How To Reach Your Most Vulnerable Students This Year – Webinar Recording


Webinar: How To Reach Your Most Vulnerable Students This Year.
Presenter: Corey Aymes M.Ed.
Free of Charge – You only need to register.
We will send presentation slides and an attendance certificate to all registrants.

As educators, we’re always on a quest for the best ways to help our most vulnerable learners. Educators need the latest research on children of poverty, English language learners, and those with learning disabilities.

Find out which traits these students share, and how this predicts the amount of progress they’ll make this year.

We’ll discuss best practices for teaching and connecting with these students, plus show what happens when you take a neuroscience-based approach to your intervention programs.


Foundations of Success (Why Maths is a Reading Test) / Cognitive Skills 3:18 -5:35 (2 minutes)
Language Experiences by Group (The Impact of Poverty / Hart and Risley study) 5:35 – 9:38 ( 4 minutes)
Special Education Brain Research 9:40 – 11:05 (2 minutes)
English Language Learners (The Extra Challenge They Face) 11:05 – 13:14 (2 minutes)
Role of Neuroscience Technology / The Secret to Raising Smart Kids / Carol Dweck 13:15 – 23:06 (8 minutes)
Boosting Essential Skills (Memory) – 8 Ideas to Use in the Classroom 23:07 – 30:06 ( 7 minutes)
Vocabulary Development / English Language Learners 30:08 – 34:48 ( 4 minutes)
Student Growth Practices 34:50 – 37:06 (2 minutes)
Use NeuroScience Tools (Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant) 40:30 – 51:25 (11 minutes)
The Vital Role of Educators 50:43
Questions and Answers 51:25
How do I improve reading for middle-grade students? 54:20
Does the program improve comprehension? 57:15
Monitoring tools 58:30
Fast ForWord versus Lexia (and other products) 61:10
Using Fast ForWord with non-native English speakers 63:18

Transcript of Webinar – How to Reach Your Most Vulnerable Students


Please help me welcome your presenter today. I have worked with her now for 16 years I think 16 almost 17 years. Cory Armes holds a bachelor’s degree in both general and special education and a master’s degree and special education with certification in the areas of educational diagnostician and mid- management. She’s a wonderful colleague and presenter and I’m very excited to welcome her today to present to you all. So, welcome Cory. Thank you, Carrie, appreciated, and welcome everyone. I’ve got the group chat window open so I can see where everyone’s signing in from and hopefully we’ll be able to check the Q&A questions as we go along as well. So glad to see that you’re here and the first thing we’re going to do is jump right into a poll question, so I can get an idea of where you are right now, maybe why you wanted to join in for this webinar?

So, we have just three let me see three items that you will have to choose among. So, one is the main thing, why are you here today, why did you join us are you curious to know what the science says about helping your students or are you looking for other ways to improve your most vulnerable students’ progress this year? Or maybe you have a third option that’s not included in those two and so you can put that information in the Q&A window. So, click on the little bubble to the left of those three statements, choose one and then click the submit button and we’ll look at our results in just a minute. All right, well, hopefully, everybody was able to quickly make a selection. Let me go back I clicked on the wrong button, and so the first thing I see is the majority of people are looking for ways to improve progress as their most vulnerable students, we also have some people that are curious about the science and then we have some that are just wanting to keep their professional development updated so we welcome all of you and hopefully I’ll be able to address all of your questions and concerns during this time together.

First of all, we know in America and I would venture to great guess across the world that we have a lot of struggling learners right now. Many times, we see minimal or even non-existent reading and learning gains in our students and it’s difficult for many student’s goals and districts to even change their approaches to intervention each year. It’s hard to make changes, it’s hard for us as educators and hard for the institutions of schools to make changes that are needed.

Foundations of Success

So, let’s look at some of the things that science tells us about our students and us as educators even perhaps. So, the first thing I would venture to guess the reason you’re on this webinar today is that your goal as an educator is to help your students to be successful in these content areas.  You want them to be lifelong learners and you want them to be successful. So, this content is going to be the main focus for our classrooms across the world I would venture to guess. But in order for our students to be successful in those content areas they have to be good readers. In America, the math assessment that students take is essentially a reading assessment because almost every problem on that math test is a word problem or a story problem. So, if the students can’t read it, they’re not going to be able to accomplish the task successfully.  And if they can’t read, the odds are pretty good that they have underlying language issues as well because reading stands on the shoulders of language. And if they’re struggling in those areas we can pretty much bet there are some cognitive skills wrapped into that as well. And when I talk about cognitive skills I’m talking about memory, attention, processing and sequencing the ability for students to stay focused long enough to really understand what is being said in the classroom, what the task is, what they’re reading perhaps and then hang on to that information long enough to do something with it.  So, if we can develop their cognitive skills those essential learning skills for all of us, build their language and reading skills we’re going to provide a strong foundation for our students and once we do that, then everything else falls into place. They can be successful in those content areas.

