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EARLY STEPS

Purpose: The Early Steps or sometimes referred to as the Howard Street Tutoring Program was
first developed by Darrell Morris. It was a one-on-one tutoring program designed to help
students in grades 1-3 who had fallen behind their grades or who were at the risk of failing.
Rationale: Early Steps was developed in collaboration with a partnership between National
Louis College faculty and a community group called, Good News Educational Workshop. The
goal of the program was to provide after school quality reading instruction to 2
nd
and 3
rd
grade
public school children who had fallen significantly behind their peers in reading. Early Steps
began with tutoring done by volunteers. The use of volunteers was perceived as the need to
address the lack of resources to meet the needs of children who lacked sufficient reading skills in
schools where they lack the appropriate resources. As time went on, the program extended and
became an intervention program during school hours.
The Early Steps Program assumes the following:
Children learn by reading.
Children need the support of good stories with syntactic and semantic characteristics of
natural versus artificial or contrived language.
Word study should play an important role minimally knowledge of the spelling patterns
of English (CVC, CVCe, CVVC).
I ntended Audience: For 1-3 graders who had fallen behind their peers in their reading abilities.
Students are selected to participate based upon spelling tests and an informal reading inventory
(IRI).
Description of the procedure: The amount of time for the tutoring session varies. When
working with younger students, a daily session is about 30 minutes long. After school tutoring
session is about 1 hour, 4 times a week. The activities vary in how they are implemented across
its components. The Early Steps is composed of the following 5 components:
1. Contextual Reading and the Childs Instructional Level first part of the lesson involves
the childs reading level and rereading leveled on well written books or stories. The
tutor supports reading by selecting pattern stories or by echo reading, where the tutor
and the child take turns reading. It is recommended that the lower grades avoid basals,
especially basals with stilted and artificial language. The duration for the contextual
reading varies from 8-10 minutes. Some may require 15-20 minutes for program with
extended time.

2. Word Study Depending on the needs of the child, it may begin with beginning
consonant elements, word families or rhyming words, and vowel patterns. At first,
begin with letter knowledge to consonant sounds to the most common word families.
During the first week, the tutor will put more emphasis on naming and writing letters,
then proceed to discriminating sounds with pictures as the child progresses. Next, the
tutor will move to word sorting through visual and auditory patterns. The child begins
with rhyming patterns and then progress to short and long vowel patterns. Students are
expected to demonstrate skills using word sorts and lists of word for these sorts.

Word Sort Youtube video link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjgUx7zSX14&list=PLfwV8xPTd5ksvqPPVtmfkWGKUarwYo
aWT

3. Writing In the writing activity, students are encouraged to write sentences or short
stories based on their interests and experiences. After a discussion of their experiences,
students will write, say words aloud as they write. The teacher is also encouraged to let
children write down letters and sounds they hear. Likewise, the teacher will put
emphasis on invented spelling. Spelling helps children to develop the skills for word
structure and speech sounds. For every two weeks, the tutor will let students choose
favorite pieces for editing. Sentence strips are recommended for younger students
where students are provided with sentence parts, and are expected to put the sentence
parts together. The duration for the writing activity is 5-15 minutes.

I nvented Spelling video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDlrJqX5_q4

4. Easy Contextual Reading In order for students to develop vocabulary, confidence,
interest, and fluency, children are given an opportunity to read easier material orally,
rereading favorite books and partner reading a new easy book. Reading is done by using
trade books and little book libraries. The time for the Easy Contextual Reading activity
is 10-15 minutes.

5. Reading to the Child and Introduce New Books For the after school tutoring program,
tutors will conclude lesson with reading a chapter from a book or reading a short book
such as fables or picture books. Sometimes, a tutor is recommended to introduce a new
book. He or she is also expected to prepare and encourage students to figure out
vocabularies. Students are also encouraged to reflect upon strategies while reading
prompts such as:
What can I do to figure out the word by myself?
What strategies might I use?
What is the word pattern?
Teachers will closely monitor students progress, identify each childs instructional level,
moving the child forward as he or she progresses. The tutor is responsible for informing
teachers of a childs progress.

Cautions and comments: The Early Steps Program was carefully developed based upon
research and feedback from prior implementation. It also stresses other elements emphasized by
other intervention programs such as, the need to engage students with meaningful text and
engage students using strategies in context and selected text selections. Based on further
research of the program, some students will make enough progress as much as the mainstream
while others will make slower progress. Volunteers for the Early Steps Program included
undergraduate students, retirees and homemakers. Tutors initially begin with actual teachers.
For the 1
st
3 sessions, a supervisor models teaching and prepares lesson for the tutor. After the
initial period, the supervisor continues to make lessons for the tutor.

Click on this link to read more about the Early Steps Intervention Program:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/building-best-learning-what-works-early-steps