Case Studies: Poppy's Progress

Poppy’s tutor, JAC, has also been reporting on the BRI Yahoo Forum: Beginning Reading Instruction since it was launched in 2004. Poppy was born and raised in the States.  Her mother has learning disabilities, and her father is deaf. Both parents worked full time, with Poppy placed in day care from 6am-6pm. 
Throughout her childhood Poppy suffered many ear infections and delays in language development. She is a very slow learner with IQ of 50, and possibly with other undiagnosed learning disabilities. At the age of seven, she returned to Australia with her parents.
With kind permission of JAC


Spring 2004

Poppy, age 7.6 is in an Education Support Unit, not a regular class. Her language is very poor - I cannot imagine that she would have the skills to express much to me. She just messed about in her quiet stubborn kind of way. First time she has messed about and I did not recognise it for what it was at first. 
I would have been in a pickle without these little books for this particular child. I could not see Poppy going on at the rate recommended previously and dealing with all the variation and overlap options. 
This is the most delayed child I have worked with and I am learning heaps through her.

Although Poppy does not forget the strategy of sounding out, and remembers a lot of code it takes her so many exposures and sounding- outs before we get automatic recognition. How many times has she sounded out A-nn in Book 14 today - at least 10-15 maybe? I intend to start counting exposures next week to get an idea. The names of the characters are a good way to do this. I shall be making more games using the BRI words to supplement the flashcard exposure. 
But thank god for BRI. It came along just when I was wondering where I would get the decodables from. You need to be looking for this stuff before you find it.

Poppy adores her new book and gets very excited about it - we are up to Set 1/19.
She has been exposed/worked on some words well over 100 times. What it does show is that Poppy would probably not learn to read on any other programme that I can think of, that has this amount of repetition. I can't imagine that Poppy will just say the sounds and get the word.

Summer 2004

I usually start with Poppy reading her new book, which will take anything up to 20 minutes. Her absolute favourite thing is colouring in the pictures of the characters, which we do together, Poppy choosing the character and the colours and instructing me which bit to colour. This is where I do a lot of vocabulary work with her.
Our hour flies by and she is fully engaged all the time. One book a week is plenty. She rereads the book to anyone who will listen, usually mum and at least 2 more times in the week.Today on Book 20 was the first time I head Poppy blending as she goes rather than sound, sound, sound word. Previously, she only did this on one word but many other words in this book she has got off pit pat today. This is very exciting. Poppy had a great day today.
For the last 2 books (20/ 21) Poppy has increased her stock of words she can say quickly without saying every sound first. She still has to say all the sounds for that, this, them, what. I have another lift the flap book called 'Whose Feet' which I brought to read to her just for fun. Feet appears on every page. But she blithely guessed every time she saw it, with feet or toes or legs or whatever.

Winter 2004-2005

Saw Poppy today with BRI 2, book 13. The old words that she still needs to blend are: this, that, then, with, we, Is, plus a few newer ones. Errors were with see/is and is/see and me/my. But she is doing ok. I looked at her end of year assessments from school, where she is in a support unit for children with disabilities There was a miscue type running-record. Masses of code Poppy has not yet been introduced to, plus overlap options, a block of text about 12- 14 lines long, many multi- syllable words, and a topic about a building site.
Along with all the crosses was a record of the number of times Poppy had gone off task during this exercise (over 20).
It is as different from BRI as chalk is from cheese and about as nourishing too.

A couple of weeks back I reported how Poppy had read Book 15, Set 2 without any hesitation and without saying every single sound. Then in Book 16 we were back to the old routine of saying the sounds for words she had previously said quickly …. So at the next session I covered up every word except the one she was saying (see Resources: Notched Card ). 

For the words she confuses we, will, was etc. I covered the word and exposed each letter or digraph one at a time. So she said the words accurately, blending quickly.

Spring 2005

Poppy has taken a year but she has almost finished Set 2, and is reading the books pretty fluently. It is a delight to hear her read. Only a few words need to be sounded, she does it sub- vocally (almost - I see her lips moving)and she is getting new words after fewer repeats (e.g. Ben took about 5 times). So today she has 2 books to read at home! Dictation of short sentences has paid off and she can produce a short sentence of her own to write. School is giving her spellings every week now, which include words like are,was,said,cow. I don't know if they are part of any systematic instruction. She has had a varied lot of school readers. They send home decodables if her mother asks for them, otherwise the books are the 'emergent' stuff.

Poppy after a full year is now reading the Booster books. I said I was using the interlude with the Booster set to prime her, through games, with the words from Set 3. This is working a treat. She just blends those words without hesitation. Unbelievably she is still muddling see and is– she used to have see off pat but not any more since is came onto the scene; she also muddles the two sounds of /e/. But on the plus side you should hear the expression – amazing! For such a low IQ child, with poor language I am surprised. When she meets a new word like Bill or Ben she usually gets it without further sounding by the end of the book which is 5 or 6 exposures. Without exception she says the sounds to get the word, the protocol is well-embedded. 