Language Experiences by Group 

So, let’s jump in and look at some information on different groups of students. The first group I want to talk about, are students coming from a background of poverty or who are currently living in poverty. Because they often struggle with their language and we know why from Hart & Risley study. This study was done back in the 90s and Hart & Risley were professors at the University of Kansas and they looked at the relationship between early language experiences at home and then overall language development. And what they found was there was a strong relationship between the language experience vocabulary development and the student socioeconomic status. So, what they did was to begin by looking at exactly what kind of language and how much language young children were exposed to early in life. So, they started about seven to nine months of age went into the homes of families and different socioeconomic groups and the people doing the research recorded, transcribed, and analyzed, about once a month for an hour at a time in these homes what the parents were saying to the children. They did this over about two and a half years and then they extrapolated that data out to about forty-eight months which in most countries is probably the started preschool. Then they organized that data by socioeconomic status. And so, you can see on this graph that the studies showed that the children in professional families had been exposed to about thirty-two million more words than the children whose families were on public assistance or living in poverty. Now of course that’s not thirty-two million different words, it’s that overall watching of language that builds the language experience, build the knowledge base builds vocabulary, and get students ready for school gets them ready to be successful. Not only was there a huge difference in the number of words, but look at the slope of those three lines. So, not only do these children differ in prior language experiences before going to school, those differences continue over time because of those slopes of their lives, as one of our researchers said, those children in the professional families are learning faster they have an advantage when they start and they continue to be advantaged as they go along, because they’re continually making more progress than most of the other students. Now Hart and Risley went back and looked at kindergartens the kindergarten student’s vocabulary in 2003. You can see we get a very similar picture that we did in the previous chart and that’s that the children from high-income families have almost twice vocabulary entering kindergarten as those children coming from low-income families. So, when you consider that, language experience and vocabulary development are a major part of the brains toolkit for representing manipulating and retaining information and in learning to read.

These are significant differences that are going to be a big challenge for educators as well as the children in these classrooms.  So that’s one look at children coming from poverty.

Special Education Brain Research

But what about children who are currently receiving special education services. Well, the most recent research shows that development delay and learning disabilities all impact students attention processing, memory and language and they’re considered connection problems in the brain. Think about those cognitive skills I mentioned earlier attention processing, memory and then language was the other area that we have students struggling with. So, the good news is, that we can improve these connections. We’ll talk more about that later, but we can help strengthen these skills to help students improve their abilities in the classroom and beyond. We also know that in the United States, recent guidelines have changed so now we really have to reinforce academic achievement for students with disabilities rather than just focusing on compliance with federal requirements. So, we’ve really got to work on making a difference for these students because they need it as well, as it is required by The Federal Government.

English Language Learner

So, then if we look at a third group of students who often struggle, that would be our students who are second language learners or learning English as a second language. So, if we think about what foundational skills we have to have to learn a new language, we’ve got to consider the grammatical system. You have to be able to focus and sustain your focus, and you have to be able to have a good working memory to hang on the new to the new words that you learn. You also have to be able to discriminate the individual sounds within those words which is difficult if not impossible if you don’t have those phonemic basics or connections in your brain map. And then the grammatical system adds a whole new twist to it if the grammatical system of the new language is similar to the existing language, then it’s much easier to make that transition, but if there are two totally different systems than the brain has to add a new grammatical system on to the existing one, which just adds to the difficulty of that task. So, then we’ve got the extra challenge of learning English, because we know that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn and so it’s really important to help students perceive that internal detail or the individual sounds of words to help them navigate their way through developing English as a second language. So, they’ve got a lot to do and a lot of skills to develop, and if those second language learners are from poverty or perhaps also have a learning disability on top of learning a second language, then that adds a whole different level of complexity to what they’re doing.

Role of Neuroscience Technology

So, if we really want to impact students learning a new language, students in special education, and students from poverty, we’ve got to start with those foundational cognitive skills. The ones that are here in this graphic memory, attention processing, and sequencing, we have to build attention and memory skills in our students, so they’re better able to process the sounds of English and then organize the sounds within words and words within sentences. So, if we want better outcomes in our schools, we need to make sure that our students have a strong foundation, and the brain capacity needed to build those content area levels of proficiency. You may be familiar with Dr. Eric Jensen, and one of the things he talks about frequently, is the importance of building learning capacity so students can process and retain the information those content areas that they need to learn. I know schools are providing caring environments which is a big part of it, but what methods are we using now to really develop student’s cognitive skills, and to build that overall cognitive capacity. I think a lot of schools may not have things in place, to really help, So, let’s look at some things that we can do in the classroom to help with that. This one may be a familiar a growth mindset.

