Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Day in My Life in India

I am still here in India, and I thought it was time for another blog post. There's so much to write about, but so little time! Since time is limited, and since pictures speak a thousand words, I've decided to post some photos with captions. I've also included a video of one of the teachers talking about his experience using Reading Horizons.

Working with some teachers using Reading Horizons

Posing with two of the teachers/house mothers
Posing with Yuma and her painting that I bought at the Bindu Art School at one of the leprosy colonies

Teaching a class at the Peery School
Posing with some students at play time

Posing with some students before play time

Posing with some teachers using Reading Horizons

Friday, January 28, 2011

Back in India

The Peery School
I arrived at Rising Star Outreach yesterday afternoon. It's beautiful here! After the driver picked me up from the airport in Chennai, we took the hour-and-a-half drive to the Rising Star Outreach campus. When we arrived at Rising Star and we pulled into the driveway, I was amazed at the beautiful landscaping and the changes that have taken place since my visit two-and-a-half years ago. There is an additional wing of the school that has been added on. There is now a playground for the children. A dining hall has been added where the children eat. A beautiful guest house was built for volunteers. I'm excited to be back again helping at the school. Since I've arrived, I've taught some classes, met with teachers, visited the Bindu Art School, and helped at a leprosy colony. There's plenty of work to be done every day.
The Volunteer Guest House

Mary (English teacher) in the computer lab using Reading Horizons
I have heard some wonderful anecdotal feedback about how wonderful the Reading Horizons program is working here. I chatted with some of the house mothers and teachers yesterday while the children were playing, and they were so excited to find out that I worked with Reading Horizons. They said they love the program and that it is helping them so much. A couple of the older students were there, as well, and they were excited to tell me that they love the program, too.

Student excited to show off her writing and art work

I played with the children on the playground today. The children call me "auntie." I’m glad to be back.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Success Stories in Learning to Read

On this blog, I strive to educate and inspire by posting useful and insightful information for teachers of English. Generally, my posts contain a slant in one form or another on improving reading and literacy. Occasionally, I post something related to my work if it falls into the category of educating or inspiring. I just couldn't resist posting these success stories recently gathered from teachers around the US and abroad about the success they've seen using the Reading Horizons program that my company produces. I will mention, too, that just this morning, I skyped with the principal of the school in India that I'm going to visit next week, and she mentioned how thrilled they are with the Reading Horizons program. She expressed how much the students and teachers love the program, as it is filling previously unmet needs. She feels that Reading Horizons is an answer to prayers. 

My hope is that these success stories, as well as the success stories derived from one's own personal experience, will incite teachers everywhere to continue their quest to educate and inspire their students and their fellowmen as they assist them in reaching their full potential.

Reading Horizons Success in 2011
I am a 60-year-old 37-year teacher and not very techno savvy, until Canyons School District funded a computer classroom for my group home based school.  Reading Horizons has only been in use here for the past month and a half.  I can already see improvement in all my students who are in grades 7-12, ages 13-18.  Your program holds the interest of even my most reluctant readers.  For something to show this kind of improvement in so short a time is truly amazing.  I look forward to using it for a long time to come.
Steve, Youth in Custody Teacher
Canyons School District

I teach resource reading in an at-risk urban school. Teaching phonics to adolescents is much different than in elementary and even middle school. Reading Horizons makes sense to my students and they share with me how much it is really helping them feel more confident in reading. When colleagues ask me what program I prefer when teaching basic phonics, I say Reading Horizons.
Granger High School
West Valley City, UT

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ensuring Success with English in India

In a few days, I embark on a two-and-a-half week adventure to India. I fly into Delhi where I will spend a couple days visiting the Taj Mahal and the surrounding areas, and then I fly to Chennai where I will spend some time at the Peery School for Rising Stars sponsored by Rising Star Outreach. I visited this school in May of 2008 to train summer volunteers on EFL/literacy training. (See my previous blog posts on June 9, 2008 and June 22, 2008 about my visit to India.) Since my visit two-and-a-half years ago, a state-of-the-art computer lab has been installed, and the students have begun using the Reading Horizons software my company donated to the school to improve their reading and English skills. On this trip, I will help to ensure that the administrators, teachers, and students are getting the most out of their use of the Reading Horizons program, as well as assisting in other English learning and literacy training needs. I will be posting photos and videos of my experiences on this blog, so stay tuned!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Free RTI Online Resource

I'm currently working with my curriculum team on creating some reading passages for kids ages 4-9 to help them practice decoding in context. One of my colleagues introduced me to a website called "Intervention Central", which was designed to serve as a resource for Response to Intervention (RTI) teachers. I thought it was worth sharing this resource on this blog since it has several helpful tools that can be used in various classroom settings.

My team and I are using the reading fluency passage generator tool to pilot our stories. We simply copy and paste our passage text into a box and click "submit," and the website creates a document we can use to pilot our passages. The number of words on each line are identified in the right margin, as well as the Grade Level Equivalency score/s of our choice. We've chosen to use the Flesch-Kincaid measure, but you can opt to use any number of readability formulas, including (but not limited to) Fog Index, Spache, SMOG-Grading, and Coleman-Liau. The website also provides a number of other kinds of tools, including a letter naming fluency probe generator, a wordlist fluency generator, and a maze passage generator (similar to a cloze exercise), to name a few. There is also a math worksheet generator. Although this website was designed specifically as an RTI resource, I find the tools on this website effective for various language classrooms.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New York City Public Schools Teach Students to Read

I just returned from New York City where I had the opportunity to work with schools in the New York City Public school district. I visited several middle schools and high schools and met with teachers, conducted teacher trainings, and taught a couple high school classes where I did some model teaching of how the Reading Horizons method can be implemented in the classroom. I was impressed with the dedication of the teachers and their desires to help their students reach their full potential.

I worked closely with a few administrators from the district, as well, who are dedicated to supporting the teachers in their network. One of these administrators, Dr. Janine Caffrey, shares a video on her blog that demonstrates the teachers' potential to change the world by helping their students reach their full potential and teaching them how to read. The video showcases teachers participating in a Reading Horizons teacher training. It can be viewed on her blog by clicking here.

See also my blog post on my follow-up visit here