Success with Struggling Readers: The Benchmark School Approach

Success with Struggling Readers: The Benchmark School Approach

Success with Struggling Readers: The Benchmark School Approach

Success with Struggling Readers: The Benchmark School Approach

Synopsis

From the founder of the internationally known Benchmark School, this unique book presents a proven approach for helping struggling students become fully engaged readers, learners, thinkers, and problem solvers. Benchmark's research-based Interactive Learning Model is clearly explained and illustrated with teacher-friendly, how-to-do-it examples. Gaskins demonstrates ways to teach effective strategies for decoding words and understanding concepts, and to give students the skills to apply these strategies across the curriculum based on their individual cognitive styles and the specific demands of the task at hand. Comprehensive yet highly readable, the book includes quick-reference charts and reproducible figures and activities that can be used in all subject-matter areas, grades 1 through 8.

Excerpt

I first visited Benchmark School in the late 1980s. After one day I was convinced that, with respect to reading, it was the most evidence-based, innovative educational approach I had ever seen. A few years later, I would collaborate with Irene Gaskins and her staff to investigate how they developed active comprehension in Benchmark students. That work has gone far to promote a new vision about how comprehension instruction can be developed in schools—a vision that I helped to document at Benchmark and that was largely invented by Irene and her Benchmark associates (Pressley et al., 1992). I spent enough time in the school 15 years ago to notice any warts. There were few, with every hour spent at the school illuminating something innovative that I had not noticed before. For a psychologist convinced that education can be improved by applying research findings in school settings, Benchmark in the early 1990s was a dream come true to me—but not a dream, a reality—existing proof that impressive education can follow from intelligent awareness and interpretation of research by educators dedicated to developing educational programming that works even with the most challenged learners.

As this foreword is being written, I am collaborating with Irene again to do a new documentary of Benchmark, this time focusing on the entire school experience. Benchmark is so much better in 2005 than it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the old days, Benchmark used a homegrown approach to word recognition known as Word ID. Since then, the approach has been revised and improved. Comprehension instruction has continued to evolve, so that it now naturally occurs across years and across the curriculum, folding in much of the new thinking about comprehension developed since the early 1990s. Impressive science, social studies, and mathematics curricula have been devised and implemented. There is now much more complete and impressive attention given to the socioemotional needs of Benchmark students, again incorporating much of what is known about motivating students and developing in them realistic conceptions about how far they can go in life and how they can meet their academic and personal goals. Finally, the cramped building that housed the school in the early 1990s has been expanded considerably. More than just new space, this expansion is functionally supportive of Benchmark education in many ways. I was always . . .

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