So, let’s do a kind of a quick review cover, but just to give people who may not be familiar with it, a basic understanding of what it’s about. So, a mindset, according to Carol Dweck who’s the researcher is the perception of how we look at ourselves. So, a good example in our students, would be some believe that they are maybe intelligent or smart and others may view themselves as unintelligent and perhaps even call themselves dumb. Those would-be examples of different mindsets. So, Dweck did a study looking at seventh graders and determined that the students who believed that intelligence was malleable, which is a growth mindset those students earned higher math grades in the fall semester than those who believed that their intelligence was static or fixed. Even though the groups had the same math achievement test scores in the sixth-grade look at the difference, in this graph as they went from fall of seventh grade to spring of eighth grade. So, four assessments and you can see that the students who believed that they couldn’t change their intelligence or their ability went down just slightly, but look at the students who believed they could, who believed that with additional effort that they could make a difference in their performance and their intelligence, sure enough, they could. So, using data can be a really powerful tool for teachers to help develop a growth mindset in students, as students see that their hard work is making a difference and then you can show them data to show they’re making growth on their assessments or their class work whatever, it may be then their self-motivation and their growth mindset is going to increase. Now this is not to say that failure as the students are learning has to be avoided, that’s not the case we don’t want to just focus on student success. Failure to challenge is part of the learning process and they need to learn that that’s one of the key aspects of learning, if you look at some quotes from famous people who’ve been very successful they talk about learning from their mistakes and making thousands of mistakes. So, through failure, students learn what doesn’t work or they decide on more efficient, effective methods and strategies that they can use to develop those content and language knowledge and skills. The more explicit we are in regarding the student’s growth over time the more likely they’re going to connect to their work and effort that they’re putting into success and achievement.

So, let’s look at some examples of what that sounds like. So, when students have been successful, instead of saying something like a good job, nice work, or excellent which I think all of us do with our children at school as well as at home. Think about things like your hard work is paying off, or you kept going even when the going got tough or it got challenging. It helps students when they’re struggling to think about things differently. When changing our language alone doesn’t immediately change students’ mindset, you have to remember that language holds great power. So, words can help build students’ confidence and encourage them to keep going and persevere and to think differently about their success and their failure. That’s another important aspect. So, instead of saying work harder or keep trying, help them to delve into it what’s proving difficult or let me try explaining it a different way. Let them understand that not everybody understands things the same way and that that you also expect them to make mistakes, that’s just part of learning, So, we can be intentional and strategic in our use of language to help students develop a growth mindset and I would venture to guess it’s going to have an impact on their self-esteem as well.

So, another way to encourage growth mindset in struggling learners and even second language learners is to help them build stamina, through the instructional periods. To do that by chunking information for specific amounts of time, for example, students who are easily frustrated may need shorter time spans at first to be able to really digest the complex concepts and instruction. So, instruction can be broken up into time frames that are more manageable or just beyond what the students are able to handle in order to help them build up stamina over time. So, if students have difficulty after 10 minutes of instruction maybe we need to just push the instruction for 12 minutes when they get pretty comfortable with that, bump it up to 15 to 20, and so. Communicating to students ahead of time that the work they’re about to encounter is hard, it’s complex can also be helpful. So, they understand it’s going to take effort on their part, it’s going to take significant focus for a certain amount of time to be successful with that information. Sometimes the complexity of a particular instruction or task is better handled in what we could say as short bursts, especially at first until students build more stamina and by making these changes explicit to students over time, letting them know what’s happening. You can help them to see the growth they’re making in terms of stamina during instruction. Now we also have from again Dr. Eric Jensen the concept of never giving more than half of our instructional time to the delivery of new content. So, when you have a lesson and you’re introducing new material think about that strategically so no more than half of your time is given to that new information. Because students need at least half of the learning time to process that new information and to connect it to previous learning. If you do that they’re going to understand and remember it longer and I really as a teacher I enjoy. I got a kick out of the phrase “you can teach faster, but, students will just forget faster” and how many of us have been in that situation, where we think we’ve done a great lesson, we’ve covered all the modalities we’ve done everything we knew to do, send them home and they come back the next day and it’s as if we never said a word about that information before. So, we’ve really got to consider how much can they take in at one given time. Thinking back about the chunking too for some of the students and really helping them apply that new learning to previous learning and developing a growth mindset as well.

