Word Detectives Summer Reading Program

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Applications closed for Summer 2020’s Virtual Camp. Check back in January 2021 for next summer’s information.

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Overview

The Northeastern University Speech-Language and Hearing Center will offers a summer reading program entitled Word Detectives. Word Detectives provides small group instruction for students entering 2nd – 7th grade who are reading below grade level. The program offers high-quality remedial instruction and content engagement to ensure reading skills remain intact over the critical out of school months.

Program Schedule & Details

For Foundational and Rising Readers, the Word Detectives program integrates specialized reading instruction with daily, engaging enrichment activities. Following registration, a review of each student’s records and a complete assessment are conducted to formulate a reading profile. Scores from assessments are used to create specialized instructional groups of similar skill profiles.

During the half-day program, children participate in two instructional sessions designed to meet their specific learning needs. All students receive one hour of small group instruction in the RAVE-O program to develop their fluency skills and one hour of instruction in an evidence-based explicit phonics program such as Wilson or Orton Gillingham. Based on their learning profile, students may also receive explicit instruction in sight word recognition, reading comprehension, and/or support with written expression.

For Transitional Readers/Writers, two instructional sessions providing specialized and evidence-based instruction in spelling and written expression are blended with engaging activities. Students’ records are reviewed and assessment results are utilized to determine specific needs and types of instruction, and this information guides the formulation of learning groups of similar profiles. Children participate in two tailored instructional blocks, where they will receive both individual and small group instruction and feedback.

All learners will enjoy a snack, activity break, and engaging enrichment activities like art projects, drumming lessons, and science experiments.

Summer Reading Program Daily Schedule
9:00-10:30am First Instructional Session
10:30-11:30am Snack & Activity Break
11:30-12:30pm Second Instructional Session
12:30-1:00pm Lunch

* Early drop off beginning at 8am is available for an additional fee of $12/day.

As part of participation, families will receive a progress report detailing the nature of their child’s reading/spelling/writing profile and the type of instruction delivered over the course of the program. Parents are also invited to meet with their child’s teachers during the course of the program to discuss progress and address any concerns about reading development.

DATES: TBD Summer 2021

Applications: Will be available in early 2021. Families are asked to send in a completed application, accompanying teacher recommendation letter, and copies of educational assessments and/or Individualized Education plans from the last two years for consideration. Tuition is due to guarantee placement in the program.

My son had so much confidence in himself as a learner after attending the Word Detectives program in the summer of 2019. The teaching approach was perfect for him and he retained more of the tools for reading than he had with other programs. He noticed the difference himself and he carried his Word Detectives confidence with him back to school in the fall. Another terrific part of Word Detectives: my son never complained about going! He loved the teachers and enjoyed the other students. He had a lot of fun and was actually sad when Word Detectives came to an end. I highly recommend!

— Mary, 2019 Word Detectives Parent

Curriculum Instruction

The Word Detectives program offers a multi-dimensional approach to reading instruction that focuses on development of skills essential to learning as well as reading. The program incorporates practices proven essential to effective summer instruction including small class sizes, use of evidence-based instruction, parental involvement, and ongoing progress monitoring. In addition, the program embeds research-based motivational strategies, designed to encourage persistence, engagement, and independent learning into every aspect of instruction. Along these lines, we have formulated general instructional plans and goals for the different types of students who participate in our program.

  • Foundational Readers
    These readers are students entering the 2nd or 3rd grade with emerging phonics and sight word abilities. The goal of summer instruction for these students is to continue building foundational skills including short and long vowel, consonant blends, and sight word knowledge. Instruction will include the RAVE-O program paired with a systematic phonological program (such as Orton Gillingham or Wilson Reading). Together these programs will emphasize decoding skills, reading fluency, comprehension, and spelling. Students will also receive explicit instruction in sight word recognition using the multi-sensory Sight Words You Can See Program, and guided reading instruction using best practices in the field.
  • Rising Readers
    These readers are students entering 3rd through 6th grade with emerging foundational phonics, sight word, fluency, and comprehension abilities. The goal of summer instruction for these students is to continue developing their foundational knowledge while engaging their interests with developmentally appropriate texts. Instruction will include the RAVE-O program paired with a systematic phonological program (such as Orton Gillingham or Wilson Reading), Sight Words You Can See to consolidate sight word recognition, and best practices from guided reading instruction. Together these programs will emphasize decoding skills, reading fluency, comprehension and spelling. Assistive technology will also be utilized to support students with their reading and writing assignments.
  • Transitional Readers/Writers
    These readers are students entering 3rd through 7th grade whose reading difficulties have been largely remediated. Reading skills may be at or above grade level, but persistent difficulties with spelling and/or written expression may remain. The goal of summer instruction for these students is to continue developing their higher-level reading comprehension skills while engaging them in interesting literacy projects that require them to respond in writing. Instruction will include a systematic multi-sensory phonics program (such as Wilson Reading or Just Words) with a focus on applying developed phonics skills to spelling. This will be coupled with multi-sensory writing instruction (using programs such as Framing Your Thoughts, Landmark Writing Program, or Empower). Assistive technology will also be utilized to support students with their reading and writing assignments.

