It's been six weeks of doing Great Leaps with my nephew and it's been pretty amazing! He has almost doubled his reading speed for the first time through new stories. He is reading with expression and understanding what he is reading. Those are the obvious changes.
The other changes are pretty impressive as well-- even more impressive in some ways. He is not only reading better but gaining skills that will help him continue to read better. He is learning to focus in on the places that give him a hard time. For example, we spent a very long amount of time on one probe in the Phrases section-- almost two weeks and I had actually spoken to Ken for about half an hour on what I could do to help Devonté get through it. The page had 22 words that had 'f's in them -- of, off and for are incredibly hard for Devonté to distinguish from each other and that's a whole lot of places to stumble when one error means you do it again the next day. D is sensitive and he felt like he was never going to get it. He rode it out though. I used some of the suggestions Ken had, kept hacking away at it, and did not settle for part way. We spent maybe and extra minute or so a day working on some specific ways to help him beat that page and you know what? Not only did he do it (and that was a beautiful day right there!) but now, two weeks and several probes ahead in each section, when he sees those words and others that he struggles with he is very deliberate and focused with them. He reads better because of that stubborn probe. He is more focused because of it. He is less sensitive about making mistakes because he is understanding what I said from the beginning, that mistakes are opportunities to learn. He is growing not only in his reading but in his attitude about reading and it is beautiful to see! Walked in to do Great Leaps with him the other day and there were two school library books on the table. They were chapter books and definitely not low level readers at that. I asked him about them and they were not assigned by the school but picked out by him!
This is not me bragging on my own ability here-- I did not write this stuff, not my program.... This is me bragging on my nephew (who, when I arrived at the park, told his friends at the park that he'd be back in a few minutes because he had something to do and came happily to a bench to work with me today!) and me bragging on the program-- I am truly blessed to be tutoring with Great Leaps!
By Lisa Skisland