The Role of Explicit Foundational skills in the Science of Reading ( 5/11/21)

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, The Role of Explicit Foundational skills in the Science of Reading ( 5/11/21). The summary for this episode is: <p>Learn about the top-rated program on EdReports, Amplify CKLA Skills, including how to use it as a standalone and how to integrate it into the curriculum you already have. You’ll also hear about one teacher’s experience and how it transformed her students’ reading journey.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Quotes:</strong></p><p><span class="ql-cursor"></span>“We talk about how in the brain and our brain’s is not naturally being wired to read. What we’re doing is developing those pathways, that switchboard that enables reading, that connects the vision center to the speech center.”</p><p><br></p><p>“… to have a program that is really going to make you a reading teacher and level the playing field.”</p><p><br></p><p>“We want to ensure that kiddos are receiving the same high quality instruction in every classroom within our building, and that is exactly what CKLA does and provide reassurance on.”</p>

Speaker 1: Hi, everyone coming in. We're just going to give everybody else a couple of seconds to sign in and then we'll go ahead and get started with the webinar.

Karen Venditti: Welcome everyone. Welcome back, we hope.

Speaker 1: Yes. So hi, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, The Role of Explicit Foundational Skills in the Science of Reading. Before we get started, I want to remind you that this is being recorded and it will be sent out to all registrants about 24 hours after the webinar ends. Please submit any questions you have in the Q and A box in your toolbar along the bottom of your screen, and if we have time, we'll get to them at the end. Close captioning is also available by clicking on Live Transcript in the toolbar along the bottom of your screen and you will have close captioning that way. All right, Karen and Meagan, take it away.

Karen Venditti: All right.

Meagan Molbert: Hi, everyone.

Karen Venditti: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us and thanks for coming back, we hope. We see people are already typing in where they're coming from in the chat, so you're very accustomed to the process. We appreciate that.

Meagan Molbert: Absolutely. It's like we know what to do in this virtual environment, Karen.

Karen Venditti: Exactly.

Meagan Molbert: So welcome.

Karen Venditti: So we're going to... Well, our images are there. We're going to give you a second. So as people are still joining, I know there are still people joining, we're going to give it another 30 seconds or so, Meagan.

Meagan Molbert: Sounds great. We have people from all over joining us today and it's such an honor to be here with so many educators from across the country. I don't know how... Oh, we even have someone from Australia joining us, Canada.

Karen Venditti: Canada, Opapa, Idaho, Delaware, San Jose. I love it. Ireland, Texas, Florida. And they keep coming.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, absolutely. So I'll go ahead and introduce myself while we are waiting on the rest of our friends to join. My name is Meagan Molbert and I am actually a former elementary teacher from the great state of Louisiana. The majority of the time that I spent in the classroom was actually in pre- K through second grade. And so, when we think about these years, these are foundational years that are really crucial and super impactful on student's reading success down the road. It was actually through my experience with teaching reading in the classroom through implementing Amplify CKLA that really allowed me that opportunity to put the Science of Reading into action in my classroom and also to continue to learn about that. And from there, I started working with educators across the country who were doing the same thing, and it was such a pleasure to really get to know the program very intimately. And now, I get to join Karen in presentations like this to spread the good news, not only about the Science of Reading, but also about how Amplify has instructional materials that help educators bring the Science of Reading to life into their classrooms. So I'm excited to be here.

Karen Venditti: And I'm excited to be with Meagan today. And just a little bit about my background, I was a first grade teacher, fifth grade, middle school language arts, pre- service teachers, but the best transition I made was coming to Amplify and really getting to work with teachers, implementing high quality instructional materials in their classroom. And I got to meet people, lots of people like Meagan, and I get to work with Meagan all the time. So that's why this has been phenomenal and share with all of you who joined us to learn more about CKLA and the Science of Reading. And so, today, that's exactly what we're going to do. We're going to give a little bit of an overview. This is a series of sessions, and so we know some people have already joined for the past couple, so we're going to really quickly go over the Science of Reading. But today is really all about CKLA Foundational Skills. And the neat thing is after we talked a little bit about that, we're going to have some special guests share their experiences. So you'll get to ask them some questions, and we're excited about that. And then we're going to share... We'll actually take some questions from you to share with them. And then, we're going to talk about some resources that you will have to access to after the webinar.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah. And Karen, we couldn't be more excited to have these guests and also share resources at the end of today's session. But we're actually going to hear from two CKLA teachers who have experienced the power of Amplify CKLA Foundational Skills program. And as a former educator myself, one of the best ways to really get insight is if a program's a good fit for you, and your students and your districts and your schools is to hear from teachers themselves, right? They spent every day in the trenches with a new program, they've made the shift, and there's a lot of challenges but also successes that we love to hear about. And so, we'll go to this poll, right? I know that we can all relate to this and meeting with teachers. And Karen, I see you smiling and nodding your head. When we think about our experience coming out of college, what did you feel was the... What was your... How well- prepared for teaching reading were you? And so, we'll let you guys go ahead and answer. And if you feel like you came out of college thinking what are foundational skills, then you would select the 1. If you feel like you were trained under Louisa Moats, then you would select 10, because obviously you would be prepared to really put best practices and science- based instruction into your classroom. Karen, what was your experience like?

Karen Venditti: I was trained in language, and so I might've gone to the lower end of that scale there. So we're excited to hear from you, but we also know just from talking to teachers in the field, and you know what Meagan and I have done with professional development, that there is quite a range of experiences in terms of your collegiate training. And so, we're excited to see, maybe we're excited to see, maybe we're scared to see the results.

Meagan Molbert: I would definitely have been on the lower range myself. I came out of college feeling like I was ready to teach math. I didn't know how to teach reading though. And so, it's definitely been a process. So let's see our results now.

Karen Venditti: As they're coming in. All right, so it is on the lower end.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, absolutely. It looks like we can relate and have a lot in common with the majority of participants who answered that poll, Karen. So that's typically how it goes.

