Educators receive a lot of information every day from parents, district administrators, education publishing companies, education magazines and even social media. It can be overwhelming and difficult to make sense of it all most days. Even knowing where to begin can be challenging.
A new resource is now available to provide an easy to use tool that can help school district administrators and principals make sense of the effectiveness of early literacy interventions and aid in considering which ones will have the most impact on those students in the school who are having the most difficulty in learning to read and write.
Simply use a copy of the tool for every intervention being considered to mark out on the scale where each intervention lands and consider the strengths of each and where each could improve.
2020 has presented students, teachers, principals and school administrators with new challenges and opportunities that we never would have thought we would be experiencing when New Years Day dawned in 2020. Now that 2021 has come upon us we realize that we have all learned a lot and we know that we are so much more flexible and adaptable than we ever thought possible!
If you are in a school with a Reading Recovery teacher you have a tremendous asset in your midst. If you are that Reading Recovery teacher you know just what is possible!
How can a Reading Recovery teacher help with classroom instruction during a pandemic?
Bring a literacy processing lens to classroom instruction
Help with assessment of students new to the school or who have been at home, by finding their literacy strengths and creating a plan to build on them
Interpret and analyze reading processing
Support oral language development
Act as a coach with a classroom teacher
Provide valuable input into the development of individual education plans
Download and share this resource to find out more ways Reading Recovery teachers can benefit not only classrooms and school literacy teams but the entire school literacy achievement.
In May the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) in Ontario celebrated their milestone achievement of 25 years of Reading Recovery implementation in their board. Many past and present Reading Recovery Teachers, Teacher Leaders, Administrators, Parents and Students attended an event to mark the achievement!
In the past 25 years, over 22 000 students have been served in Reading Recovery in the YRDSB! In addition, over 800 teachers have been trained in Reading Recovery and have utilized their deep knowledge of literacy learning throughout all subsequent roles in their teaching careers.
In 2018-19, YRDSB has 206 teachers currently teaching Reading Recovery in 158 schools along with 27 teachers in training! On average 40 other students are supported by Reading Recovery teachers each and every day in their other roles.
The impact of Reading Recovery on students and their families has been tremendous and as a result the future is bright! More information about Reading Recovery in YRDSB can be found on their website.
a student faces challenges in learning to read and write, Reading
Recovery is an early intervention program that has yielded proven
results in Manitoba for the past 25 years.
In Winnipeg School
Division, where the program has been officially in operation for 21
years, approximately 41 out of 55 schools with Grade 1 students (who are
the main focus of the program) have taken part in Reading Recovery.
Approximately 500 WSD students receive lessons in Reading Recovery each
school year (based on average data from the last five years).
Recovery addresses inequities for children who are entering our school
system, and works to catch up those students who have fallen behind,”
said Michelle Hildebrand, a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. “By the end
of Grade 1, most will have caught up to their average peers. According
to our data in WSD for our English program last year, 81 per cent of
students in Reading Recovery who completed their lesson series were able
to catch up. We find that most of those children won’t need any
remedial or resource support after their time in Reading Recovery. They
actually continue to maintain their gains and learn from their efforts
and the instruction they’re receiving in the classroom. That’s huge.”
program has seen similar successes worldwide. Reading Recovery was
created by educator and researcher Dame Marie Clay 45 years ago in New
Zealand; the program now runs in Canada, the United States, the United
Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Malta,
and Cayman Islands.
Pictured above: Sarah Arnold, Holly Cumming and Michelle Hildebrand at WSD’s Reading Recovery headquarters at Sir William Osler School.
Recovery targets first graders who may be encountering reading
difficulties; the intervention works best when it is made available to
all students who may need it, and is used to supplement good classroom
“When Dame Marie Clay first developed this intervention,
she was thinking of what’s possible for all students, what’s possible
for all learners, especially those with reading problems,” said Holly
Cumming, a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. “Marie Clay said that by
sailing in new directions, you can change the world. That’s so true,
because when we teach children to read and write and become strong in
literacy, it truly changes their world.”
