Shira was a quiet and reserved child. In circle time, although she loved listening to the stories the teacher read, she rarely volunteered to answer any of the questions. During reading instruction she would stare at her paper or turn to look at her neighbor’s paper before attempting to do any of the work on her own. In the fall, Shira scored in the at-risk category on the early literacy benchmark assessment. She had difficulty rapidly naming letters and identifying beginning sounds. She couldn’t even begin to segment sounds in words. The reading specialist started working with Shira twice weekly in a small group of 4-5 students. However, by the time January arrived it was clear that Shira needed more intensive instruction.
After conferring with Shira’s parents and teachers the reading specialist began working with her one-on-one instead of in the small group. In addition to letter and sound naming, Shira began working to improve her phonological awareness skills: rhyming, blending and segmenting. With individualized, targeted instruction two to three times weekly, Shira began to make progress. The reading specialist provided Shira’s parents with information on how to work with her at home. Gratefully, they reinforced what she was working on at school. Shira’s confidence rose and she began participating more in the classroom. By the time the final benchmark assessment was administered in May, Shira’s score fell within the lower limits of the average range. This note from the reading specialist says it all: “I created a reading activity around Shira’s favorite things to do. When Shira read the words in a sentence pertaining to her –“I like to swim and sing.” These words were not just words on paper; they were her words about her. Her whole body lit up with a smile.”