Karen Venditti: And that's okay. And we're here to help you make that shift.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, absolutely. And something when looking at," Hey, why do we even need to make a shift and how that relates to foundational skills instruction," normally Karen, you and I, we start out with data, right, and we might go into a research. I can't remember if it was last week or not if I shared this, but this is some common research. We'll call this the first grade dilemma. If you're looking at this group of first graders thinking about foundational skills and how important first grade is for kiddos who were learning how to read, imagine these are 50 first graders who have gotten off on the wrong foot. They've had a really rocky start to learning how to read. And so, when we think about these kiddos, I'm sure most of you can relate, what do we end up doing with them when they've had a rocky start to learning how to read? Well, we turned to intervention as the solution to catch them back up. And when we do that, we think," Okay, with all this really hard work we do, we're going to catch these kids back up." But in all reality, what ends up happening is 44 out of these 50 first graders who were already not on the right path for reading proficiency will actually remain at risk for reading failure post- first grade and well into middle school. And so, when we think about our job as early childhood educators, those foundational years, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, these years are crucial when it comes to developing proficient readers. We all want what's best for kids, right? But obviously, nationally, we're going to need to make a shift with that. And so, whenever we think about science- based reading instruction, it is a matter of prevention. We don't want this to happen, and it takes a strong, explicit, systematic, foundational skills program to really turn this trajectory around. And so, thinking about science- based reading instruction, this whole webinar series that you guys have signed up for, that's what we are diving into.

Karen Venditti: And so, last time, if you attended last week, we did talk about the Simple View of Reading, Philip Gough and William Tunmer's work around the competencies that kiddos need to become proficient readers. And so, we'll just remind you that word recognition as we look at Hollis Scarborough's row. The word recognition and the language comprehension, both of those things are equally as important in terms of what kiddos need. And so, as we explore that last week, we looked at that language comprehension side and what a knowledge- rich curriculum entails. And we gave you some look fors and we talked about what that looks like in CKLA. And I did the knowledge- rich curriculum side of the rope and Meagan looked at the explicit, systematic phonics instruction.

Meagan Molbert: Absolutely. And as we unpacked the word recognition side of things and identified these key characteristics of what explicit, systematic foundational skills instruction should entail, we actually started out by really looking into," Hey, what is word recognition? What's the ultimate goal here?" And thinking back to the brain, our brain's not being naturally wired to learn how to read. When we think about foundational skills and word recognition, what we're really doing is building or developing those competencies that are the nuts and bolts to early literacy so that students can actually connect speech sounds to print, right? And the ultimate goal is decoding and decoding without any effort, right? That's what really allows for comprehension. And when we looked at word recognition, we talked about how in the brain and our brain's not naturally being wired to read, what we're doing is developing those pathways, that switchboard that enables reading, that connects the vision center to the speech center. It's called the visual word form area. But basically, if you have it, you can read. If you don't, you can not. So when thinking about those foundational years, the ultimate goal is to develop those pathways that connect the vision center to the speech center, connecting speech to print so that we can actually decode words and have enough room or energy left in the brain for comprehension, but it takes a strong, explicit, systematic approach to teaching foundational skills to do that.

Karen Venditti: And so, some of you may be here because you've done your research and looked at EdReports. CKLA Skills was that first foundational skills program rated all- green. And so, we're very proud of that. And so, today, we're digging in thoroughly to the skills portion of the CKLA curriculum.

Meagan Molbert: Absolutely. And in fact, in thinking about CKLA and our comprehensive curriculum, our comprehensive kindergarten through fifth grade program that does place an equal emphasis on both foundational skills and language comprehension, yes, it has an all- green rating on EdReports. And we take a two- strain approach because of what, thinking back to the Reading Rope, what that approach to teaching beginning learners how to read, what that looks like. But today, as Karen mentioned, is all about the foundational skill strand that has been given that all- green rating and that is going to develop those word recognition competencies as identified in Scarborough's Reading Rope. And so, we're going to do that in a very explicit, systematic way that's been proven to be effective.

Karen Venditti: And so, for our kindergarten teachers on the call, you know it's all about phonological awareness. We're going to start with those early skills, making sure kids are hearing those sounds and words so we can develop that to that more challenging skill of phonemic awareness, the isolation of those sounds, the manipulation of those sounds. But in CKLA, we then advance to that basic code. We're going to teach that in kindergarten. The most common are least ambiguous sound spelling patterns. But by the end of second grade, students will have been taught all 150 sound spelling patterns for those 44 sounds.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah. And Karen, that's such a key look for, does your curriculum explicitly teach all 150 sound spellings for the 44 sounds during those K to two years?

Karen Venditti: Exactly. And so, how do we do that? We're going to start... It's all about orthographic mapping. It's about mapping those sounds to letters, getting kids practicing that. They're going to be reading regularly connected texts, the decodable reader. They're going to be writing. Because that's what we know, it's not just about reading. We want students writing about that content and stories they're reading in those rich- decodable texts throughout that K to two experience.

Meagan Molbert: Absolutely. And so, when we think about high quality instructional materials, we can learn about the Science of Reading and really builds capacity for brain science and what instruction should entail. But oftentimes as teachers, it's hard to find high quality instructional materials that really make this achievable, right, bringing that new learning to life in your classroom. But with Amplify CKLA's Foundational Skill strand, it really sets you guys, sets educators up for success. I can speak to this from experience. I'm a former CKLA teacher. And one of the first things you look at when you open up a lesson, our primary focus objectives, this really sets the stage and identifies the goals and objectives for your students throughout the lesson, but these are standards- based objectives. So this is driving your foundational skills instruction. And so, when thinking about those K to two years, it's impaired. It's crucial that we constantly check the pulse on where students are and mastering these standards- based objectives. They're making progress towards that. So you have daily formative assessment and opportunities specifically for that. Now, when we think about phonological and phonemic awareness skills, these foundational skills that are really going to set the stage for student's decoding ability and fluent reading throughout their lives, it does start with phonemic awareness. And in CKLA and kindergarten, we really move slow to go fast. So we're going to actually start with teaching kids how to orally blend and segment words, and we're going to use blending picture cards and kinesthetic motions to teach this. After all, blending is what underlies the ability to decode words and segmenting is actually what enables spelling or encoding. And so, we're going to teach these in tandem. This is all done orally. So students are blending sounds like at, hat, or we're giving them the number of sounds and they're segmenting those. And this is all done orally before we're going to actually connect those sounds to print. So you will see those phonological and phonemic awareness activities actually spiral throughout kindergarten and first grade. But as instruction shifts to phonics, this is what it sounds like. We're going to take a sounds- first approach because research shows that foundational reading instruction that starts with sounds actually benefits the greatest number of students. That's what we all want. And so, as a CKLA teacher, you're actually using your instructional roadmap to help introduce a new sound, which sounds something like," Boys and girls, today we're going to learn a new sound. We're going to learn the er sound. Can you say the er sound?" And students are going to repeat the er sound after you. As a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, my kiddos would... We'd say it in a monster voice, in a mouse voice, we'd say it in a smart first grade voice, but they're going to be participating in just hearing that sound and repeating it as well as words that contain the er sound. From there, the next activity... And this is a first grade lesson, by the way, and so it's just giving you guys an idea of how a lesson flows. From there though, we're going to actually shift down to the phoneme level. So we're going to... In this example, this is sound riddles. So we're going to give students a riddle and they're going to provide the answer that has the er sound in the word. So they're really having to identify words that contain the er sound. But for a child who gives you a word out of left field like the word red, as a teacher, given that this is all oral, that child obviously can't hear the er sound. So I know I'm going to have to provide them more support, especially once I connect this to print. Now, maybe they just need more opportunities to hear it, so they actually hear the sound. So CKLA actually has a digital student hub that provides them additional opportunities to hear that new sound that they're learning. So students can go to their sound library and listen to fun, catchy songs to hear the sound again. I'll let you guys take a look. Many kiddos love to dance along.