Boosting Essential Skills (Memory)

So, let’s think of a few other things that we can do to boost the memory working memory of students. So, I have eight ideas here: –

One of them is, working on visualization skills: – So keep creating a picture in students’ minds of what they’ve just read or heard my granddaughter was here one day and I think she was that the end of first grade and she was starting to read a chapter book, and I thought I don’t know if she’s really ready for that so I said “Riley do you understand what you’re reading do you know are you getting this?” and she looked at me and said, you know I just don’t know how I do it, but I can just visualize it in my mind. Now I’ve got to admit I was first of all mightily impressed that a seven-year-old could use the word visualized correctly in a sentence, but then I realized she really could do it and wasn’t that what I wanted for every student I’d ever worked with. The ability to get a picture in their minds of what they had just read or heard. So, maybe they can start out with some little things like, if you told them to divide up ten pieces of candy among five students, have them draw a picture think about what that would look like draw a picture of it and then as they get better at visualizing they probably won’t need to draw the picture to go along with it.

Another good thing is having children teach us how to do things. Being able to explain how to do something, involves a lot of information and understanding in order to do that. So, if they’re learning a new skill ask them to teach it to you, pair them up with another student in class and let them start working that, with that information right away rather than just waiting to have their names called.

Another idea is games that involve visual memory, things of the matching game like concentration or memory that’s a great way to work on visual memory. You can also do things like giving the child a magazine page and having him circle all the specific words such as “th” or the letter “a” in one minute put a timeframe on it. Turn license plates into a game, now this would be one that the kids could do at home or if they’re writing a school bus. Reciting letters and numbers on a license plate and saying them backward too. That’s one thing I’ve heard Dr. Jensen talk about several times, giving children, maybe just one or two numbers or letters to start with and building up their capacity, but also having them say those letters and numbers backwards, because that’s really what working memory is about, being able to hold the information and do something with it.

Kids can also play cards, there are lots of card games that help with working memory in two different ways. One they have to keep the rules of the game in mind. And second, they also have to remember what cards they have as well as what’s already been played. So those kinds of things can really help students improve their working memory.

Another thing is encouraging active reading. Think about those highlighters and sticky notes job notes down underline highlighting text to keep the focus on the information and help them hang on to that information long enough to answer questions. Talking about out loud is really important for some students and being able to ask questions those verbal kids who need to verbalize things as they’re doing, it can really be helpful.

You can also chunk information to the smaller bytes. We talked about chunking time frames, but think about phone numbers in Social Security numbers why do they have hyphens in them because it’s easier to remember few small group of numbers than to remember one long string of numbers. So, when you’re giving student multi-step directions break it into parts. Write them down or just give them one at a time until they build up that working memory. You can also use graphic organizers to help break writing assignments into smaller chunks and pieces.

Another thing that’s really helpful for a lot of kids, is if we make it multi-sensory. Processing information in many ways as possible can really help with both working memory and long-term memory. So, again writing down for children so children can look at the information. I’m one of those kids, I like to see things written down as a child, and as an adult. For some students, they need to say things out loud or hear things out loud. Maybe for some kids tossing a ball back and forth while you discuss things will really help them be able to complete that information in their brains because they need to be able to touch things and move. So, it’s anything that you can do to help students keep information in mind long enough to use it is going to be helpful.

And then finally help them make connections they’ve got to have associations with that connect different details and attaching new information to previously learned information. So, think about mnemonics and ways for them to use little and acronyms and names for them to remember different pieces of information. We use those a lot in science with the colors of the rainbow or the order of the planet you can probably think of several times that you’ve used mnemonics with your kids. And also finding ways to connect information with retrieving that long-term memory at pieces. So being able to compare old and new and putting pieces together it’s so important for the kids. So, anything you can do to help build the working memory is going to be very important. Because research is showing that working memory is one of the key weak areas in students from poverty. I would venture to say for many of our students across the board who are struggling working memory is an ongoing issue.

Vocabulary Development

Let’s look as well at vocabulary. Now I’m from Texas or at least I live in Texas now, and so I pulled some data from 2002 but I think it still is some good information. It was from a reading initiative that was done and looking at second language learners. When we look at grades kindergarten through second this information showed that general education students learn over 800 words new words, each year which is about two a day. From third-grade up these same students learn about 3,000 words each year, which is six to eight a day. So, for our second language learners to succeed, they need to learn 2,000 new words in English per year, for grades K-2 which comes to about five to seven new words a day. And then from third up they need to learn about eight to twelve per day or four thousand per year. I don’t know about you, but those are some pretty overwhelming numbers. And so, what can we do to help our students build their vocabulary.