Engagement & Self-Regulation

In an effort to engage reluctant students in summer instruction, many programs employ prizes as incentives for participation. Yet, there is a significant body of research that indicates that incentives are not only damaging to students’ internal motivation to learn, but also negatively impact cognitive processing.

Rather than relying on incentives, the Northeastern Word Detectives Program integrates research-based motivational strategies designed to encourage persistence, engagement, and independent learning. Our motivational strategies are centered around four themes – autonomy, belonging, competence, and meaning. Many of the academic activities that reinforce these themes are borrowed from the Responsive Classroom program.

Autonomy. Students are offered autonomy throughout the program from choices in their texts to choices in their assignments. Generally speaking, children are provided with the freedom necessary to develop a sense of ownership over their learning experience.

Belonging. Teachers work with each instructional group to build a sense of community. Through the construction of a class constitution, team building exercises, and peer to peer compliments, students and teachers create an environment where everyone feels important, appreciated, and connected.

Competence. The Word Detectives Program seeks to develop students’ feelings of competence, not only by providing them with literacy activities in which they can experience success, but also providing them for the tools necessary for coping with challenges.

Meaning. Exercises are woven into daily lessons to insure that students understand the meaning of the most basic tasks in term of their larger hopes and dreams.

By offering students autonomy in their skill-building, facilitating a community of learners, and emphasizing intra-individual growth, our program will not only improve literacy skills, but also significantly reduce reading-related task avoidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the goals of the Word Detectives Summer Program?

Our aim is to increase participants’ reading and spelling skills. Particularly, we seek to prevent summer regression in academic skills, while fostering feelings of autonomy, belonging, competence, and meaning. We want to increase students’ motivation to engage in challenging tasks, while working collaboratively and having fun!

2. What sets us apart from other summer reading programs?

In addition to the use of evidence-based reading interventions such as the Wilson Reading System and RAVE-O, our program embeds research based motivational strategies, designed to encourage persistence, engagement, tolerance for challenging tasks, and independent learning. Our motivational strategies are centered around four themes – autonomy, belonging, competence, and meaning. Many of the academic activities that reinforce these themes are borrowed from the Responsive Classroom program. To learn more about the motivational strategies we implement, please see this article that Dr. Melissa Orkin and her team published regarding the motivational strategies that we use within our instruction.

3. Is my child a fit for Word Detectives? How does the application process work?

Children attend our program for a variety of reasons. Some are diagnosed with formal learning disabilities, while others are just “behind” compared to their peers. Our application process is designed to ensure that the program is a “good fit” for your child’s learning needs. Applications and supporting material are reviewed by the Program Director. Parents and teachers are often contacted to clarify the family’s educational goals, as well as the child’s learning history and developmental profile.

In general, our program is appropriate for students of average or above average intellectual potential that have been diagnosed with a language-based learning disability, reading disorder, or are under- achieving in reading. Our program is not appropriate for students with primary emotional or behavioral difficulties. Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis with the first review of applications occurring in mid-March.

4. What is a typical day like?

Please see the above schedule section for basic information about a typical day. The content of instructional blocks will be dictated by the needs of your child’s group. For example, our Foundational Readers will spend more time on phonological awareness, sight words and early phonics skills, while our more advanced readers may spend more time reading trade books and focusing on written expression. All groups will include research-based intervention using an Orton-Gillingham based program, as well as an intervention focused on increasing reading fluency. Children will also participate in an enrichment block, where they will engage in co-curricular activities around a theme. These activities may include science, group games, sports, art, or walking field trips. Read this article published in the Northeastern News during the summer of 2019 to gain a glimpse into our classrooms.