Speaker 4: (singing)

Meagan Molbert: So there you go. Your kiddos, I know my kiddos love songs, especially if you're in those K to two years, this is just that additional opportunity, that multi- sensory approach.

Speaker 4: (singing).

Meagan Molbert: They get to listen to that song again. Now, from there, it's going to be time to crack the code here. So as a teacher, we've introduced the sound students haven't heard and repeated that sound in words, we've identified words containing the er sound, and now I'm going to connect it to print here. And so, the CKLA's instructional roadmap actually gives you guidance for actually forming the letters in each sound. So the handwriting instruction is actually connected to the phonics scope and sequence here. So you're going to explicitly model that as the teacher, and then students are going to take pencil to paper and practice reading and writing the sounds in words as they develop fine motor skills and handwriting fluency in their student activity books. So as a teacher, you also get to receive feedback. For example, that first opportunity or that first page, I'm actually modeling along with my kiddos. I'm making the sound as we're writing it, saying the handwriting strokes. And then from there, that back page on the activity actually is that first time that students can apply it when connecting it to text or to paper. And so, this is that opportunity for feedback. For my honor above level students, they're going to do this independently, but for my kiddo who gave me the word red during sound riddles, they need more support. And so, CKLA's instruction actually allows you to make those grouping decisions. There's small group decisions to say," Hey, I'm going to provide this child who's struggling with reading skills, I'm going to work in a small group setting with them and to provide them the support and scaffolding that they need." And so, this is just one of the many opportunities in CKLA to really differentiate your instruction and provide that additional support. Now, in your classroom kits in CKLA's Foundational Skills program, there are a variety of resources, visual resources to help support your phonics instruction such as sound posters in kindergarten, vowel and consonant code flip books in first and second grade, and individual code charts for first and second graders as well. And so, many times, you think about a kid who's raising their hand," Miss Venditti, how do I spell?" And as a teacher, you're like," Tell me the sounds you hear. All right, well, let's look in your individual code chart." This is that resource to support that. So from there though, we want to make sure that students have additional visual and auditory practice opportunities. So they actually get to watch interactive videos on their digital student hub, whether it's in the classroom, at home, during remediation time, to really fine- tune their articulation as they join in with other children. And so, this is just another opportunity for them to hear the sound, make the sound, and then connect it to print. But as Karen talked about, it's all about orthographic mapping. We know what science- based reading tells us or science tells us is that mapping sounds to letters is a really crucial component that kids need to develop into a skill decoder and a fluent reader. And so, in CKLA's Foundational Skills program, you'll see engaging activities like chaining. This is one of those many deliberate practice opportunities where students are actually building and reading words as they're learning those sounds.

Karen Venditti: And so, they're going to do that and they're going to start with that in kindergarten with some chaining folders. And you can probably see things around me. I have my chaining folders and big books and the flip books, but all of those are going to help students build their skills organically.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, absolutely. This is such a powerful tool. I know as a kindergarten teacher, it was always kind of like letter of the day, letter of the week instruction. We teach the whole alphabet and all the sounds, but as students are actually learning new sounds in kindergarten, they're actually working with building and reading those words. So for example, you're teaching the digraph, ng, and students are changing at to that. And this is really that engaging, tactile experience to develop those pathways in the brain, but it is all about bringing it all together and applying all of those foundational skills to build fluency. And so, CKLA students actually do this in their connected texts that are 100% decodable, which means that they're never asked to use unreliable reading strategies or apply skills they haven't been explicitly taught. This makes all learners really feel successful. And not only does it help your students to see themselves as readers and feel successful and build self- advocacy, but it really does make your phonics instruction meaningful. This is tying it all together.

