voelbel. Sarah spent this past year working with founder Candyce Ihnot in the Read Naturally Reading Lab at Faithful Shepherd School in Eagan, MN. This was Sarah’s first experience with Read Naturally. She shares her reflections after a year of using the program with students.

Read Naturally founder Candyce Ihnot likes to tell the story of a little boy who went from struggling to fluent using the Read Naturally program. When Candyce asked the boy how he got to be such a good reader, he said with a smirk, “It was nothing you did.” Rather than be offended by his brutal honesty, Candyce was delighted. The boy was taking due credit for his own accomplishment. He had come to understand that he’d possessed the tools for success all along. Having found the confidence and fortitude to master a huge challenge, he could now draw on those qualities again and again—without his teacher’s help.

I’ve long believed that when students work in Read Naturally Live or Read Naturally Encore, we should address their phonics needs as well as improve their reading fluency. Actually, improving phonics skills is foundational to increasing fluency.

The second year of my Read Live lab at the new school continues to go smoothly, and I am grateful to have drawn from last year’s stories to improve my process this year. Of course, just as things were starting to feel easy breezy, we hit an unexpected bump.

In my previous blog post , I explained my process for helping students answer questions #3 and #6, the vocabulary questions, correctly in Read Live. Part of my process involved motivating the students to do their best work, which I explained in detail in my previous post. In this post, I’ll delve into the details of how I set up and presented the lesson demonstrating how to answer questions #3 and #6 successfully.

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

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