As Reading Recovery
Teacher Leaders, Ms. Cumming, Ms. Hildebrand and fellow Teacher Leader
Sarah Arnold work in three concentric circles that include professional
development and training other teachers in Reading Recovery, as well as
implementing the program at the school and systemic level. But the
centre circle is undoubtedly the students, with whom they work on a
Meeting the needs of the child
the Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement assessment,
individual students receive a half-hour lesson each school day for 12-20
weeks, working one-on-one with a trained Reading Recovery teacher.
start our lessons with what we refer to as ‘Roaming Around the Known’.
We build on what a student already knows and make a gradual progression
through reading levels,” Ms. Arnold said. “In the beginning of each
session, we do some familiar reading, to get their orchestration and
By allowing students to experience success each session, teachers bolster their confidence in handling new material.
of the lenses Clay created was to realize that it’s important that we
look for what students can already do, and use those strengths as a
springboard for new learning,” Ms. Cumming said. “When you build off a
child’s successes, and get to do that on a daily basis, it really helps a
struggling student achieve accelerated learning.”
Reading Recovery teachers take extensive records of each day’s session with a student.
look at what strategies we’re doing, and based on analysis of those
records, we are able to target our instruction specifically for each
child,” Ms. Arnold said. “Once you get to know these students, you can
arrange for them to have success any time they are learning something
Once a student meets grade-level expectations and
demonstrates an ability to work independently in the classroom, they are
closely monitored as they transition back to classroom-only
The vast majority of Reading Recovery students who
complete the full 12-20 week intervention are brought up to grade-level
expectations in reading and writing.
Students who are still having
difficulty following the initial intervention are recommended for
further evaluation and possible future supports. These supports can
range from classroom supports, resource supports and specialist
referral, assessment and programming. Diagnostic information, collected
during the Reading Recovery process, can inform the next best steps to
assist the child.
“Those students have still often made
substantial progress, but they need a little more time with
individualized help,” Ms. Cumming said. “So we will recommend those
students for a longer term of support or for more specialist help.
We’ll have much diagnostic information on these students so that we can
provide schools with an action plan going forward to support their
continued literacy progress. We will monitor those students up to the
end of Grade 3.”
Ultimately, for every child that enters into
Reading Recovery, 100 per cent of them see significant benefits. Four
times a year, a Reading Recovery teacher will check up on former Reading
Recovery students (up to the end of Grade 3) to ensure they are
maintaining their gains—and if there are any issues, will work with the
classroom teacher to ensure they are being addressed.
collection is an important part of the Reading Recovery process. Along
with tracking an individual student’s progress, data can identify wider
trends amongst students. This data, in turn, is given to the Province of
“Reading Recovery is one of the most well-researched
literacy interventions in the entire world,” Ms. Cumming said. “Our
teachers gather data daily, weekly, they make monthly reflections and we
have a huge year end data collection around the world for Reading
Recovery. Here in the Winnipeg School Division, we collect data and
analyze it, develop our goals for next year and then we send it off to
the province and they do their own analysis of it.”
That data is
in turn reviewed by Reading Recovery representatives on a national and
international level, as they seek to incorporate the latest data, trends
and best practises into their daily work with students.
inform new teaching strategies, which Reading Recovery teachers gather
through a continual focus on professional development.
Pictured above: During Reading Recovery sessions at Sir William
Osler School, a teacher will work with a student while colleagues
observe and make notes of their interactions with students. It’s a way
to observe in an inobtrusive manner and offer feedback.
is to have a conversation about what we see. Partly, it’s a way to lift
our own understandings of the literacy processing theory in which we
work, and also it’s a way to be able to offer feedback to our colleague.
What we see is working, and what other approaches that teacher may take
to help that particular student,” Ms. Hildebrand said.
several teachers there simply to observe, they are able to offer many
perspectives that assist the teacher and the student.
to offer insights that teacher may not be able to see because they’re
in the midst of teaching and thinking about the next steps in that
lesson,” Ms. Cumming said. “It’s a window to truly understanding how
children come to read and write.”
Learning for life
Recovery places a heavy emphasis on professional development, starting
with an intensive first training year for teachers.
year-long process. Teachers often say that it is very robust, but it’s
the best professional development they’ve ever had,” Ms. Cumming said.
“Within that year of training those teachers are working with four
children every day as well. They’re attending 18 half-day in-service
sessions throughout the year, along with four assessment sessions…so
there’s a lot of professional development in that first year. Learning
about what may be puzzling a young student when it comes to reading can
be very complex. We focus on theory to figure out what a particular
child needs and what are the next steps for teaching.”