Karen Venditti: So as we go into kindergarten, you're seeing on the page kit, that's our first book that kids are going to experience, and we're going to make sure they're very successful. They're going to be prepared with all of those sound spelling patterns so that when they get into that text, they feel so confident and comfortable reading. But by the end of kindergarten, our K teachers are so excited to see kiddos reading paragraphs with advanced punctuation and that more challenging text by the end of K. As we move into first grade though, you're going to start out with that and notice the text takes a little bit of a backward step because we're going to review in the beginning of first grade. We're going to make sure kids are coming back acclimated to the school setting, so we're going to review what happens in kindergarten. And then by the end of first grade, look at where we're going to Kay and Martez, and Martez goes on a trip to Mexico. So not only are kids learning to read in K to two, they are reading to learn in these wonderful, rich decodable texts. Because when you get to second grade, again, we take a little step back because we're reviewing in that beginning of second grade with The Cat Bandit, and the kids love The Cat Bandit. He's a little trickster. But by the end of second grade, our third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers are so appreciative because their kiddos have been prepared with reading informational texts like the War of 1812, about the Star- Spangled Banner, and Dolley Madison, some history, which is really great in those decodables.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah. And you know, Karen, I will say, we talked about this earlier, second grade teachers, whenever they look at the War of 1812 in Unit 6, oftentimes they're astonished, right, and thinking about," Can our kiddos really do this?" Well, these are on- level texts, right? We're using on- level instruction, and students are having access to this grade level texts to apply all of that awesome foundational skills instruction you've just provided. But the War of 1812 is actually wrapping up all of those sound spellings, all of those foundational skills that, you guys', kindergarten, first and second grade teachers have worked so hard to teach them. But it's also, like you said, bridging that learning to read, reading to learn. Students actually in second grade in our knowledge strand learn about the War of 1812 prior to this as well. So whether or not you're using CKLA's foundational skills program in addition to whatever you're doing to build knowledge in the classroom or if you're using our whole program, it's going to bring everything together to make sure they're ready for third grade. But when we look at CKLA student readers, they're extremely unique in the fact that students actually, all of these texts are in chapter book format, so students get to follow diverse characters across various adventures to learn through each chapter. And so, in The Green Fern Zoo, they actually meet Vern in the first chapter, and Vern is going to take them across the Green Fern Zoo to learn about chimps, reef sharks, puffins, trout fish, all kinds of incredible animals. But it's really about giving them that opportunity to master those skills you've explicitly taught up until that point. But what you'll notice in our on- level connected texts, a key indicator of science- based reading instruction and explicit, systematic foundational skills instruction is that we not only provide students with the opportunity to apply these skills, but we're going to provide them support as well. So you see that the new sound spellings are going to be bolded. And when thinking about those kids who need more support, as the teacher in the classroom, this is your opportunity to work in a small group setting with those kids who do need more support, or maybe it is working your honor above level kids or partner reading or reading in small groups, or maybe it's that you want to hear your on- level kids read. All of our readers are actually accessible on that digital hub that you guys saw the videos on, and students can access these texts in e- reader or audio book format. So if you're listening to on or above grade level kids, your below- level kids can actually listen to these texts being read to them by professional narrator and follow along. In fact, CKLA's Foundational Skills program really provides all of the tools that you need to make this grade level instruction achievable from the materials' perspective, but also from the instruction and students practicing and applying those skills as well.

Karen Venditti: And so, once they read about that, we want them writing about it. We want to ask them questions about that because remember, it's not about dictating or decoding's sake, it's really about decoding for comprehension's sake. And so, you see we're going to ask some questions and ask for text- based evidence. We ask them to go back into the reader to find what page. And you're also noticing those scaffolds that Meagan mentioned are part of the activity book pages as well. So we're going to ask them about those animals they read, but once they've shared what they know about these animals, we're going to ask them to write a little bit of a lengthier piece, and we're going to support teachers in writing that lengthier piece. And so, as we move to that name of the critter, I hope you notice that too, because we're providing that E- R spelling for that er sound because it applies to that text. And we're going to support teachers with all those tools like checklists and rubrics that's going to guide them and their kiddos in that writing process.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah. And Karen, in thinking about foundational skills, we're really starting out at the sentence level here. This is where that explicit instruction starts out at the sentence level. Like you said, they can develop these lengthier pieces. And one thing in writing about that connected text, it really is a matter of equity. Oftentimes, in early years, we rely on student's life experiences when we're teaching that formal writing process. And here, we're actually using that connected text for them to all... They're all in that same topic, and here they're actually going through that formal writing process, and it truly is amazing to see how effective that is. Now, when you have kiddos and we all have them, right, who just don't master those skills the first time around, sometimes it just takes a few additional at- bats, they need more engagement or opportunities with developing those skills. So at the end of every foundational skills lesson, there is actually an additional support component that you as the teacher have, you have access to game boards and progress monitoring probes that just measure the sound spellings you're teaching that week. This is such a helpful piece as a teacher to make sure that your remediation instruction is aligning with your core instruction, and it's all right there for you, all at right point of views.

Karen Venditti: And so, after we do all of that wonderful instruction and kids are applying those skills, we want to know how are they doing. So we do have those End- of- Unit Assessments. And so, it may be a little bit different in CKLA. We are not story of the week. We're really all about application of skills. We want to know, can they take what we've been teaching and apply it to a new read? And so, they're going to read Amber, E- R, the Bat, and we're going to ask them questions because, again, it's about comprehension. We're going to ask some questions and we're also going to assess whatever grammar skills or convention skills, whatever word we've taught in that unit, we're going to assess them on. Those benchmark assessments are there for teachers as well because that helps teachers monitor the growth of students, provide a baseline for their instruction in moving forward, ensuring kiddos are advancing towards grade level objectives. And then, I do know the question will come up and I think our special guests will be able to talk about this more, but what if my kids don't get it? Even when Meagan talked about those additional support, we do have an intervention toolkit that helps you to assess that need and plan and teach right on the teacher resource site. You have access to all of those resources if your kiddos need extra.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, absolutely. So when districts make the shift or when schools make the shift to explicit, systematic foundational skills instruction using CKLA's Foundational Skills Strand, these are the results they're seeing, and finally their RTI triangles are right side up. This is the goal for everyone. And as we touched on in the beginning, it's a matter of prevention, right? We don't want to have an intervention problem, and that starts out with making sure that our foundational skills instruction that's only half of the equation is really grounded in science. And so last week, we actually shared our Science of Reading making the shift toolkit, and this is an e- book format. And really, when looking at classroom instruction, whether it's your current instruction, whether it's you looking at a foundational skills program or evaluating maybe a program that you just adopted and having to add in some additional pieces, we actually have tools that help you identify, does this phonological awareness that's included in this program, is this instruction really needing all of those necessary elements that science- based research calls for? Are there multiple opportunities for students to engage in sound and wordplay? Does the program use the sounds- first approach? Are all 150 sound spellings for the 44 sounds going to be explicitly taught? And also, are decoding and encoding taught in tandem? And do students have those deliberate practice opportunities with connected texts and really being taught that blending is the way that we decode words? And so, Amplify CKLA's Foundational Skills program meets all of these necessary elements that it takes to really turn the student's trajectory around. But we can sit here, Karen and I, and we can talk to you guys all day long about this. We're very passionate about the program from the personal experiences we've had with it, but the best way to really learn about a program is to hear from teachers using it. And so, today we are so blessed and so fortunate to have some key educators who are second grade teachers from New Glarus, Wisconsin who are going to speak to their experience through implementing a foundational skills program and what that shift looked like and what those successes and challenges were actually like. And so, I'd like to welcome Jodi and Michelle who are joining us. You know, guys, they've actually had a full day in the classroom today. And so, we're actually going to let them introduce themselves and we're going to ask a few questions and open up the floor to you guys as well. So Jodi and Michelle, if you want to introduce yourself and what your background is, we'd love to hear from you.

