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Student List Demonstration Video with 2nd Grade Student
The above video shows the ReadingKEY Student List being used with a 7 year old girl with severe learning disabilties. The student was labeled a "non-reader" by her teachers in Miami, Florida. What's exiciting about this video is the fact that, although it took her 14 minutes, she was still able to successfully learn the list words. Students with mild disabilities can typically learn a Student List in about 5 minutes. Children with moderate disabilities typically require up to 8 minutes and children with severe reading disabiities may require 8-15 minutes to master the Student List words. Retention is nearly 100% for all students when tested the following morning.

Questions & Answers - Perfect Summer Program

What is the Student List?

The Student List is a special learn-to-read technique that will enable your student to learn essential grade level reading words at a dramatically faster pace. It is designed to be used in a "one-on-one" tutoring setting, although it can be used with 2 or even 3 students simultaneously, but with slightly less efficiency. We also have a "Classroom List" which contains larger letters and is designed to be used with an entire class of 20-30 students.

How much progress can I make?
Practically all students using the Student List will advance one year in reading ability in 30 days with 15-20 minutes of daily instruction (for Grade 1 content). Grades 2 and higher typically require 60 days of 20-30 minute daily instruction for achieving 1 year advancement in reading ability. This makes it the perfect summer program for parents (or grandparents) to improve any child's reading ability quickly!

1 year progress in 30-60 Days - How is that possible?
ReadingKEY was developed under the same conclusions as stated by No Child Left Behind - That is... Word recognition must be achieved before we can expect a child to comprehend what is read in a sentence or paragraph. Word recognition is defined as being able to read a word easily without hesitation (also called fluency). During the development stage of ReadingKEY, we used a special computer program to literally count how many times each word appeared in popular grade level school textbooks by Houghton-Mifflin, Scholastic, and Accelerated Reader. This gave us a master list of over 4,000 words sequenced in order from most-common to least-common. For example, the word "the" is the most common word in early elementary reading material and occurs in approximately one out of every 15 words. The word "to" is also very common. Therefore, it makes sense to learn the words "the" and "to" before learning less common words such as "porcupine." This is the underlying logic of ReadingKEY. The next question to answer was how many of these words should a student learn to be reading at any specific grade level. After extensive research on this topic, we found that Grade 1 students must learn approximately 400 words by the end of the school year to score in the top 25% of all 1st Grade students across the country. Grade 2 students need to learn the next most-common 800 words and Grade 3 students must learn next most-common 700 words after that. Words for Grades 1, 2 and 3 can be learned quickly because we only need to spend time teaching the student to say (read) the word. This is because all words in the lists (except for some at the end of Grade 3) are what we call the "common conversational words." These are words the student uses when talking to their friends, teachers, parents, etc. Because the meaning of these words is already understood (for English speaking students), to increase efficiency, we don't need to spend time practicing word meaning while doing the Student List. Reading vocabulary words for Grades 4, 5 and 6, however, are often more textbook oriented words (for example, the word "rapid" rather than "quick"). Because of this increase in complexity, students only need to master between 500 and 700 words per year to score in the top 25%. To help learn the meaning of these higher level words, we do provide a high quality follow-up worksheet activitity that can be given to the student. The words in this activity parallel the same list words and give practice with word definitions, sentence writing, etc.

Why teach using lists of only 5-7 words?
You'll notice that our Student Lists contain 5 words per list for Grade 1 and 7 words per list for Grades 2 and 3. These numbers were decided upon after months of observation and testing. The problem with learning to read by simply reading from a book is that it is extremely inefficient. While it exposes a student to many random words, it does not provide the concentrated exposure necessary to effectively transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. We overcome this issue by teaching words in small groups. Only when the student has demonstrated the ability to read all 5-7 words easily (about 3-4 seconds per list), do we then advance to a new list of words. The effectiveness of this process can be seen when testing your student in 24 hours. On their first attempt at reading the words the following morning, they will typically read all words correct - but a little slower than their fastest time from the previous day. However, on their second and third attempt, your student will typically improve their fluency time by up to one second, thereby, demonstrating the effectiveness of these methods and the memory forming centers of the brain during the previous night's sleep!

What are the STEPS used in each Student List?
To key to the success of this process is the use of small incremental steps. Each STEP teaches only a small amount of information, with each new STEP using what was learned from the previous STEP.
The four STEPS used to teach the list words includes:
1) Teach the color-coded vowel sound in each word.
2) Read only up to the vowel sound in each word.
3) Add the final sounds and read each word slowly.
4) Use a stopwatch to achieve fluency of the list words.
These steps are explained in greater detail at top right.