Cumming, Ms. Arnold and Ms. Hildebrand will also visit Reading Recovery
teachers-in-training at their schools, observing their process with
students and offering supports where needed. Working with Teacher
Leaders, a Reading Recovery teacher develops observational skills and a
variety of intervention techniques that meet the needs of at-risk
Reading Recovery continues to focus on professional development following a teacher’s first training year.
long as a teacher is in Reading Recovery, they continue to come for
professional development,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “They have eight
professional development sessions throughout the year as opposed to the
18 in their training year. And we still go out and visit them in their
schools as well.”
Oral language as a gateway to reading and writing
a child is struggling to read at the Grade 1 level, Reading Recovery
practitioners often take a look at oral language acquisition.
area we’ve done quite a bit of data collection on is oral language. We
know that there is a high percentage of children that come into Reading
Recovery and in classrooms whose oral language is at risk for learning
to read and write,” Ms. Cumming said. “That might mean that they didn’t
have the opportunities to gain what they needed from birth to age 5-6.
So now they may be behind in terms of being able to pick up storyline
and vocabulary…they just haven’t acquired those skills yet. We’re
working very hard in Reading Recovery and in schools to see if we can
make up for that lack of experiences and help students develop more of
an oral language that helps them be readers and writers.”
Students can fall behind in oral language acquisition for a variety of reasons.
can have newcomer children who simply haven’t had many language
experiences in English or French, and they’re being asked to read text
in those languages,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “It could also be that the
dialect at home is different than what is being spoken at school. Book
language is another challenge for children, because books sound
different than the way we talk. So if a child hasn’t had a lot of
experience with books at home, then that can cause challenges as well.”
Social interaction is the key to developing oral language in early childhood.
interactions that happen at home, the stories that are read, the
conversations that are had…they really do make a difference,” Ms.
Cumming said. “Many of our children may not have yet had that exposure,
so that’s where we’re trying to help. If you don’t hear that language in
your formative years, it’s harder to use the language later on.”
Hildebrand adds: “Oral language is the foundation for literacy
development. That’s where we see a huge impact on the children we’re
Reading Recovery in French
Reading Recovery is also available for students who are learning to read and write en français.
(Intervention préventive en lecture-écriture) currently has seven
teachers in six WSD schools. The program, which has WSD French Reading
Recovery teachers working alongside teachers from three other divisions,
began as a pilot project in 2007-08 and is continuing to grow.
all started out with the question of what is possible for our young
immersion students as well,” said Ms. Arnold, who works in the English
and French versions of the program. “We discovered that our weakest
students could also learn to write and read in French.”
would like to see French formal reading instruction implemented at
earlier grade levels than what is currently prescribed in the
“The classrooms and teachers that are implementing it
earlier are successful,” Ms. Arnold said. “Any extra boost we can give
students in that Grade 1 classroom, just benefits them along the line,
because it’s their language of instruction.”
Cost-effective and timely
Reading Recovery targets students early in their education, it can put
them back on the pathway to success in a timely manner.
cost-effective program socially, because right at the beginning of a
child’s experience in school, they are getting that extra boost and
benefit of having a Reading Recovery teacher as well their classroom
teacher,” Ms. Hildebrand said. “We’re addressing that child’s needs
early, before they get into ways of working with text that aren’t
helpful for them, or before they fall into a pattern of thinking about
themselves as someone who can’t learn.
“The power of that early intervention is amazing.”
The Fall 2018 Edition of the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS) Journal produced an article that highlights the impact Reading Recovery has had in Manitoba over the past 25 years. A remarkable journey in Manitoba to help those struggling the most to learn to read and write began in 1994. Since them over 380 schools in Manitoba have implemented Reading Recovery. Read theentire article on page 17 of the MASS Journal.
Currently there are 310 teachers in Manitoba trained to provide Reading Recovery in their schools, but when all of the teachers who are Reading Recovery trained the number jumps to over 2400 teachers with a significant early literacy expertise sprinkled throughout the province. These teachers participate in a year long training and are challenged to consider new perspectives and see the lowest achieving children as full of potential, utilize the child’s strengths and interests while linking theory with practice.
