I have been on a “reading crusade” for a long time.
Many of my former students were “thought to be beyond hope” by my local school administrators. After they attended my class, they completed high school and college successfully.
I devoted more than thirty years of my teaching career to helping students at Denby, Southeastern, and Cass Technical High School learn to increase their reading ability. I also gave my students many opportunities to write compositions.
One of my former students, since an employee at Sams Club, recognized me and thanked me for the help I had been to her. She told me her professor was very impressed with her writing ability in his course.
I was motivated to write The Language Enrichment Program (available now on Amazon under that title) when one of my students came to me in tears because she could not read well, and did not know how to read silently. My department head had just noticed her, and said she would remove the girl from my class because she did not belong in the ability group represented by my class.
The girl told me she was very fearful for her safety should she be transferred to a lower-ability group.
That night, in graduate school at Wayne State University, I asked my professor, Dr. Donald J. Lloyd, how he thought I could best help my student learn to read silently.
Dr. Lloyd answered, “That’s simple! Let her put a pencil in her mouth during her reading.”
I told my student the next day what Dr. Lloyd had suggested. She tried that immediately, and it worked.
Most of my students passed my class during my first semester of teaching at Neinas Junior High School in the fall of 1962. But I learned that any students who failed my class seemed to drop out of school and get into trouble.
I was given a new set of classes every semester. I was given the bottom ability classes to teach for a two-period class. One period was to be devoted to reading, the other to English. I soon discovered that my students did not read well enough to benefit from the English textbook we were to use. So, on the eve of New Year’s day, I began to write a learning resource in the then-popular programmed instruction format.
After Christmas vacation, I tried the little program with some of my brightest students in my honors class. I figured that they could withstand any “kinks” or problems in the program, and I could revise it a bit before I tried it with my reading class students.
That procedure worked just fine, and my reading class students were eager for their turn to use the little “boxes” containing my hand-written program on 3 by 5 file cards.
I’ll tell more in the next post in this series.