Teaching At-Risk & Struggling Children to Learn to Read

What have teachers who have taken SPY 427/627 said about it?

…(SPY 427/627) was one of the first courses I have taken that I feel I gained valuable knowledge and skills that are applicable in the classroom versus just gaining knowledge and wondering how I can apply it in a classroom setting. The class was well organized, and the materials were great sources of information. I am even keeping the textbooks for future reference. The instructor was knowledgeable and passionate about literacy and direct instruction. I would recommend this class to future students!
-First grade teacher, Dayton Elementary, general and special education master’s degree candidate.
I loved the course Multi-Tiered Reading Instruction! I feel as though this course has been one of the most useful courses thus far. Throughout the course, we were provided with numerous relevant and useful resources that we could use immediately. I was able to learn and apply a direct instruction reading program with students, and I was able to use specific phonics, fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension lessons from templates provided in the course. On several occasions, I actually used my adapted lessons in instructional groups with students. I have also been able to begin to implement progress monitoring that I learned within this course.
-Special education ed tech, special education master’s degree candidate.


SPY 427 is a critical course to take. I’ve suggested this course to every future educator, regardless if one is special ed major or not. The course teaches you how to teach someone to read. While it sounds like a quite simple task, it’s actually quite impossible without some strategy and program. This class teaches phonetics, strategies, and teaches you how to write lesson plans for the different aspects of learning to read.
-Undergraduate teacher ed student, spring 2018. Admitted to a master’s program in Special Education
This class helped me to be a more well-rounded educator. I think what I took most from this class was how many components go into reading. As someone who learned to read easily, it is easy to forget how complex a skill it actually is. I certainly will take my work from this class with me…
-Special education teacher at Baxter Academy.


…This course gave me skills and knowledge that I applied to my classroom and teaching. I learned how important early interventions are when teaching reading. I gained excellent skills in developing lesson plans that I was able to use in my classroom to teach decoding, fluency, and comprehension. This class also gave me tools and skill development to assess students reading needs, how to provide an intervention for a targeted skill and how to progress monitor. The course was helpful in working with students K-12, and the course was designed to develop skills for teachers to work with both special education students or any students with reading deficits that could benefit from support.
-A Maine high school English teacher, special education master’s student.
Using systematic, explicit methods from this model (direct instruction) has allowed me to unlock the code for so many of my students and, because of it, they are becoming readers.  I wish that I had learned this many years ago.  There are so many teachers like me who graduated with an elementary or special education degree who did not know how to effectively teach reading.  It would be my wish that all teachers take this class either in their undergraduate programs or graduate work for literacy, special education, or educational leadership.

-Laurie Flannery, a Maine first-grade teacher
OH MY GOODNESS! I was in tears today.  IT WORKS!!!  MY STRUGGLING READERS ARE GETTING IT.  I have been doing the Corrective Reading A lessons with them and the lessons from Reading Sourcebook.  We have worked SO HARD on sounding it out, say it fast.  Now they are doing this on their own.  Wow!  I can’t tell you how amazing this is.  Thank you.  Thank you.

-A Maine elementary teacher who has been in the field for twenty years
One thing that is becoming very clear through all the readings and your teaching is the need for systematic and explicit instruction for ALL kiddos, not just our tangled students.  In my Title 1 role, I have incorporated more of a guided reading philosophy using leveled books (LLI) which has a progression for teaching skills, but I do not think it is explicit enough for many of my students.  I feel I need to adopt more of my special ed routines and materials (SPIRE, DI, etc.) with these students who are not breaking the code readily (I see how it follows them into 3rd and 4th grade).  I teach in a K-4 building, and many students continue to struggle with decoding and fluency who are not eligible for special education services.  We do not have a core program so our teaching staff struggles with both a scope and sequence as well as delivery in an explicit and direct way.

-Katy McCormac, a Maine Title 1 teacher in a K-4 elementary school
SPY 627 Multi-Tier Reading Interventions for General and Special Education is packed with information on implementing multi-tiered instruction in reading. The course is very comprehensive, linking the National Reading Panel Report and instructional methods in each of the five areas of reading. As an RTI interventionist servicing students in kindergarten through grade 2, I find I am using what I learned in this course daily in my practice with students. It has helped me target research-based interventions for my young students in the areas of phonemic awareness, alphabetics, and fluency. I highly recommend this course.

-Andrea Frenz, Topsham, ME
With the generous support of the Reading Matters to Maine scholarship, we were able to take SPY 627 as a group last spring. The course was a valuable professional development opportunity, providing us with up-to-date methods in literacy instruction. The course focused on the importance of providing a balanced literacy program, which includes all five pillars of reading. It also gave us a new understanding of the importance of systematic and explicit literacy instruction for our struggling learners. By taking the course as a group, we were able to support one another in our new learning and discuss how we might makes changes at our school. It was much easier to bring back the information to our colleagues and bring changes to our instructional methods. We are grateful we had the opportunity to take SPY 627 and feel all teachers can benefit from this course.

-Karen Dow, Laura Ellis, Kim Huchel, Amy Kieran, Julie Nickerson, Cape Elizabeth, ME

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