Poppy was my first student to start with BRI, in fact she was my main impetus because I had nothing to give her except what I wrote myself. Over the last month or two her progress has picked up. She can write a short sentence or two. School must be doing something as well. She gets spelling lists from school which are probably high frequency words, they have no apparent relation to anything else, “Just learn these words, Poppy.” She is going to be moved up to a higher class I heard today, and will be getting individual speech therapy

Summer 2005

Poppy my 9-year-old, is sailing through Set 3 with little difficulty, slight hesitation perhaps at the few words with more than 4 or 5 sounds which appear. Her school continues to send guessing books home, they haven't a clue what she can do. It has taken 18 months for Poppy to get to this stage. I started work with her Christmas 2003 and checking back on her intake test, I find she either scored extremely poorly on all the tests or I could not test her because she could not understand what she had to do.
I bought her a couple of Dr. Seuss books for her birthday. Considering mum is also LD they are doing a great job. We are playing word games to help with exposure to wider vocabulary and speaking long words.

Autumn 2005

Even though I have had several children through ARI 1 I am looking at it so minutely now that Poppy is in it. She has started to balk a little at reading. She muddles ed and ing on some words, not all, and the 3 different sounds of ed do confuse her. With all the other kids I can explain about ed and give extra examples but I don't think Poppy even has the past tense in her vocabulary a lot of the time.
Poppy is on ARI 1 Book 4 and doing rather better than I expected. She just about makes it to the end of one story. I can see the wriggling and stress materialising visibly as she approaches the last 2 pages. Extraordinary. Also beginning to learn other code not yet in the stories. School spelling lists this week had vowel plus e words, but also 'give'. ..she loves spelling, and the Dr. Seuss books I bought her last Christmas.

Poppy struggled a lot yesterday on Book 5, ARI 1. We only managed about 4 pages of her mumbling her way through, refusing to read odd words. Using the NOTCHED CARD makes it more manageable for her to tackle the 2 syllable words, and words with new code.
We have slowed right down. I read the stories in Book 6 to her. I don't think she understood “The Long Song” - nothing in her experience there to help, no sibs, no little friends outside of school and in school switching from support class to mainstream for inclusion. 
Certainly more work on her speech and language will be the project over the long school holidays. To what extent does decoding helps speech and language? Surely she needs to have use of the past tense in her expressive vocabulary to be able to understand the ed code?

I've looked at my gloomy report for Poppy last week. Today there was a different child - well-rested, happy, pretty co-operative. She got the whiteboard out and wrote all the characters' names in her story. Then every time she forgot the name, she referred back to her writing and said the sounds from that! She made a couple of errors and read with expression and apparent comprehension.

Winter 2005-2006

We have started our Christmas holidays a week early this year so I have not seen my regulars for a week or so. But I still see Poppy on a weekly basis. She has just finished Book 6 of ARI 1. We had a lot of delaying tactics today, she managed to express that her last book was hard.
I decided to give her a rest. We shall concentrate on speaking, drawing and writing for the holidays, and perhaps buddy reading some suitable kid.lit. 
The 'Jelly and Bean' decodables that I have just bought are a welcome relief from ARI 1 – for Poppy and me! They are shorter for a start! She is also reading some of the easier Dr. Seuss books.

Summer 2006

The upshot is Poppy is to be moved full-time into mainstream next year with an assistant for some of the time I guess. Parents very happy about this. Poppy, now aged 10, will be transferred out of the LD class next year. Her school thinks her reading progress is very good. ARI 1 was very challenging for her – the length, the additional stuff to learn. We got to about Book 10 or 11 and Poppy became increasingly stubborn and recalcitrant in lessons, anxious, I guess. I switched tack and used Jelly and Bean, Frog and Toad, and now we are reading the Ruth Miskin materials. The stories are shorter, and the code that is taught is done in a different order, but nothing that Poppy can't cope with.

Poppy's language skills are still poor and she does not get any 'treatment' or advice to carers or to me. My impression was that DISTAR language programme was effective last long holidays when I saw her 3 times a week, but have not been able to continue that.
She is still weak on a lot of advanced code, guessing has increased, balks completely a lot of the time. As far as I know school said they are focussing on increasing her 'fluency' and reading with 'expression' no details how but they do not use any code - controlled reading material. 
I am planning to return to ARI 1 this week.

Summer 2007

We are just reaching the end of Semester 1 in the Antipodes. Some of you may remember Poppy who was my first BRI guinea pig. She stalled on ARI 1 about 18 months ago and I used other decodables. We have returned to ARI 1 and she is really finding them well within her capability now.
Poppy was moved from a LD to a mainstream class with an aide for part of the day. This has made a huge difference, being with regular children and also, it seems , better teachers. Her IEP was written in plain English, the books she brings home are old but appropriate. I also continue to use Language for Learning at far less than the optimum rate but we can get through a lesson now in about 10-15 minutes.

Winter 2007-2008

Poppy is now in Book 2 of ARI 2. She is inclined to be a sloppy reader but responds well to rewards. Poppy won 72 stickers. These were for getting endings like ed ing s er y and ly as well as not substituting the and a without prompting. Plenty of practice there!
Now I just have to find a way to wean her off the stickers. This school year she was in a mainstream class with an education assistant for part of the day. All seem very pleased with the success of this and she will be mainstream again next year. She had a teacher who was very keen for her to succeed in his class and very good assistants. What a difference from the ed. support class.

Ph.  +61 431 586 029  / Located in Perth, Western Australia