Well, one thing we have to consider is that we know that students who have a restricted code or a low level of oral language they’re not going to enjoy the same academic success as those who’ve mastered grade-level vocabulary. So, the key is creating strategies semantic maps and things like that to help teachers teach vocabulary in a way that they can really build up their language acquisition. So, a lot of these strategies work with General Eds students with Special Eds students, the key is really using the things available those semantic maps and things like that, to really help students master vocabulary and then to hang on to it. and not every strategy is appropriate for teaching every word, so you’ll have to determine which strategies are going to work best for students in order to maximize the results. So, one of the things that we’ve learned is that conventional methods aren’t always really successful, and when I’m talking about conventional methods, I’m talking about looking up a word in a dictionary or thesaurus, writing down the definition learning the word in isolation that really proved to be ineffective with most struggling learners. But we found that with through the National reading panel that current teachers, many current teachers who were taught in their prior schooling, that those traditional methods of looking up words in the dictionary or the thesaurus were with you, but they are the least effective methods. So, it’s ineffective for native English speakers and English language learners and they’re not going to be exposed to what they need to be exposed where to be successful. So, the words are best learned in context and there it’s best if you can provide an emotional connection. So, if you can really do something or tell a story or perhaps play some music, something that really gets the kids connected, that’s going to help them remember the information longer. If they can read multiple stories, that use the same vocabulary that’s just going to help cement even more. And then if you compare words with actions, then that’s one of the most effective ways to learn new words. So, if it’s things they could get up and do then it’s going to be even more helpful for those students, as they’re trying to really accelerate their vocabulary development.

Student Growth Practices

So, another thing that I just got, an email this week was through the Institute of Education Sciences, and they released a study looking from pre-kindergarten through third grade in title one schools. And they were looking to see what instructional practices in the schools that they studied, indicated things that they said were worth further IES study – the organization study. But I think they’re probably things that we could say make a lot of sense, to do for students who are struggling. So, they looked at over a thousand pre-k through Grade three schools in 80 hours classrooms in 83 title one school, and so these practices were the most consistently related to student growth. So, one was engaging students in defining new words during or after reading a text. So, getting them actively engaged not just writing the words down not just looking up a definition, but doing things like acting them out or connecting them to a story that might have a personal connection for some of those students. making connections between prior knowledge and the stories is an important thing that kids need to do. Promoting that higher-order thinking skills by having students analyzing information, explaining their thinking. And I think sometimes we don’t do that enough and then developing new ideas, okay if this is true what if this happened or what would be the next step having them take it a step further. And then really having students focus their attention on the meaning of a text before they read it so you would introduce the topic encourage them to make predictions do those kinds of things. So, again these were not recommendations but things that they were going to recommend for further study, but I think they just make sense and are things that we could easily incorporate into our classroom practices.

So, we have another poll question. We have a couple in fact, and so I need to know what kind of interventions do you use right now to help your students, is your focus just small group reading intervention with pen and paper type activities? Do you have all of your students receiving the same instruction you don’t have any breaking out of reading interventions or anything like that everybody pretty much has the same task in front of them? if it’s neither of these and you have other interventions, let us know that and then also if you can share in the Q&A window any specifics that you may have, as well that would be great information for us to have. So, give everybody just a second to think about that, and I see that most people who responded said that they used pen and paper activities. Some different intervention type activities that require the students to actually read and write. We have some 12% that they everybody receives the same instruction others 20%, said they have other interventions and then 20 also said they were sharing that in the Q & A windows. So, we have one that uses GLAD strategies, some have small group, but also individual strategies that they have into play they put into place. We have a Reading Recovery teacher, so they use, he or she uses many different activities such as the highlight and building words, that’s great. One-to-one mentor says inventory sessions, one-to-one multi-sensory activities and pairing and sharing type activities as well. Lots of great ideas coming in from that Q&A window.

So, to follow up with that I want to ask you how effective do you think these interventions are at your schools do you think they’re working well you’re seeing more than your growth for every school year? you don’t think they’re working as well and you want to try something new you see that they’re working for the majority but we still have some stragglers? or you’re just not really sure? and again you can share in the Q&A window. So, make a selection there let us see what kind of responses. And I think we’ve had probably enough time, so let me look, we have a small percentage who say they’re working well. Slightly larger about double saying that they need to try something new. The vast majority saying that they’re working for most of the kids but some continued to not make the progress, that they were hoping for. And then we have a few that aren’t really sure which is working best which is completely understandable. Sometimes it’s just hard to know.