MIchelle Arnett: All right. My name is Michelle Arnett. I have taught 4K, kindergarten, first, second, and third grade in my career. This is my 21st year. I was also early on in my career trained in reading recovery. And so, I have done several years of that program as well. And have taught second grade CKLA, this is my third year.

Jodi McGraw: And I'm Jodi McGraw, and this is my 17th year teaching. I have taught, let's see, third grade, 4K-

MIchelle Arnett: First grade.

Jodi McGraw: ...first grade, and second grade. I currently teach second grade. And five years ago, four years ago, I piloted CKLA for our school for second grade. And then after a year of teaching, well, shortly after starting CKLA, we decided as a district that everybody at our elementary school would do CKLA.

Karen Venditti: That's really exciting. I have to ask a question. One question just popped out as Michelle was talking, because I am a former Reading Recovery teacher as well. And I know, Meagan, we have so many conversations with people across the country who are trying to make a shift from that guided reading, those leveled readers to more of a structured literacy program. And so, maybe both of you can speak to that to start us off on that conversation because people on the call are making that shift as well. And so, how do we help people and what was your journey like in making that shift?

MIchelle Arnett: Well, for me, Reading Recovery was great, but it's also a very intensive development to be able to do Reading Recovery well and be able to choose books that are appropriate for children. I had very intensive instruction on how to do that. As a first year teacher saying," Here's a whole bunch of books," put some kids together in a group and teach them guided reading, I was a little bit at a loss. I learned a lot through Reading Recovery. CKLA makes you a reading teacher, whether you are one or not. And I think that's what our district was looking for is it didn't matter what classroom our second graders were in, they were going to get a strong reading teacher because we had a strong reading program. And so, if you haven't had the background like I have in Reading Recovery or you're a first- year teacher, you have a solid reading program to get started and your kids aren't going to be behind because you're a first- year teacher, or you haven't had that same instruction that say your kids are still going to benefit from a really strong reading program. And small group is great. We did a lot of small group. The problem is what are the other kids doing while I'm at small group? And that's very difficult for kindergartners, first graders, and second graders because there's not a lot of independent things that they can be doing for 45 minutes to an hour while I'm working with a small group. We struggled with that for years.

Jodi McGraw: Not a lot of things that have value that they can do independently.

MIchelle Arnett: Yeah. So on our schedule, we'd have an hour- and- a- half of reading because I have three groups at a half hour, but really they were only getting a half hour reading instruction because the other hour, they're just sitting there while I was working with the other kids.

Karen Venditti: Those are some great information to have, and I know our teachers are thinking about that. And I think that's another question that comes up with CKLA when we talk about whole group versus small group, and how does that change in terms of that skill- based instructions. And I know Meagan has things to add to this as well, so I don't want to dominate these questions.

Meagan Molbert: No, listen, Karen and I, when we end these calls, whenever we have panelists or CKLA teachers, we are so excited to just debrief about what you guys share, and the thing that stood out the most to me about what you just said was that CKLA makes every teacher reading teacher. And that is exactly what I experienced in the classroom. At the beginning of this, we shared what was your practicum experience like, did it prepare you to teach reading, and I didn't come out feeling prepared. I know many teachers who we talk to on calls, on presentations say the exact same thing. And so, what a powerful statement to have a program that is really going to make you a reading teacher and level the playing field. When we talk about kids having instructional materials, yes, it is absolutely a matter of equity, right? Do they have access to on- level texts, all of these things? But when it comes to the classroom teacher, it's also a matter of equity as well. We want to ensure that kiddos are receiving the same high quality instruction in every classroom within our building, and that is exactly what CKLA does provide reassurance on. And so, when you said that, I actually got chill bumps and I was like," Oh my gosh, I'm jumping out of my skin right now." And so, as Karen talked about the whole group, the small group, you guys talked a lot about that, and that's something that we do hear from teachers is," Hey, where's the small group instruction in CKLA? Does this mean that we're going to be teaching in a whole group setting throughout the 60- minute foundational skills block?" And the short answer is no, right? And so, if you guys could really hone in on that, we'd love to hear more about that.

MIchelle Arnett: Well, I guess, we do it several different ways. One, CKLA already has it built in saying," Hey, if Group 1 can handle this sheet on their own, let those kids do it. You grab your Group 2 kids and then do a small table and do it together." So CKLA has that built in there to go," Oh yeah, that's right. I can do this in multiple ways." We do a lot of partner reading. I have been able to... This year, I have a student that's borderline non- reader. So I've actually been able to be his partner while my other kids are reading, and we've been doing some of his Tier 2 instruction during the reading block because that's when it makes sense. He can't read all of the texts in our readers, so we read the first paragraph or page together and then we flip gears and we work on things that he needs. So he's still getting second grade instruction, he's still reading second grade text, but then I'm also able to fill those holes while all my other kids are working on second grade material and they're not losing out and he's not losing out. So it gives me that flexibility to do that. And then, we have Tier 2 time built in later in the day. And so, we use the assessments after every unit. We've picked what are our essential learning targets. If a child doesn't meet that essential learning target, that's what we use for Tier 2. And then, Amplify has all sorts of, I mean, they almost have more than you need for resources. I think the Remediation when we first opened, it was like 1, 100 pages. I mean, if you can't find something to do through Amplify, then you're not looking for it because there's a ton of stuff out there to remediate what you're working on. We also have access to first grade and kindergarten readers. If we needed to go back and do things like that, we have access to that. And of course, the website gives you access to all grade level materials. So when I log in, I don't just have second grade material. If it's something that was delivered in first grade and it's a skill we need to work on, I can always go back to first grade and look up those skills.

