Read 180, helping Brandywine Heights students make a 180 in reading

Patriot photo by Lisa Mitchell Brandywine Director of Special Education Mary Darrach talks about the Read 180 program to the Brandywine School Board.

Read 180 aims to help students make a 180-degree turn in their reading level.

Brandywine Director of Special Education Mary Darrach and special education teachers provided a presentation to the Brandywine School Board recently.

The school district started Read 180 as a way to help students with special education needs but after compliance monitoring the district realized that there are some regular education students who could benefit from the Read 180 program.

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Starting in 2008 with just fourth grade, now Read 180 serves fourth through 10th grade in Brandywine.The Read 180 program is divided into three sections over a 90 minute class period. The first section is a uniform lesson where all students are taught the same lesson.

“It is usually a reading piece where we pick apart a story that we read together,” Terry Flamm, an 8th grade special education teacher said during the presentation.

The second part is a rotation period where the classroom is split into three groups for 20 minutes each. The first rotation is a small group instruction where parts from the whole group lesson are taught in a smaller setting. The second rotation includes instructional software where the focus is on the individual student.

“They work at their own pace and the computer knows what their answers are and changes the instruction per their input,” said Flamm.

On the computer the students are reading, writing and learning new vocabulary based on their prior progress on the software.

The final rotation of the second period of the class involves individual reading. The students are allowed to pick any book they want that is in their lexile range.

“It’s fantastic because we have such a great library of books and a lot of times the students do not like the books they’re assigned,” Flamm said.

Students pick want they want to read about and there is always a book on whatever they want to read about.

“If they want to read a book on vampires, there is a book on vampires, and if they want to read a book on sports, there is a book on sports.”

The problem before was that students often did not want to read what they were told to read, but, Flamm said if they can pick a topic to read on they will become more engaged in the reading.

The last part of the class is a five- to 10-minute period that is usually covers what the students learned in that class period.

While the optimum number of students in a Read 180 classroom is 12 to 15, the program is set to teach 10 to 21 students. The problem with having more students is that it creates even larger groups, which takes away from the small group rotations.

“We have graduated about 20 students from the program because they’ve done so well that they are out in regular English classes,” Flamm said.

Kristina Perry, a Read 180 teacher at the high school, said, “At the high school level, Read 180 focuses on preparing for after graduation.”

One of the projects that high school students at Brandywine work on is a paper on a career and the Read 180 books have a lot of information that the students can use.

The R-books, workbooks that students use in high school English classes, have nine different career workshops that assess the student’s individual skills in comparison to that particular career.

A few members of the board wondered how the students’ progress was tracked once they left the program.

For special education students, they have a teacher who tracks their progress after they leave Read 180. For other students who leave Read 180 to move to other English classes, teachers will email the new English teachers to check-up on their progress.