Use Neurosciences Tools 

What I would like to do right now is talk to you a little bit about some neuroscience based tools and that’s the Fast ForWord k12 program which includes two products that I’ll give you a little bit of information on. Fast ForWord addresses language and literacy needs and it’s based on the science that the brain can change under the right conditions. So, two things to remember about the Fast ForWord products, if used correctly, you get results quickly and those results last. I was a special Ed teacher for many years and what I saw with my kids was we tended to use the same program year after year after year, and the students may have made some progress but when they came back the following school year we picked up instead of where they left off the previous year further back into the previous school year. So, we weren’t making a year’s gain in a year’s time and then after my student some of my students used Fast ForWord, we saw a very different picture for those students. Because it was making a difference in their ability to capture process and retain the information they were given. Now the second program is called Reading Assistant and reading assistant basically gives a private tutor for students to have guided oral reading. And this really allows teachers to move on with the business of teaching. It’s really difficult today for a teacher to sit with a student for 10 minutes of oral reading, even a group of student’s multiple times a week, and so we can really eat up your school day if you were to do that. But if you can have a computer do that service that private tutor for the students, then and capture the information that you need the running record type information, then that would be a huge help and that’s exactly what reading assistant provides for teachers.

So, we have three steps that we recommend with the Fast ForWord, reading assistant products to really help get your kids up to speed using a neuroscience approach.

The first is to prepare the students. There’s a difference between struggling readers and typical readers brains, and that is that struggling readers brains don’t process words and sounds as efficiently. So, if we can prepare their brains for reading by improving those cognitive skills we talked about, improving the perception of the sounds of English, both for our just struggling learners and our second language learners, then we can make a big difference for those students. Now we have research if you go to our website we have hundreds of studies but this one is a fMRI study that was done both at Harvard twice at Harvard and once it’s done excuse me once at Harvard twice at Stanford, and if so if you look on the left-hand side you see what a proficient readers brain looks like, doing a reading task so we see very specific areas of activation in that left hemisphere or the language center of the brain. If you look at the center picture of struggling readers we see a very different picture, they don’t have those clear areas of activation. Not that the brain is damaged, it’s just that it hasn’t been activated properly. Maybe they come from a poverty background and no one talked to them very much they didn’t get that language exposure maybe they had a lot of ear infections as they were growing up. So, different things can cause students to not develop those areas of activation. But then after those struggling students went through Fast ForWord for eight weeks, look at the third graphic to see the changes in their brain activation. All they needed was activation, and that’s what Fast ForWord provided the good preparation of the brain to be able to receive good instruction.

The next step in the process is practice. Students have to have good practice in order to develop good skills. And we know that struggling readers need 10 to 30 times the practice that their peers do in order for them to catch up. So, with Fast ForWord students receive personalized individualized and intensive practice on a wide variety of reading skills, more than any other approach or intervention. Intensity is the key to getting those enduring results that lasts. So, here’s a graph that shows the intensity of the practice in grammar vocabulary, verb tenses, prefixes and suffixes, morphology all those different skills that our students have to build. You can see the orange line it gives you the Fast ForWord experience and the blue line is another reading intervention. So, the program provides over twenty-five to thirty-five thousand trials in academic language exercises, where the other one was about five thousand. So, 5 times the practice to make a difference for those students who are struggling and need to catch up and catch up quickly.

We also have for the third step that reinforcement piece. We know that silent reading is not effective for struggling readers that students need to read out loud to improve their fluency comprehension and they’re reading expression which also helps with comprehension. So, with speech verification technology reading assistant listens to the students as they read out loud, and then provides a guided reading coach for them. So, they reinforce their new reading skills as they’re building fluency and comprehension as well as developing their vocabulary.

So, the key is tying it all together. Proficient reading isn’t just about core reading systems that you see listed there at the top half on the left-hand side It’s also about developing those mental systems and those cognitive skills. And that’s why many other reinventions don’t help as much as we want them to because they’re not bringing in the mental system piece. So, each of the intervention exercises in Fast ForWord and reading assistant cross train those core reading skills with the cognitive skills, that’s what makes the difference that we see in our programs. Taking the preparation piece adding the practice and then reinforcing those skills the application piece that is going to tie it all together and help the students develop automaticity.

