2006 Conference General Sessions






Jason Burke
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W. Commerce Drive
Volo IL 60073
Day Phone: 847-740-0749
Email: jburke@donjohnston.com

In this changing environment of No Child Left Behind, even our students with significant disabilities will see raised expectations in the area of reading and content knowledge. Participants will learn how to choose text that is considerate of the needs of students with significant disabilities, use it in a way that gets reading results and get students involved in meaningful content-based curriculum.

The National Reading Panel (2000) and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education agree that students must become skilled in the following areas of reading to become experienced readers:
Phonemic awareness

Beginning readers begin to build a vocabulary before they begin recognizing sounds, letters or words. Vocabulary knowledge is an important part of word identification and comprehension. There are different methods for building word knowledge, direct and indirect. By using an indirect approach, teachers can expose beginning readers to vocabulary words across various contexts. This provides the opportunity for students to infer the meaning through the context in which they encountered it, not through definition. Enrichment Texts, which can be found in the Start—to—Finish. Literacy Starters books, are authored to motivate students to experience engaging content and considerate text through multiple repeated readings. As students interact with the text, their oral language skills become stronger and stronger as they talk about the pictures and make text-to-self connections with the content being presented in text.

Attending directly to print also supports students in developing their vocabulary and oral language skills. They understand that print (words) carries the meaning, not pictures. The Transitional Text used in each Literacy Starters set was designed specifically for this purpose. Word—by—word highlighting helps students with directionality and a one—to— one correspondence between written and spoken words. A second fluent reading of the passage by phrase helps students see how the individual words form connected text.

In addition to supporting the important task of learning concepts about print, Transitional Texts also support students with developing their phonological awareness. Students are required to take an active role in reading with the computer in the read with me version of the book. The computer silently highlights word-by—word as a cue for students to read the words aloud or in their head, then provides auditory feedback for confirmation.

As students begin to recognize new words, the Conventional Texts provide an avenue for students to practice reading connected text with comprehension. This helps students with their ability to read text automatically and with accuracy because the word usage and the variability of sentence structures have the appropriate difficulty for students with significant disabilities who are beginning readers. Students read these books multiple times to achieve fluent reading, which then promotes students to decode and comprehend simultaneously.

Combining the three text types, Enrichment, Transitional and Conventional Texts, can prove to be a powerful method for reaching students beginning reading goals. Educators can use Start-to—Finish Literacy Starters to craft a strong plan that incorporates scientifically— based reading research and reading throughout the curriculum to get students on track for the high-stakes accountability in today’s classrooms.

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