Did you know that Alcuin Montessori has a new partnership with Rogers Park-based Redwood Literacy? Beginning in the fall of 2020, Alcuin will expand its Montessori program to provide students with learning struggles the option to receive a specially tailored curriculum through Redwood Literacy right here in Oak Park.
This full-day, academic year program, for children in kindergarten through 8th grade, will feature Alcuin’s long-standing nationally recognized Montessori education, an educational curriculum with Wilson-certified teachers, as well as Alcuin-led enrichment such as art, Spanish, swimming, and theater allowing students to become fully immersed in the Alcuin community.
There are currently no programs in Oak Park, and the surrounding areas, that offer this opportunity to children with learning challenges. Seeing a demand that wasn’t being met, Alcuin and Redwood worked together to create a seamless collaboration.
Our Director of Admissions, Alejandra Valera, chatted with Kait Feriante, from Redwood Literacy, and put together an FAQ for those wanting to learn more about the program.
AV: What exactly is the Redwood Literacy program?
KF: Redwood Literacy offers a highly individualized structured literacy intervention for struggling readers and writers. We use the Wilson Reading Program and System which is an intensive, multi-sensory program for closing decoding and encoding gaps. It is also a comprehensive program that covers morphology, fluency, and comprehension.
Its certification process is deep and wide and comes with a steep learning curve, backed by research and understanding around the science of reading. It equips educators with all the tools, materials, and knowledge to meet learners where they are and make a permanent changes to the course of their lives. Students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities who attended our program grew an average of 1.7-grade levels of reading in one school year due to the effectiveness of this program.
AV: How does the Wilson program work?
KF: Every Wilson lesson plan follows the same structure, which is super nice for educators and students alike. The rhythm is consistent, and students know what to expect every step of the way. Wilson breaks down the journey of learning how to read and spell proficiently into a 12-Step program.
We recommend that all students who begin the Wilson journey commit at least through Step 6 so that they are exposed to every syllable-type that makes up the words we read and write in the English language. It’s a mastery-based program, which means that we make sure kids have mastered each concept before introducing the next one. Everything builds on each other in a way that is logical and clear. Students track their progress and know exactly what they need to do to get to the next level. Full lessons have ten parts and run anywhere from 60-90 minutes.
AV: Why does Wilson work, in your opinion?
KF: Wilson works because it is so systematic and thorough in giving direct instruction on every skill, building on the mastery of one concept to the next one in a logical way. We know that individuals with dyslexia and other literacy-based learning struggles need so many more exposures to a concept for it to stick, and Wilson does an exceptional job of building review into every lesson. It works because it holds educators accountable for remembering to incorporate all the vital components of structured literacy intervention into every 60- or 90-minute session, and putting the materials right in their hands to do so.
AV: What are the typical results?
KF: Redwood students increased their reading ability an average of 1.4-grade levels across one year of attendance and 2.8-grade levels across two years of participation.
AV: What makes Redwood Literacy different from other similar programs?
KF: Redwood has a warm, family-like culture. All instruction takes place in groups of no more than five students per instructor. We are optimistic and believe in the capabilities of ALL children to learn how to read and write proficiently and are committed to working with each student to find their full potential. We are creative, outside-the-box thinkers, and are continually problem-solving to figure out the best way to support each student.
AV: All of that aligns with Alcuin in every way! What would a typical Redwood Literacy at Alcuin day look like?
KF: Students will begin with a whole-group morning meeting where our instructors focus on building self-confidence and deep self-understanding of each student as a learner. Then, students will rotate through a full Wilson lesson plan, a Core Knowledge and Writing block, and a math block. All instruction takes place in 20-30-minute stations with movement breaks. The afternoons would feature lunch, recess and enrichment such as art, theater, and gym.
AV: What kind of testing do you do in your initial screening?
KF: All new-to-Redwood students begin with a placement consultation. Our placement consultation includes a WIST test, which measures your child’s phonemic awareness and phonics abilities, as well as the BAS, which provides a current grade level equivalent for your child’s reading level. We also have an option to add on an additional dyslexia screener.
AV: What are the student/teacher ratios?
KF: Our small group instruction happens in no more than five students to one instructor, with most group work happening in groups of three.
AV: What about the subjects beyond reading?
KF: We use Bridges Intervention and Chris Woodin materials for our math instruction. We use The Writing Revolution for our written expression instruction. And, we will also have a Core Knowledge block that rotates between social studies and science content. Building strong and varied background knowledge in students is vital for their holistic growth as learners, as well as their ability to comprehend a wide variety of texts.
AV: How long do students generally need the program?
KF: Research shows that most students benefit from 2-3 years of intensive intervention, although every student is different.
AV: Is kindergarten too young to start someone in a program like this?
KF: It’s NEVER too young to start your child on their reading and writing journey. The earlier you intervene and provide the right level of support, the shorter the time it takes to remediate what needs to be remediated to get your child on track!
AV: Thanks, Kait.
Put into the hands of an empathetic and passionate instructor, Wilson, and Redwood Literacy at Alcuin, empowers teachers and students alike to close gaps in reading and writing in ways that have felt impossible before.
Come and discover Redwood Literacy at Alcuin. Virtual admissions, tours, and assessments for the program, which will begin in the fall 2020 school year, are currently taking place. For more information on programs, tuition, and the admissions process, please visit www.alcuin.org.
A blog by various Alcuin staff members.