Jodi McGraw: In fact, we just did that while you were speaking before when you had the first grade reader up, and we were talking about where they do text- based evidence, we were like," Oh, I wonder where they start that?" So on a different computer, we were looking at first grade going," Oh, yup, less than 13 is where they start." The other piece that I really enjoy about it is that the skills are broken down so much in my materials that I know as I'm teaching, these three kids definitely need to work on the foundational skill of say the E- A sound. They may not need that specific intervention when we go to read. So I can put this group of six into a foundational skills vowel sound group and I know that this six need a reading intervention where we're working on fluency or reading or pulling information out of texts. So I feel like I'm assessing them the whole time I'm teaching so that I know exactly what they need and when they need it and what to do about it. Because a lot of times, we were getting really good at identifying that our kids didn't have a specific skill, but we didn't know what to do next.

Meagan Molbert: And isn't it great to rest your head on the pillow at night knowing that what you are doing to target that deficit or that deficiency is actually aligning to what you're doing before? Like using pedagogical approach, I know that is one thing. It's like," Oh, I'm doing what's best for kids today."

Jodi McGraw: Yes, and I'm not reinventing the wheel. I know what I'm going to do today and then I know what I'm going to do with them tomorrow to further that skill and that intervention. So yeah, just that entire sequence of like," I know what I did with them yesterday, I know what I did with them today, and I know what I'm going to do with them tomorrow."

MIchelle Arnett: Which was a real lifeline when we went to virtual last year. CKLA was fantastic to have that. And when we knew what they missed in first grade, we had those opportunities to go back and review those because we knew what they missed. Having had a curriculum that we didn't have, that I've had to invent, virtual school would have been a complete nightmare. So it was very, very nice to have CKLA last year when we were virtual.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah, Michelle, you hit the nail on the head. We actually... Who are we interviewing, Karen, on the podcast? Was it Pam Snow, that she actually talked about virtual learning and how an explicit, systematic approach for remote learning is what has kept educators afloat. But whether you're virtual or not, think about the time you guys in the past have spent in the classroom, especially that first half of the year, trying to figure out what do my kids know, what do they not know, right? And it goes back to exactly what you just said. I know exactly that my kiddos in my classroom were coming to me all having received that same grade level skills instruction using the same sounds- first approach. We're used to the routines, all of the things, but I knew what sounds spellings they had been taught already. It wasn't a guessing game based off of the teacher they had. And so, that saves you so much time as well.

Jodi McGraw: And when we went virtual, we were literally and figuratively on the same page. When we had to restructure how school looks and how it works, we didn't have to start way back at square one. We hit the ground running because we were actually on the same page as a team so that we could deliver that curriculum to our kids.

MIchelle Arnett: So if you walked into our building today, you would have seen all of us teaching Lesson 6 of Skill 6 in all four second grade classrooms. There's nobody on a different page, nobody's going rogue. We're all staying together. That way, when we assess them at the end, we can come together and compare what our kiddos did and where did things go well and where they didn't go well because we're all doing the same thing. Nobody's creating," Oh, I think this is more important so I'm going to go this way. This is more important so I'm going this way. Or, I don't like teaching this, I'm going to skip this and we're going to move on to this." That doesn't happen here. We've taught every skill, every lesson on the same day so that we can have those conversations about what our kids are doing. We don't have to spend time on what we're teaching. That's done for us. Now, we can do the next step of what don't they know, how do we know they don't know it, and now what are we going to do when they don't know it. And so, that's CKLA letting us have those conversations, and we're not spending an hour just planning what we're doing next week because it's already there for us.

Karen Venditti: That is fantastic to think about the formative assessment that guides all of your instruction, as well as you're hitting on a point of equity that everyone is getting that instruction. And I think something else that comes up and maybe both of you, Michelle, Jodi, you can talk to that question of what about my kids that get it pretty quickly? What about my kids that... How do I enrich? How do I keep kids moving forward faster? And so, can you speak a little bit to that because we get that question a lot as well.

MIchelle Arnett: Yeah. I mean, I guess it's just like we've done with anything else. We've encouraged extra reading. I've allowed them to... When we get on partner reading, I'll go back and reread any of the stories that we've already read silently, getting ready for third grade, because silent reading isn't a huge expectation in second grade but we want to start laying that foundation for third grade and fourth grade and fifth grade. I've got tons of chapter books. My kids, based off of our knowledge units which I know we're not talking about, but they seek out books in the library constantly about the things that we're learning in knowledge. And so, they just... Any information, they're my kind of kids that, I mean, I can throw pretty much anything at them. Sometimes there's take- home activities in the workbook. There's also pausing point worksheets at the end that we don't always get to, but they're great for my high kids because I can say," Hey, pick one. Pick whatever one you want," because I know they can do it independently and they are able to do that and further their learning. So there's lots of opportunities in that workbook and throughout the program to keep them moving.

Jodi McGraw: And I think as an administrative focus it has been, in the past, we've talked about choosing high quality curriculums so that we're at the point where we know what our kids need to know, we know if they know it and we're getting to have those conversations about what do we do with the kids who do know it. And so, we're having more conversations about how to extend their learning instead of all the focus being on how do we intervene here on our kids that don't know. And one of the things I really loved is particularly last year, I had really strong readers. So I had a bigger group of kids who already knew it, but there was more... It went deeper with the reading. I had kids who could read. They could read like the wind. But if I asked them inferential questions like," How do you know the character was feeling that way," or kids really struggled with, who were good readers, had never been asked to go back in the text and show me the illustration where they got that information or the specific paragraph, like how do you know they were feeling that way or how do you know they were thinking that, and it was almost as if like," I don't know. I read it. I don't know." And so, some of that extension is even built into the curriculum and it isn't me or another teacher dreaming it up. It's actually in the curriculum.

MIchelle Arnett: I would also say to pass reading programs that we've done where we read and my kids who are really good readers, they would get bored with the stories or they're like," Eh," these readers that we read in second grade, my kids absolutely love. It doesn't matter if they're the high flyers, the middle of the road, or the struggling readers. They love to read about Kim and Kurt and their adventures in New York City because in little nooglers, it was inaudible and we don't have skyscrapers or subways. So they learn also. They love Sir Gus. They are absolutely experts about the War of 1812. Right now, you could ask them anything and they could probably tell you the first four presidents of the United States and how hard it was for James Madison to make his decision. And they're all engaged no matter where they're at, and I think that has a lot to do with high quality materials and high quality readers. You talked about the Cat Bandit. I've got kids reading chapter books right now, but if I pulled the Cat Bandit out, they would pick that over anything else because they love the stories. They absolutely love them.

Jodi McGraw: And there's something to be said for all of them being in the same reader.

