Summer Reading Program


The Northeastern University Speech-Language and Hearing Center is offering a new summer reading program entitled The Word Detectives. Word Detectives provides small group instruction for students entering 2nd – 4th 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

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.

In between their instructional sessions, students 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 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.

Program Dates: July 5–27, 2018 | Monday-Friday 9:00am-1:00pm

Program Fee: $1,850

Applications: Currently accepting applications! 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.

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 or 4th 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.

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.


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 Dr. Melissa Orkin, Program Director.

Elyssa Brand

Elyssa Brand

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

Application Process

The summer reading program is full. Please check back in early 2019 for next year’s program application information.

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 Dr. Melissa Orkin.

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