Our camp day runs from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, with early drop off available at 8:00am for an extra fee. Camp will run four days a week (Monday-Thursday) from July 6th to July 30th. Pre- and post- assessment sessions will be scheduled before and after the program.

5. When will I see my child’s assessment results?

Following registration, each student will be scheduled to visit the Center to complete a pre-program assessment. Scores from the pre-assessments are used, along with a review of the student’s application materials, to create well-balanced instructional groupings of students with similar skill profiles. At the end of the program, we will give each child a limited battery of post-assessments. Families will receive their child’s pre/post assessment results following the conclusion of the program. These results will be presented within a progress report detailing the nature of their child’s profile, type of instruction delivered over the course of the program, and some suggested recommendations for the school year.

6. How often will staff communicate with me during the summer program?

Families will receive a weekly newsletter that contains relevant parent resources, photos of the children in action, and classroom-specific information about the content that has been covered.
In addition, during the third week of the program, we will reach out to invite any families who are interested in meeting with the head teachers and staff to discuss their child’s progress. Finally, we encourage you to email the program directors and/or your child’s head teacher if you have any questions during the program.

7. How much progress can I expect my child to make?

We emphasize to families that our program is only 16 days long and we are realistic about the types of gains we can expect students to make in such a short period of time. Our ultimate goal is to prevent regression in skills, while fostering the potential for growth in foundational literacy skills. We measure success in a variety of ways. Students are given a limited number of standardized post-assessments at the end of the program. Most of the students make progress on one or more measures of word reading, fluency, or comprehension.

However, we also encourage families to notice and celebrate other, less measurable areas of growth, such as a greater awareness of environmental print (signs, labels, instructions), increased confidence as a reader, increased willingness to read or write independently, and/or greater flexibility in your child’s approach to challenges and mistake-making. Sometimes families report to us that although their child’s scores did not increase dramatically, their child had an easier transition to the new school year or began to pick up skills with greater speed in the fall. In our opinion, these changes are all important markers of growth.

Staff

Our teaching staff is comprised of professional educators with advanced training and expertise in their respective areas of specialty. Each reading group will be instructed by team of professionals that include an educator with a master’s degree and several years of experience employing multi-sensory techniques with struggling readers, and a Speech-Language Pathologist. Assistant teachers are graduate students from Northeastern University who are pursuing master’s degrees in speech-language pathology. The small student to teacher ratio ensures that instruction capitalizes on student strengths and addresses student weaknesses. Parents have the opportunity to meet with their child’s head teachers midway through the program to discuss progress and concerns. At the end of the program, all parents receive a score report detailing their child’s profile as it pertains to processing oral and written language.

If you are interested in teaching in our summer reading program, please contact Sarah Young-Hong, Clinic Director.

Elyssa Brand

Elyssa Brand
Ed.M.

Melissa Orkin

Melissa Orkin
Ph.D. Child Development

Kathleen Reilly

Kathleen Reilly
M.S. CCC-SLP; M.A. Applied Linguistics

Sarah Young-Hong, MA, CCC-SLP

Sarah Young-Hong
M.A., CCC-SLP

Rebecca Headshot New

Rebecca Brand
Ed.M.

Application Process

Children attend our program for a variety of reasons. Some are diagnosed with formal learning disabilities, while others are just “behind” compared to their peers. Our application process is designed to ensure that the program is a “good fit” for your child’s learning needs. Applications and supporting material are reviewed by the Program Director. Parents and teachers are often contacted to clarify the family’s educational goals, and the child’s learning history and developmental profile.

In general, our program is appropriate for students of average or above average intellectual potential that have been diagnosed with a language-based learning disability, reading disorder, or are under-achieving in reading. Our program is not appropriate for students with primary emotional or behavioral difficulties.

Questions about the program? Please contact Sarah Young-Hong.

Applications closed for 2020.

Please fax (617-373-8756) or mail the application form below, along with the teacher recommendation & any prior evaluation materials to:

Northeastern University
Speech and Language Center
30 Leon Street
Boston, MA 02115
Attn: Word Detectives Program