Reading Specialist: Grades: K1- 4th
In keeping with the school’s mission to foster strong academics and a culture based on the teachings of the Catholic faith, the duties of the reading specialist (above grades) at Saint Peter School in Cambridge, Mass. are to help students overcome their reading difficulties or challenge the ones that read above their grade levels. After the teachers target the students based on their reading difficulties, the reading specialist selects the appropriate materials, implements corrective measures and new learning methods. The reading specialist works with students on decoding skills, fluency and reading comprehension. The reading specialist might start by slowing down the pace of what’s being taught in the classroom to help reinforce important skills for students who need extra practice. For the students who read above grade level, the reading specialist challenges them with higher reading levels and reading comprehension is emphasized. (For example, a kindergarten may read at a second grade level but lacks comprehension).
At Saint Peter, the reading specialist will confer with the teachers about the student’s progress or lack of and come up with strategies to help or challenge. The reading specialist pulls the students from their classroom for specialized and individualized instructions. Most times, the groups are small but the students are at about the same reading level.
In order to promote congruence, collaboration and communication between classroom teachers and the reading specialist, the instruction provided by the reading specialist may at times, take place in the classroom. This approach stresses the importance of a coordinated instructional approach.
Saint Peter curriculum plan for the reading specialist is closely followed. She utilizes the following programs to assist the students: scholastic DRA to assess and “Fundation without tears”.
The reading specialist differentiates instruction by utilizing a variety of materials to reach or challenge the students. The reading specialist has knowledge of assessment and diagnosis that is vital for developing, implementing, and evaluating the literacy program. She also designs instruction for small groups or individual students. The reading specialist can assess the reading strengths and needs of students and provide that information to classroom teachers; for example when a group should move from one level of reading to a higher one.
At Saint Peter, the reading specialist uses multi-sensory instructions in the primary grades. In addition to books, there are charts, games, cards, globes, maps and other tools in her room to reinforce phonemic awareness, reading comprehension strategies and other mechanics such as grade and level appropriate videos to accompany the lessons. The reading specialist will work on projects such as the discovery of different countries, the students’ favorite animals and our national parks. The students are encouraged to do research in collaboration and delegate tasks among their groups. At the end of their projects, the students are taught how to present their discoveries by paying attention to details, making eye contact and becoming an expert on the topic studied.