MIchelle Arnett: Yes.

Jodi McGraw: It all started in Cat Bandit and they are all in the War of 1812 now.

MIchelle Arnett: And I will say, I think more than anything, it's helped my kids who struggle because they are still with their peers. They're still learning but they aren't singled out. And I'm not handing them this phonics book at level A, they are reading second grade materials. Obviously, the program's differentiating for them, I'm differentiating for them, but they get to be with their peers and we all get to experience those great stories together. And it's not just about reading them. It's being able to read them, read them with a partner, read them with the expression, being able to answer questions about them, but then having a conversation when we all read a good book, just being able to talk about it. And you'll hear their conversations, they'll be on the playground, and one kid is Sir Gus and the other one is King Alfred, and they're playing on the playground. Or, I'll have a parent call me and be like," Man, I had to Google the War of 1812 last night because my kid had all these questions about it." And so, it really doesn't matter where they're at. The material and the readers keep them all engaged. And I haven't had any students who are like," Oh, we're going to read again. I already know how to read them." No, they're there right there with their classmates, no matter what.

Jodi McGraw: It's huge that they see themselves as readers. Those kids who maybe have never thought of themselves as readers before, they're like," Well, that kid is in this book and that kid's in this book," and they look around and they genuinely see themselves as readers, and that's huge.

MIchelle Arnett: I would also say... I'm sorry. I would also say for my high flying kids, I also partner them with a struggling student and they get to take that role on as a mentor, as a role model for reading. We talk about how you help people when they read, how you're a good partner. It is really good for some of my kids to be put into that leadership role.

Jodi McGraw: It's powerful.

MIchelle Arnett: Yup. And yet, they're still doing the same thing as all the rest of the kids.

Karen Venditti: And so, I wanted to add one thing, Meagan, because I see some things coming in the chat. I'm trying to watch the chat. I'm trying to see questions. You're hitting so many, the things that are coming up. We do have some really specific questions, but one thing that just came up about with the science and the social studies, I just want to clarify that you are talking about skills only. You are not talking, because I think people are... We talked about that last week, the integration of all of that. That's what's so great about these readers. They are learning about topics and content. Like you said, the subway New York, they're learning about that through decodable text and in lots of times, that really escapes people because the decodable texts of the past that many people are familiar with do not have those stories and themes and characters and all of that. So I'm so excited that you shared that. And I just wanted to clarify that for folks that were... Because we're getting some questions more on a little bit of the knowledge strand that is not what we're talking about right now.

Jodi McGraw: That's really important too and that was a big focus when we were choosing a new curriculum. Our past curriculum really did a good job of teaching our kids to read, but it didn't make them readers and there was no way to connect it to real life. These are obscure, random, specific only to second grade reader. It wasn't like you would go home and have a conversation with your parents or hear it referenced on the... There weren't any connections being made to what was happening in the classroom and what was happening out in the world. And our readers definitely make those connections, and parents can have a conversation with their kids about what they read. They reference it in other places in their day and in their life. That was really missing from our previous curriculum.

MIchelle Arnett: Yeah, absolutely. When we learned about the sisters that swam together, we'll pull up Michael Phelps and we're watching him doing his Olympic swimming because our kids in New Glarus don't have a lot of context on what it is to be part of a swim team so we'll show that. Or-

Jodi McGraw: We had three sisters who went to state so we crosstalk.

MIchelle Arnett: Yeah. So I mean, there's a lot. Those stories are stories that those kids can read, but they can relate to those stories. And if you asked any of our kids, they love Sir Gus. Total made up story but they just love how he can flop through life and become this amazing knight, and they just love it. And every time I would read, we were going to," Oh, 11 knights showed up," and they're like," Oh, they're supposed to be 12. You know who's not there." You know what I mean? They're loving all those stories that we read. And I get excited, I'm like," Oh, yay. I get to show them Sir Gus now," and like," Just check out the cover. Don't open it yet." They get so excited about the next book. And to your point, they think they're reading a chapter book because of the way they're set up. So they're in second grade going like," Chapter 1? We're reading Chapter 1 of Cat Bandit?" I'm like," Yup, it's a chapter book." Or, we're taking notes right now and skills on the War of 1812 and like," They do this in college, boys and girls. We're going to do this in second grade." And they're like,"What," and I'm like," Yup, we can do this. This is easy." And so, those are all things that are happening during our skills time.

Meagan Molbert: You know what, I am so glad you touched on that with... First of all, I was a CKLA teacher. I had never had the experience of telling a child like," No, you can't keep reading. We're going to read that chapter tomorrow." And that was a real thing. That was the real problem. It was like," Can we keep reading and going on," because they love it so much. One thing that I enjoy asking educators, CKLA educators, is you guys talked about coming from other programs, coming from being a Reading Recovery teacher. And we have so many participants who often ask whether it'd be administrators or teachers at their school who were like," Look, we understand the value of science- based reading instruction, however not everyone's on board." And so, I'm asking this question and it's kind of a multi- layered question, when thinking back to your initial experience with CKLA and just the foundational skill strand, obviously that was a shift for you guys. And so, I have worked with teachers who have made that shift, they see results. They're so excited to share the results, but they still have this hard connection to older ways or previous ways of teaching. And so, they're almost torn. And when I talk about that, I guess, or when I'm asking this, I want to know if you guys had any kind of... Were you torn between," Hey, I used to do this and if I move to CKLA and I'm seeing these results, does that mean that I haven't been doing the right thing," and all of those questions, right? You're laughing because it's a real thought, but also thinking about that feeling. And also, what advice do you have for other teachers like yourself who are wanting to implement explicit, systematic foundational skills instruction through using the skill strand, but are hesitant to do so? What advice do you have?

MIchelle Arnett: Well, I think we come from a district that we take a little bit of the guilt away. We did what we thought was right at the time, right?

Jodi McGraw: No harm.

MIchelle Arnett: We thought we were doing... We were all in our reading curriculum, we were seeing some results, but there were also conversations. There were holes in it, and we were all well aware of what those holes were because we were having those conversations. I guess what I would say to another teacher that's struggling with making the change, CKLA is good for kids and I'm willing to do whatever's good for kids. And if CKLA shows me the results that I need for my kids, then I'm all on board because I'm all about what's best for kids. And if that's what's best for kids, then that's what I'll do. And will it be a lot of work the first year? Yup, absolutely, just like anything else, but it will pay off and it's worth the work, I think anyways.

