At Lee Pesky Learning Center (LPLC), we focus on the foundational academic areas of reading, writing and math. Our interventions are individually designed to meet the specific learning needs of each client. LPLC’s interventions integrate the following three components:
- Understanding of the specific academic area (e.g. reading, writing, math);
- Knowledge of evidence-based instructional practices within each of these academic areas to include the use of instructional technology as appropriate; and
- Understanding of the individual with whom we are working.
Together, these components allow us to create intervention programs that are highly effective ““ more than 90% of our clients are able to meet or exceed grade level targets.
Our working models of each of the three academic areas are explained below.
Reading intervention is guided by our reading model, adapted from Perfetti (1999) and Moats (2012). Reading is a complex orchestration of multiple skills and processes. To make sense of printed letters, the orthographic processor allows us to take in the print and begin the process of decoding. The phonological processor supports the connection of sounds to the printed letters we see. The two processors working together are used to decipher the letters on the page into individual sounds, words and passages. When the word is recognized, we retrieve its meaning from our lexicon, or mental vocabulary. To facilitate comprehension, we also draw on our knowledge and understanding of semantics (meaning of words within context) and syntax (logical arrangement of words based on rules of grammar and language structure). Readers then develop a text representation (understanding of the text) independent of their background knowledge. Then, they will integrate their background knowledge to form inferences and situational models. Throughout the process self-regulation skills are used to orchestrate reading.
Through our evaluations, we gain an understanding of how the reading process is working and where it might be breaking down for a student so that we can intervene appropriately.
Math intervention is guided by our math model, which draws on the work of Brendefur (2012) and Dehaene (1992), who emphasize the following key conceptual dimensions of math that facilitate strong math ability. These include:
- Number sense – Number sense includes being able to recognize small quantities, usually up to 8 -10, without counting; counting items in a set and knowing that the final count word tells how many, discriminating between small quantities, comparing numerical magnitudes and transforming sets of five or less by adding or taking away items.
- Operations – Basic math operations include the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide single digit numbers to 10. Fluency with math operations is critical.
- Problem solving – Contextualized problems serve as a means for developing students’ general problem solving skills and can promote proficiency with whole-number arithmetic.
- Relational thinking is a precursor to the development of algebraic thinking. Relational thinking describes the thinking of students who use number and operation sense to reflect on mathematical expressions as objects rather than as arithmetic procedures to be carried out.
- Measurement tasks also support stronger proportional reasoning which in turn supports understanding of geometry, numeracy and data analysis (National Research Council, 2001).
- Spatial reasoning involves a) spatial visualization, or the ability to mentally manipulate, rotate, twist or invert pictures or objects; b) spatial orientation, or the ability to recognize an object even when the object’s orientation changes; and c) spatial relations, or the ability to recognize spatial patterns, to understand spatial hierarchies, and to imagine maps from verbal descriptions (Lee, 2005).
Solving math problems also draws on the processes related to reading, especially when students engage in word problem solving. Self-regulation skills are used throughout the process to integrate the numerous information processes and knowledge required to solve complex mathematical problems. Our math interventions target these six critical dimensions because they form the building blocks for all math learning.
Our writing framework draws on the work of Berninger et al (1996), Harris & Graham (1996) and Hayes (1980). In addition to using the processes needed for the reading process, writing requires the student to engage in the planning, translating, transcribing and revising process. Executive functions are needed to support a writer in switching attention among phases of the writing process. Students begin the process by generating ideas, setting goals, and organizing their thoughts into existing schema. Then, their ideas are translated into language ““ they generate context and text. The language representations in their working memory are transcribed into written symbols (orthographic representation) and then attend to revisions ““ which requires them to evaluate, detect and revise contextual issues.
Our writing interventions are focused to develop the unique aspect of writing with which they need support, with a primary focus on supporting their ability to generate understandable, cohesive text.