I've been using the Reading Simplified approach for three years now. Prior to that I used the whole language approach. In the three years before I stumbled upon Reading Simplified, I was heavily involved in the Shine Project in Porirua, New Zealand, headed by Joy Allcock who ignited a more phonics-based approach in junior school teaching than what was currently available at the time.
In New Zealand I worked with 5 to 7 year olds where they were expected (under the last government) to reach a certain level by a certain age. I NEVER achieved a 100% strike rate on this benchmark, despite teaching for over 20 years.
How sad is that–for me and for the students!
Applying the Reading Simplified System during Intervention
Reading Simplified is different. I've not ever used a program before where the sounds could be taught so quickly and efficiently. I love the simplicity of the Streamlined Pathway and found this lacking in almost everything I'd used before.
Having the letter tiles already made to size without me having to guess which phonemes and digraphs would be most appropriate to use was a game changer for me. Suddenly, I had a resource, which became the SINGLE best thing that had ever happened to my literacy teaching.
At first I couldn't quite understand how the components of Reading Simplified all slotted together, but once I felt comfortable with Switch It and could see how quickly the students were picking it up, I knew I had to finish the Reading Simplified Academy training as quickly as possible so I could keep up with them!
Now Re-Reading for Fluency, Word Work, and a New Read (Guided Oral Reading), are second nature to me. What helps me most with this framework is having the reading resources that accompany each sound ready and available.
Attribution: TUBS on WikiMedia.org
Middle School Students' Growth with Reading Simplified
For the last three years I've used Reading Simplified with 7-8 graders (11-13 year olds) here in Rarotonga, The Cook Islands. Teaching the older struggling readers has been the most rewarding part of my career. They quickly picked up the concepts and could understand how to see the patterns of long vowel sounds during Sort It. Flexing sounds in and out of words became our favourite pastime!
So some data that I've collected shows some pretty exciting gains for the children are below. Please remember I worked with senior children with early reading abilities–the earliest being a year 7 student with a 5.3 reading age.
The average gain of these formerly struggling readers was 3.9 years. The largest shift I recorded was 6.1 years by a student last year!
In 2019 and 2020, for various staffing reasons, I was only able to work with groups of children for about half to three-quarters of the school year. In 2021, I had an uninterrupted 3.5 term streak where 100% of the students working with Reading Simplified had reached grade level by the time they went to college (high school).
I believe in this program so much that once my contract ended with my school, I retired from full time teaching and now offer private literacy lessons–and of course–Reading Simplified is at the heart of what I do. Thank you, Marnie–I get so much satisfaction from seeing students benefit from this simplified approach.
Just this afternoon a student said to me: "I can read chapter books now!"
We are making readers!!! It's so fulfilling.
Now It's Your Turn....
We're so grateful for Kathryn's skill at teaching reading and for her willingness to share her story.
Do you have a success story to share? We'd love to hear it below!
And if you want to know the same system that enabled Kathryn to get such outstanding results, we welcome you to join the Reading Simplified Academy here.