So, we have products for k-12 from basic those really intensive cognitive and language skills all the way up to higher-level thinking skills and so you get a comprehensive intervention that addresses different reading abilities different skill levels all the way from younger to older student’s high-interest low ability if that’s where they are. So, again the first two in each of these two rows elementary and secondary provide that preparation piece, building the skills in the brain then they get to practice in the reading products and then they get that reinforcement with that guided oral reading, that reading assistant provides. We also have a great reporting and assessment features so we have our online programs called Myscilearn and that is where the teachers can access the reporting students can be assessed automatically before and after they complete different levels of products. And it makes it very easy for us to monitor the learning progress from the individual level to the classroom to the whole school or the district. Different reports are available for different levels and I can tell you from personal experience in using Fast ForWord, I saw phenomenal growth in my students. I had 25 students who were receiving special education services and in a six-week summer program, I saw those students make a year and a half gain in both language and reading assessments, simply by activating those cognitive skills and those language skills that they needed. So, I mentioned that we have lots of research studies on our website our programs have more than 55 patents in neuroscience and education and there’s really no other reading intervention program that has been researched as thoroughly and reviewed as much as Fast ForWord has.

The Vital Role of Educators

So, each and every day, those who work with students in school or in after-school programs are impacting those student’s brains. Are you using strategies and programs that will make the most effective impact that you possibly can for your students? I think that’s what we have to determine. Especially right now as most of us are beginning a new school year in so many places. Are we maximizing the effectiveness of our programs and our strategies that we’re using with our students?

Webinar Conclusion 

So, Carrie I’ve come to the end of the presentation, we’ve got some information you can sign up for free samples of Fast ForWord, at and then you’ll also be receiving a link to this recording a certificate of attendance and then another link to help sign up for those free samples. Okay so Cory, we have some questions coming in so in order for those of you that do want to still ask a question you can go down to your purple QA icon in the middle of the bottom of your screen and submit questions, that way a lot of you submitted thoughts throughout the webinar that way so just go back there and ask away.


How often do kids have to use this?


We have different options. We do recommend that students use Fast ForWord for a hundred 50 minutes a week, if at all possible. So, we have a 30 minutes protocol so you could do that five days a week five days 30 minutes will give you that 150 minutes a week. You could also do three days a week at 50 minutes and get the same results. the same time built into the system. We do have other options available we have 40 minutes both in three days and five days a week and 90 minutes which I know most schools are not going to opt for 90 minutes a day, that’s what I use that summer when I was running the program but that was our only option at the time it was actually hundred minutes a day at that point. It makes a great summer school program which I know right now that’s the last thing on your mind as you’re going into the school year. But keep it in the back of your mind for next summer because I had kids reach completion might say 5th through 8th graders in four weeks’ time. And so that was a huge piece for those kids to go back that next school year and make a big difference in their ability to perform in the classroom. You can also use it for three days a week minimum, right Corey, so three days is the minimum protocol.


How do I improve reading for middle-grade students?


One of the great things about Fast ForWord, if you think about the chart where I had the two rows elementary and secondary. And that very first outline of four products two on the top two on the bottom. those are the ones that really work on building cognitive skills but also work on building the phonemes of English and the English language. So, they’re going to work on specific phonemes that may not be in their native languages, but are in English and it starts out with what we call acoustically modified speech. So, those sounds that may be difficult for them to perceive are stretched out so they’re longer and louder which gives the brain more time to process those sounds. As they get good at perceiving the sounds accurately it’s going to gradually speed up that’s one of the great things about Fast ForWord, it’s adaptive. So, it adjusts to each student’s responses, so as I get good at something it’s going to speed up and move me up through the levels of the content until the goal is to have me processing at normal speeds by the end. Now the way that’s going to help me as a second language learner, is I’m going to start perceiving some of those English sounds that I may have missed before. It’s very difficult to learn to read or write a language if you don’t perceive all the sounds in that language. And of course, with English being so complex it’s especially important that the students be able to get that internal detail of words perceived those sounds and to hang on to that information. Because they can be overwhelming so we really want to build their ability to concentrate and remember those sounds as well as perceive them automatically. And then it’s going to also include vocabulary and grammatical structure, remember how important it is to develop the grammatical structure of a new language. It’s going to give them that foundation they need and what I have heard from many many people who work with second language learners, is they’ve seen the students who go through Fast ForWord learn English more quickly than their counterparts who did not have it, because it gives them those foundational skills that they need.


Does the program improve comprehension?