To date, over 51,000 students in Manitoba have made progress and received the benefit of Reading and Writing at a young age!
One school administrator says, “Reading Recovery has certainly impacted targeted student progress but has also built a stronger capacity in our teachers around sound literacy instruction. The Reading Recovery Teacher has take on a leadership role in our building and helped to facilitate rich conversations around literacy. As a result, the impact has helped to support students school wide.”
In recent years, Reading Recovery has expanded to Manitoba’s First Nation Schools – you can read more about the impact Reading Recovery is having in Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre schools in this post.
On April 4, 2019 we are hosting a Gala Celebration Dinner where you can hear from former students, Reading Recovery Teachers and those involved in making a difference in the lives of over 51,000 students and their families.
Are you a Principal or Vice-Principal responsible for the implementation of Reading Recovery in your school? Would you like an amazing reference guide to assist you in understanding Reading Recovery and supporting your Reading Recovery Teachers so that your young students can achieve success in reading and writing?
The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery is delighted to announce the publication of A Principal’s Guide to Reading Recovery in Canada (2018). This 80 page, full colour guide recognizes the key role that principals play in ensuring success for Reading Recovery Students and Teachers in their schools.
The guide includes chapters on:
What is Reading Recovery/IPLÉ
Principal’s Key Role in Reading Recovery
Key Personnel for Reading Recovery
Professional Development and Reading Recovery
Evaluation of Student Outcomes
Reading Recovery/IPLÉ in your School
Generating Support and Sustaining Reading Recovery/IPLÉ in your School
Role of Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery, Sample Interview Questions, Working with Reading Recovery Teachers, Standards and Guidelines for Teacher Training
This invaluable guide is $10 and can be pre-ordered now. We are accepting bulk orders for this book from school districts who complete this order form. Orders will be filled by mid-December. We encourage school districts to purchase copies for each of their Principals, Vice-Principals and other School Administrators as well as a few extra copies for future needs. Orders will be shipped directly to the district.
The book can also be downloaded at no cost for use on your electronic devices.
We thank the Canadian Reading Recovery Trainers (Jennifer Flight, Christine Fraser, Yvette Heffernan, Allyson Matczuk, and Janice Van Dyke) for their work in editing the content of this guide and ensuring that it is a very useful document for years to come.
We often hear from professionals in school districts who say that they cannot implement Reading Recovery because the cost is too high and that it requires too much teacher time. A new article from the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery explains that investing in Reading Recovery is not as expensive as you might think.
“The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.” ~ aldo gucci
In the article, Cost vs. Cost Effectiveness, authors Allyson Matczuk and Jennifer Flight, Reading Recovery Trainers in the Western Region, explain that there is a need to utilize cost-effectiveness as a method of comparing literacy interventions. However, they note that Reading Recovery cannot be compared to interventions that serve all students because Reading Recovery serves the lowest 20% of students. “Helping a struggling emerging reader to learn to read is a different objective than helping an average student to learn to read.”
The article includes a descriptive chart to compare the costs of delivering Reading Recovery with small group literacy intervention, resource support and grade retention. It highlights that Reading Recovery is an intervention that not only targets reading but also writing in less time and with greater success at less cost than small group literacy strategies, resource support or the classroom teaching alone in Grade 1.
An added benefit to Reading Recovery is not only the inclusion of writing but also the training and on-going professional development that teachers receive. Teachers receive high quality training in order to work with students, track student progress and design individual lessons to ensure the best possible learning environment. Teachers have reported that the training and on-going support is some of the best professional development they have ever received. These trained teachers are able to support literacy learning for the entire classroom.
The true cost of not implementing Reading Recovery is that young students do not learn to enjoy learning or develop a curiosity about the world through books. They will struggle throughout their education and will often grow up to not have the self-confidence needed to learn to read well later in life. Offering Reading Recovery to the lowest achieving students in Grade 1 is an investment in the future of children and the future of our communities.
Publisher Submissions for the Approved Canadian Reading Recovery Booklist – a Quick How To
Teaching children to read and write involves the use of books that are suitable for their reading level, language and cultural relevance. Publishers and authors are invited to submit their books for approval. Once approved they will be added to the book list so that Reading Recovery schools can purchase them for use in their programs.