Which students should use the Student List?
Any student from mentally-challenged to Gifted, can benefit from the Student List strategies. However, you will fiind it to be a lifesaver for improving reading skills in students who are reading one or more years below grade level, as these students have demonstrated an inability to learn with conventional methods and need to be trying a different approach.
For example, we have worked with many students in Grades 3, 4 or 5 who are reading at a beginning 1st Grade Level who easily advance to a beginning 2nd Grade Level in 30-60 days. Think about this for a moment... Students who previously advanced only 1/3rd of a year in during 1 school year time are now advancing 1 year in just 30-60 days!

Shouldn't we be reading books to improve reading ability?
Of course, reading a book is an excellent way to improve reading ability and one we highly recommend. However, as mentioned earlier, learning to read only from books is not the most efficient approach. Pushing lower performing students into reading books before they have the necessary skills will result in elevated frustration, lack of self-esteem and a "dislike" for the reading process. To avoid this problem entirely, we recommend that students first learn the 150 "most-common" words before spending extended time reading from a book. This can be accomplished in just a few weeks using the Student List strategies and results with providing the basic word recognition skills needed for greater fluency while also providing the skills needed to "decode" (figure-out) unknown reading words. This not only reasults in greater success, but also instills a positive attitude and "enjoyment" for the reading process.

How much time should I spend on the Student List?
20-30 minutes per day typically results in one year improvement in reading ability in 30 days for Grade 1 and in 60 days for Grades 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Instead of telling your student that they will be working for 30 minutes, we've found it is much better to tell your student that they are going to work until we complete 3 Lists - 4 Lists - 5 Lists - etc. This not only makes it easy for the student to understand what is expected, but allows you to follow a sequence to fulfill your plan. For example for Grade 2 and higher:

Completing one Student List per day = one year gain in reading ability in one school year (9 months).

2 Lists per day = 2 year's advancement in one school year

3 Lists per day = 3 year's advancement in one school year, etc

Therefore, if you want your student to advance 1 year over the 3 months of summer (1/3rd of a school year), you need to complete 3 lists per day for Monday thru Friday (15 per week).

Details of each step used in the Student List can be seen in the column above right.

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Below shows the 4 "STEPS" used to teach the list words as described in the video. So teachers can always know the correct steps, they are also shown at the top of each Student List. Click the video at left to watch the Student List being used with a 2nd Grade student. Follow along with the STEPS described below. To view a specific step you can scroll through the video timeline to the minutes and seconds shown below each STEP title.

Begins at :23 (23 seconds)
The first step is to simply teach the common vowel sound used in all list words. Each word has the same vowel sound which gives the repetition needed to accelerate learning of the vowel sound. Vowel sounds are color-coded for easy identification. Short vowels are red - long vowels are blue and other advanced vowel sounds are green (ar - er - ir - u r- oo - ou - oi, etc.). If you don't know the vowel sounds, no problem, go to our ReadingKEY Weekly page and click the link at the top above the list you are doing.

Begins at :38 (38 seconds)
In this next step, you show students how to read up to the colored vowel sound in each word. For example, if the word is "cat" - you want your student to make the sound of "c" and "a" together (cah). This gives students a logical strategy that can be used when attempting to read any unknown word for the rest of their lives! The vowel sound in each word is color-code which shows them visually where to stop in this step. By the way - This also gives them a strategy for also spellilng any unknown word! (Spell to the vowel sound). When your student can do this from top to bottom on the list with no mistakes, you then advance to STEP 3. If a mistake is made, the student must start again from the top - No Exceptions!

Begins at 3:30 (3 minutes - 30 seconds)
Now that your student can read up to the vowel sound - we now want them to add the final consonant sounds to "figure-out" (read) the word. For example, if the word was "JUMP" - you would say, "OK, we know that "ju" says "juh" - but what sound does "mp" make? After getting the correct answer from your student you say, "Good, so, if "ju" says "juh" and "mp" says "mmmp" - what is the word?" You then repeat this process with each word. When your student can read all list words from top to bottom with no mistakes, you then advance to STEP 4.

Begins at 10:05 (10 minutes - 5 seconds)
At this point, your student has shown the ability to read all list words correctly, however, our goal now is to have the student say the entire list in under 3 seconds (1/2 to 3/4 second per word). This is done by using a stopwatch (from your cellphone, wristwatch, etc.) and one of the bar graphs at the lower right of the page. Bar graphs are labeled "L" and "R." Use the L bar graph to time your student on the saying the left column of words and the R bar graph to time your student on the right column of words. There are several L and R bar graphs which can be used with other students or with the same student at a later period (as in a Review a month later). Each bar graph is divided into seconds and then tenths of a second as the time gets faster. If your student says the list words in 4.8 seconds, you will place an X inside the 4.8 second box. You'll also notice that the Left column of words contain the colored vowel sound, while the Right column does not have the colored vowel sound helper and are also displays the words in a different order.


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