Stride Ahead FAQs
Question: How old do students need to be before commencing Stride Ahead?
Answer: Stride Ahead is more suitable for older students, usually secondary school students or adults. However, some primary schools also use it in years 5 and 6 (age 10 or 11 years old).
Question: Why is a timer necessary with Stride Ahead?
Answer: 'Automaticity' is the keyword here.
Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required. This enables a student's thought processes to become an automatic response pattern or habit.
Only when a student achieves automaticity in the decoding process when reading can fully focus on text meaning.
Timed practice is the best way to achieve automaticity. Effectively, Stride Ahead is a structured series of timing targets.
A useful aid here is to use the stopwatch function that all mobile or cellular phones now have.
Question: How long does it take to complete Stride Ahead ?
Answer: The length of time necessary to finish the manual depends very much on the severity of the student's reading problem.
As a rough guideline, if a student studied Stride Ahead 30-minute every day, the average time to complete Stride Ahead would be 2-3 months.
Question: Why does Stride Ahead have 3 preliminary exercises?
Answer: Older students often resist starting with the absolute basics (letter sounds, etc) so Stride Ahead makes a few assumptions in terms of students’ prior knowledge. The 3 preliminary exercises ensure that the necessary skills to study Stride Ahead are in place.
Question: Why are ‘reinforcement pages’ included at the end of each part?
Answer: As is the case with Toe by Toe, reinforcement and over-learning of skills previously covered are essential features of the scheme.
Question: What should a tutor do if a student looks like they will never achieve the target time?
Answer: Provide students with an example of how to best approach the reading task.
Pass the stopwatch to your student so they can time you as you read.
They should track along the words and sentences with a finger at the same speed as you are reading.
This is an opportunity to demonstrate to a student that the timing targets do not require a rushed approach.
Read the text without haste and as naturally as possible.
The next time the student read there is almost always a huge improvement in both speed and accuracy.
To a large extent the timing targets in Stride Ahead are arbitrary. In essence, we have timed a 'normal' person reading the passage at 'normal' speed and then added a few seconds to come up with our target. Therefore, it does not really matter whether students are achieving the precise target.
The important thing is that they are getting intensive practice in accurate decoding. We are trying to make decoding as 'automatic' as possible.
As Diane McGuinness (a famous reading expert in California) points out:
"A good reader is only conscious of meaning. The print on the page is all but invisible.”
This is the ‘holy grail’ of reading. We are unlikely to get to this point with a severely dyslexic student but we can aim to get as close as possible.
So, if a student is struggling to reach a particular target (and showing real signs of frustration in the process), do the following:
It is perfectly acceptable to do a little discreet 'cheating' to help them get there!
You could start the stopwatch a little late or finish a little early!
The important thing is to do whatever it takes to keep students believing they CAN do this.
Just try to do any 'manipulating' discreetly so students remain unaware that they have 'failed' (as they might see it) in any reading task.
Inspire the students. Keep them 'on board' and believing they CAN succeed.
Remember, without their active co-operation, you will never teach anyone to read.
Question: Is it necessary to finish every exercise in Stride Ahead before moving on?
Answer: For motivational purposes, it is essential that students maintain a sense of momentum and progress. This is especially the case with teenagers.
For this reason, don't allow students to feel that they are getting ‘bogged down’.
If students are really struggling to meet a particular target, move on to the next exercise and come back to the stubborn problem later.
Every target should be met, BUT (and this is very important to remember) it is not necessary to reach every target time in sequence.
Far more important, indeed the most important thing is to make students feel that they are finally succeeding with what is – to them – a mysteriously difficult skill.
As a tutor, you are not going to succeed without the active co-operation of students. Inspire them and ensure they never lose heart.
Question: What are the extension sheets for?
Answer: It is essential that students practise their skills as they near the end of the book.
Certainly, by the time they have reached Part Four they should be reading something which matches their interests away from the scheme itself.
They should be able to appreciate that reading is not a chore, but something to do for entertainment as well as enlightenment.
The extension sheets simply provide essential practice in using their new-found skills.
It is a good idea to challenge them to see how many consecutive words they can read perfectly before stumbling.
Question: Why is Jabberwocky included in Stride Ahead?
Answer: We include Jabberwocky because students who have finished the Stride Ahead course will often be better able to read the poem than their non-dyslexic peers.
Non-dyslexic people are more likely to be unaware of the rules and skills Lewis Carroll applied when he wrote the poem.
Question: In 'Section C' of the exercises, do students have to achieve 13 seconds when reading each word in the list 3 times?
Answer: No. Students read each of the 9 words in the list once only.
Typically, they would begin with a 'benchmark time' of 20 seconds and make several mistakes and/or get tongue-tied.
This will quickly improve as they practise and most should achieve the target in about 5 or 6 attempts.
If they have problems with a particular word, there is no problem 'drilling' the word.
However, please insist that they track along the word with a finger as they read. This should ensure that they are decoding rather than trying to memorise the sound.
Memorisation is the coping strategy that we constantly fight against in Stride Ahead.
Why? Because it is often easier to try to memorise a word or phrase, rather than knuckle down to the more difficult process of decoding which is - of course - what we require.
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