Finding something that works

 I spent numerous hours planning and working with a student one-on-one this year who had some very special circumstances. Due to his special circumstances, he couldn't read, didn't know the letter names or sounds, and found school to be extremely frustrating (rightfully so) and would just shut down. We tried numerous strategies to help him learn the building blocks to reading but found that many of our strategies would work for a week or so, and then his participation would just disappear and the refusal to do work would increase. One of the last things I tried with him was to develop a personal reader. I did for numerous reasons and will explain these reasons as I explain the parts associated with this reader. I've blocked out personal information.
This is the cover of the personal reader.  I printed off a blank chart and put it in the clear cover. I then used a blank transparency sheet and would write the schedule for our meeting and his independent jobs. Each day I would wash it off and re-write it for our next meeting. This way, he knew exactly what we needed to get through at the beginning of our meeting and knew what his jobs would be. 
This is the front inside cover. This is where all his sight words, content words, and sorts would be. I just clipped them onto the folder flaps and labeled them to keep it organized for him. Our content words were words from our story. I put a clear zipper pocket to store older sorts and sight words for continued practiced.

I included sound boards into the front. I had blends, vowels, and beginning consonants. When we began studying a new sound, I would highlight it in the sound board. This way, he could more easily identify the sounds we had studied. I had lined paper behind the sound boards and would have him try to do some comprehension work through answering questions, drawing pictures, etc. This is also where he would self-reflect on his participation for the day and record that.
I wanted to incorporate some fluency work to identify sight words that my student was still struggling with. I placed a fluency reading (this was a 1st grade level) into a plastic sleeve and wrote down 3 different days that we would do this same reading. I would record his number correct and a percentage and he would select 2 words that he wanted to focus on and improve for next time. I didn't know how well this would go, but he often would elect to do this one first to see if he could get more words correct each time and every time we did it, I can happily say he did! 

This is part 1 of the back cover of the folder. In the front pocket, I put the book that we are reading together during our guided reading time.
This is part 2 of the back cover of the folder. In the back pocket, I put the books that he selected to read during his independent time.

I feel like I had the most success with this strategy. Was it perfect each time? By no means! But I feel like he participated the most during it, largely because he had some choice and saw improvement in his work.  

I'm not sure how well this would work for a whole class, but I think if there were a group of students either struggling with getting through guided reading time or using their independent time wisely, it would help keep them stay on task and organized and have all their resources in one place, just for them. 


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