+ Give your Struggling Readers a “Tool Box”

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At Marburn Academy, Columbus Ohio’s premier school for children with learning challenges, new readers and spellers are given a “Tool Box” to use when they have difficulty remembering what to do.

The Goal is Independence

Educators at Marburn have discovered over the years that skills learned in isolation and employed only upon request never become automatic or independently available. 

The “Tool Box” is a three ring binder with the student’s name on it. The binder is intended to be a resource made by/with the students for their very own use.

 Students are given the binder and a set of tab dividers.

Tabs will read

  1. Letters/Sounds
  2. Syllables
  3. Division Patterns
  4. Spelling Rules
  5. Affixes/Prefixes

Depending on the ability of the child, either he or you will write the tabs.

  • Whenever you introduce a new concept, give the students a handout or guided notes to put in the notebook in the proper section.  Have the students write the information if they write comfortably and legibly, but if not, you provide it.  The pages need to be readable.
  • Keep a table of contents in the book, so you know what’s been inserted.
  • “Process” posters can be placed in the front of the binder.  These are checklists: the steps used for multisensory spelling or proofreading their work, for example.
  • Refer the student to the Tool Box when he gives you a blank stare upon being asked to use a concept he’s already been taught.  This helps the child gain independence without punishing him for poor memory or inattention.  It also helps prevent a lazy “I don’t know” answer by making it easier to try and remember than to ask for help.
  • Tool Boxes should stay at school, but let parents have copies of the pages if they wish to have their own home copy ( a great idea, by the way).

  Tell students “Tools are not useful if they’re left in the box!”  Teach them to select the right tool for the  job and use it.

The goal is independence.  The process is meta-cognition: thinking about what they are doing and why they are doing it.  The Tool Box is one method.

source: Marburn Academy in Columbus Ohio.   www.marburnacademy.org  or  614-433-0822. 


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