Jodi McGraw: Yes. And we had many... It came about organically too. It came more, I feel like, a lot of times when we get a new curriculum, it comes from, or in the past, it came from administrative down. And this time, it really felt organic that it was as a staff and as teachers, kindergarten, first, second that we're teaching kids to read. We were like," Hmm, this doesn't feel like..." Teaching a bad curriculum is as much work as teaching a really good one. Well, it's the same amount of time, sometimes more. So you might as well teach really good curriculum, and that's where we were at. We were like," Hmm, this was good. How do we go from good to great?" That was the lot of the conversations we had as a staff. I think also our ability to pilot each person. There was one person at each grade level. I know that's tricky if you don't have the resources or the personnel to do that. But we really, I mean, we dove right in and I taught it, and my colleagues respected my opinions of CKLA. We had conversations about it and I just felt like the buy- in was there and a little bit like," Oh my gosh, yeah." Teaching is hard. You might as well teach really good curriculum.

MIchelle Arnett: And I guess as far as I go, we have a really strong principal and strong administrator, and so I also very much value her opinion and how she spoke about it. And so, that helped me a lot. I would also say there were many, many lessons in our previous curriculum where I was like," Oh, man, I got to teach this again today. I hate this story. I never get the questions right." I never feel... I'm excited to teach skills every day. I'm excited to teach knowledge every day. Even after three years, I just feel like it gets better every year because I get better at it and the kids are coming up with more knowledge because they've had kindergarten and first grade skills. And I look forward to teaching it every day where I didn't feel that way in our old curriculum. It felt much harder to get through the day or be more excited about doing it, and I don't feel that way with CKLA. I'm excited to teach it every day.

Meagan Molbert: And I can totally relate. And if you're a CKLA educator on the call, I'm sure you feel the same way. I cannot thank you guys. I know Karen feels the same way. Your passion that you brought to this conversation is something that I would love to bottle up and share with everyone around the world. But you talked about buy- in and it really goes back to wanting to learn more about," Hey, why is science- based reading instruction necessary," right? And so, if you guys are on the call and you want to learn more about Amplify CKLA and the foundational skill strand, you can visit ckla where you can actually be in touch with someone from Amplify to give you more information and also get an overview. But as you guys saw on the call today, these teachers right here can attest to it. They've been in the trenches, they've experienced the hard work, the good, the bad, the ugly, and it's always best to hear from educators. And next week, we have an entire panel with administrators and teachers where we're going to further this conversation about science- based instruction and making or bringing Science of Reading to your classroom using Amplify CKLA high quality instructional materials. We're excited about that.

Karen Venditti: Meagan, I just have to interrupt you. I have to say these ladies have set the bar pretty high though. We've got four folks next week. I'm excited. I know they're going to be phenomenal as well, but you've set the bar high and I just want-

Jodi McGraw: Sorry.

Karen Venditti: Yeah. I hope you're reading the chat because people are really impressed and they say your students are lucky to have you, and I 100% agree. And I'm sure we would find that out by talking to them as well.

MIchelle Arnett: Well, we're lucky to have them and we're lucky to be in the district that we are. I'm very thankful. Thank you for having us.

Jodi McGraw: We're going to have to go the kids.

MIchelle Arnett: crosstalk so we got to go get the kids.

Meagan Molbert: Yes. You guys have a great afternoon and thank you so much for your commitment and participation. And as you mentioned, Karen, they have set the bar really high. We may just be reaching out to you guys later just to chat, just to further the conversation, but also, we want-

MIchelle Arnett: Anytime.

Meagan Molbert: Yes, for sure. Have a good one, ladies. Thank you.

MIchelle Arnett: Thank you.

Jodi McGraw: Thank you.

Meagan Molbert: One thing we do want to make sure we use this opportunity to do is invite you to Reading Reimagined, which is our virtual summit on Thursday. We're going to be diving into personalized learning that's grounded in science. We have guest speakers, Maria Murray from The Reading League and also Tracy Weeden from Neuhaus Education Center. So lots of great professional learning to come. If you can't join us live, sign up, you'll receive the recording.

Karen Venditti: And definitely come to our Science of Reading: The Podcast. Our fearless leader, Susan Lambert has guest after guest that get better and better each time she interviews. And so, if you're looking for more and wanting to learn more, the Science of Reading Podcast, which is not about CKLA or Amplify curriculum, it's about the Science of Reading. So tune in for that as well.

Meagan Molbert: Yes, absolutely. And also, join our Facebook page. We know we have gone over time today and there are still questions in the Q and A box that have not been answered. We want to make sure that we're going to reach out to you guys and get those questions answered. But what a great session, what a great conversation. You guys are inspiring that, you were committed to learning, and doing what's best for your kiddos. And Karen, I don't know if want to add to that, but thank you. Thanks a lot.

Karen Venditti: Well, thank you, Meagan. Thank you, attendees. We really appreciate it. And we do apologize that we didn't get to every question. Some of them were so specific. It was a little bit more challenging to answer live, but we definitely want to provide you with answers so please reach out. Meagan shared the learning more about CKLA. And we definitely love to come chat with you at your school, preferably at your school, not via a Zoom webinar. So have a great rest of your afternoon. Thank you so much. We look forward to you joining us next week for the panel.

Meagan Molbert: Yeah. And you know what, Madigan actually put the panel link, the registration for that webinar in the chat. We can't wait to see you guys on the 18th and hopefully on the 13th as well.

Karen Venditti: That's right. We'll see you.

Meagan Molbert: Thank you, guys. Have a great afternoon.

Karen Venditti: Have a great day, everyone.

Meagan Molbert: Bye.


Learn about the top-rated program on EdReports, Amplify CKLA Skills, including how to use it as a standalone and how to integrate it into the curriculum you already have. You’ll also hear about one teacher’s experience and how it transformed her students’ reading journey.


“We talk about how in the brain and our brain’s is not naturally being wired to read. What we’re doing is developing those pathways, that switchboard that enables reading, that connects the vision center to the speech center.”

“… to have a program that is really going to make you a reading teacher and level the playing field.”

“We want to ensure that kiddos are receiving the same high quality instruction in every classroom within our building, and that is exactly what CKLA does and provide reassurance on.”