Each book included on the Canadian Reading Recovery Booklist (CIRR, 2017) represents countless hours of volunteer work by Canadian Reading Recovery Trainers, Teacher Leaders, and Teachers who engage in an intensive review process that includes an initial review for quality and approximate level followed by field-testing of every title being considered for inclusion. Reading Recovery educators who support the processes of review and field-testing represent geographic, language, and cultural diversity.
From the many books available, each title considered for possible inclusion is evaluated to determine how well the book:
tells a meaningful and well-structured story;
supports development of a literacy processing system of Grade one students;
has text features that work together appropriately for a particular level rather than creating undue challenges to the readers because of widely disparate features of text difficulty (language, concepts, spatial features, etc.);
has a sufficient amount of text on which a child could engage in problem solving and practice fluent reading;
represents ethnic, cultural, and language diversity in a way that values all persons;
has a story line that is of interest to Canadian children;
has good quality illustrations;
is constructed using good quality materials; and
It is not the intent of the Booklist to provide an over-abundance of titles. The intent is to provide a listing of texts that Reading Recovery professionals can easily access for use with students. The booklist is revised on a 3-year cycle with the next date of publication being Spring, 2020. It would be advisable to have books distributed before December 31, 2019.
In order to expedite titles for consideration, it is advised that publishers and book distributors provide complementary copies that can be distributed by the contacts in each region.
In 1999, Jack, a student in Yukon, was at the lowest reading level in his class in Grade 1. His parents were shocked to receive this news, but when offered the opportunity to have him participate in Reading Recovery, they gratefully accepted this offer of support.
Jack when he was a Reading Recovery Student
Following just a few weeks of the Reading Recovery literacy intervention in his school, Jack’s reading level improved dramatically. He finished his Grade 2 year at the highest reading level in his class.
Jack’s teachers referred to him as the “perfect Reading Recovery student”. He was able to accelerate
his learning and quickly catch up to his peers.
Jack enjoyed his time in Reading Recovery so much that he turned up at the Reading Recovery
room at the beginning of Grade 3 ready to continue his work with Ms. Marie!
The short term intervention of Reading Recovery has made a difference for Jack. Throughout elementary school and high school, Jack was an avid reader and an above average student. In 2011 Jack graduated from high school with honours. Currently, Jack is finishing his Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree at UVic and achieving A’s in his program. He is also an excellent writer and a voracious reader of global politics, biographies, and fiction anchored in history and travel adventures.
Jack has come a long way since his beginnings as the lowest achieving reader in his Grade 1 class! Without the Reading Recovery intervention it is possible Jack would struggle with reading, writing and academic achievement throughout his education and into adulthood. The short time he spent with Ms. Marie in Reading Recovery has made all the difference for Jack.
Parents of children who are struggling to read and write often wonder what they can do to help their children be better readers and writer. There are many things parents can do which can help young children with reading – read to them, give them books to read, point out letters and words you see in public, let them see you reading, take them to the library.
Even with these activities some children will struggle to learn to read once they get into school. For these children Reading Recovery is an effective way, in a short amount of time to bring the kids who are struggling the most up to a level equal to the other readers in their grade. Not all schools have Reading Recovery though, so one of the ways parents can help is to advocate for the school board, division or district to implement Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery makes a life long impact!
In 2014, the first Reading Recovery Training Centre in a First Nations community opened in Manitoba. The opening was cause for celebration.
Gloria Sinclair, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader for Manitoba First Nations Education & Resource Centre.
Gloria Sinclair was selected as the first Teacher Leader to guide the implementation of Reading Recovery. The winter issue of The Journal of Reading Recovery, features an article written by, Gloria Sinclair, Allyson Matczuk and Irene Huggins. The article that reflects on the implementation of Reading Recovery by the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. Outlined are the details of how Reading Recovery has been implemented in an area that this made up of many small, rural and very remote communities.
Read about the achievements of Ray, a student who could recognize only 7 letters and with only 12 lessons he read little books, wrote in full sentences and confidently answered questions about what he was doing!
The implementation has been so successful that a second Teacher Leader has been trained and another Reading Recovery Training Centre has just opened in Thompson, Manitoba.