It does, it does I’ve seen students, and that’s one of the comments that parents and teachers often make, it’s that they’re understanding things better they’re able you know when you’re struggling with reading and you’re having difficulty decoding a paragraph let’s say, you know by the time you get through that paragraph and you fought your way through decoding, you often have no clue what the paragraph meant or what it was saying. Because all of your energy is going into decoding. So, if we can help the decoding piece go more easily and become more automatic, then they have energy left over and understanding left over to be able to get that the comprehension piece. So, there’s lots of different exercises that work on building comprehension. First listening comprehension and then it moves into reading comprehension because very rarely does reading comprehension exceed listening comprehension. So, you’ve got to get that listening comprehension developed first but it works on both.


Monitoring tools?


Yes, we have great reports for both products, it gives you detail tells you at a glance there. I like it because it’s both graphic and then charts. So, whichever you prefer you can access either one in the reporting system. So, it’s going to let you know, first of all, how are the students doing, are they doing what they’re supposed to be doing every day? because if they’re not doing the products, it’s really hard to get results. That’s just a proven fact with any program you use. If you don’t use it you don’t get the results, so it lets you have that information but then it also goes into the details. It really gets into the specifics about what kinds of mistakes are the students making. And if you have an IEP or an individual education plan for students in special education, those error reports can be a great thing to take to those meetings with the parents and the educators who work with those students. Because it will let you pinpoint where the problems are they having difficulty with subject verb agreement or they have had difficulty with specific sounds or phonemes in the language it gets into that kind of detail there’s also I think I mentioned it briefly an assessment piece called reading progress indicator, that’s built in it’s your choice whether you use it or not, but it will give you a great equivalent a national percentile based on the United States. It is nationally norm to across the United States, and it gives you some good information on how well the students did with decoding, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension and then they can take that assessment again as they move through the different Fast ForWord products, and they don’t have to go through all ten. Don’t expect that everybody has to do ten they may only do two or three and they’re good to go so it will let you know the progress that continuous monitoring that you need to know. And then you can also get that information in the reporting section and if you want it to it will even automatically place the students where they need to begin in either Fast ForWord or reading assistant.


Fast ForWord versus Lexia (and other products)


Well, you might want to get back with some more specific information. I can give some kind of general information. You know Lexia is a lot like or I think is even based on the Orton-Gillingham method which is very specific to sounds and building those really foundational skills in students who are struggling. Great programs but it goes back to if my brain cannot perceive the difference between say for example the “b” sound as in “boy” and the “d” sound as in “dog”. It doesn’t matter how many times my teacher tells me or a program tells me this is “ba” and this is “da”. If I don’t have those sounds in my brain map I’m not going to perceive the difference. So, what a lot of schools will do is put kids on Fast ForWord, help develop those perception abilities and then they’re going to be even more successful if they go back into Lexia or a similar program. It just helps students really be able to clarify the sound and the language usage and the memory and attention those cognitive skills are not developed in other programs and so we have so many kids that are have been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, and we know that we have so many kids struggling with memory issues. Why not do something that will really solidify those skills and fix the problem if you will and then let them move on to the programs that are going to help accelerate.


Using Fast ForWord with non-native English speakers


Yes, it’s a very tonal language compared to English. And you know it’s really been used widely across the world I think we have 55 countries now beside the United States and Canada using the Fast ForWord products, and they’re really doing that to accelerate the students acquisition of English. Some have seen that they improve in their native language as well, because if you think about it if I can improve my memory my attention and my processing, whether I’m processing individual sounds or big chunks of information, it’s just going to make me better all the way around. We have some synapse in China they use both Fast ForWord and reading assistant with their students and they have had a phenomenal growth and one thing that I’ve seen some videos of some of the kids, telling the reading assistant stories after they’ve been to Fast ForWord and reading assistant and they don’t have strong accents either. It’s helping them really build those English phonemes well enough that their articulation of the English language has improved as well. So, it’s perfectly appropriate for any country I believe any student can benefit, I went through one of the products and improved my own auditory memory. Like I said I’m a visual person I remember what I see, more than what I hear and it helped me improve my listening skills.


Okay, so that is all we have time for today if we didn’t get to your question please email us at webinars at We did get questions about cost and that’s going to be based on which country you’re writing us from, and all of that. So, cost questions, feel free to email us at webinars at We will end here and again please email me so again Corey mentioned that by tomorrow end of day tomorrow I’m going to put the slide back on after the webinar if you want to see free samples of the Fast ForWord software, you can just go to sign and click on free samples and give us your information and get in there and then also check your inbox tomorrow for what we’ll send out an email that will say thank you very much for attending, and we’ll have a link to the recording a certificate of attendance link, and a link to sign up for the free samples so if you’re interested for that we are the great to have you check all that out. And thank you Cory for a wonderful presentation today and we look forward to seeing you all online again soon. So, have a great rest of your day and thanks for joining us bye-bye.