This month our School Spotlight is on is City of Peterborough. We spoke with Karen and Rosie who coordinate and run the Lexia program with their Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils. They share their thoughts on how they have implemented Lexia so well and why they enjoy using it in school.
How did you first come across the Lexia program and what led to the school’s final decision to purchase?
Karen: Literacy in the school has been low due to the demographic of the area that we are in, and we hadn’t really been able to focus on it as much as we wanted to. So, they appointed a new Literacy Lead who is a Senior Assistant Principal and also an English Teacher. She wanted a provision for the students that were just below where they needed to be.
We have looked into other programs, but they were more games-based. PowerUp gives you the reports and the breakdown of where students need help. We trialed it with these students for a while and then fully implemented it with this group at the start of September. It’s going really well so far and the Literacy Lead is really pleased.
What do you feel makes Lexia stand apart from other reading skills software products on the market?
Karen: I think it is engaging. The songs and videos raise the students’ eyebrows at first but when they get into it, they really enjoy it. We hear them repeating the songs and encouraging phrases in the classroom. They also like using the tips tool built into the PowerUp program to get some extra support. Some of the students don’t like asking for help so we are able to point out all the things in the program they can use before they get to the point of asking the teacher questions. They are getting really good at working independently now! If they can’t work through themselves, we notice this when we are checking their progress on myLexia and we can step in if we need to.
Rosie: I think one of the biggest highlights for the students and for us is having that immediate feedback. It’s one of the really great things about this program. Other programs that we were running before really didn’t have the same level of confirmation and praise that goes with PowerUp. Having that immediate ‘well done’ or ‘good job’ as well as the immediate step back and support to look at it a different way has been great to have in the moment. It makes a big difference to our students.
How is Lexia used in your school? Please provide details of your daily routine and how you ensure that you reach recommended usage as well as which pupils use the program in school.
Karen: Lexia has been set up for Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 students who have a standardised score between 85- 99, this means they are just below their actual reading age.
The students are timetabled to come out of one lesson a week in groups of no more than 12 students, so they have the best chance of focusing for the hour they are with me.
They come into the library and we use the space to spread out the laptops around the room with headphones. We also provide support sheets to students to promote independent learning. I have created definitions sheets and laminated them for the grammar section of the program, this is so the students have a visual aid. I have also printed and laminated the Lexia Powerup Anchor charts for more specific visual support for the students, these also encourage independent development as they are able to refer to the sheets before asking for help.
We have also made laminated log in cards from myLexia to help them get logged in quickly. They are colour-coded according to year group. We have our own Lexia registers so we are up to date with who has been to the Lexia sessions so it is a bit like a military operation!
How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?
Karen: I set the students targets and they get to win prizes from the “jar of dreams”. The students love the challenge of winning prizes and golden tickets which are part of the school’s reward system. In the jar is a selection of nice stationary and we also have some reading books the students can choose from.
We’ve had some specialised wristbands made with cheesy grammar slogans like ‘punctuation pro’ and ‘literacy legend’. They like those as well. We are trying our best to make it a positive experience to do literacy work.
How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?
Karen: The Lexia reports are very useful when we are seeing where they are struggling but also when we are working with students who have EHCPs. They have reviews each year to establish if they have met their targets so we have been able to print the reports off for the SEN department to help. They can use the reports to show that they are receiving the correct intervention and the progress they are making in those sessions as well as all the areas that they need more support in.
The English department and the teachers communicate with us and ask how pupils are doing with certain skills and we can also provide them with reports that they can use for their lessons as well.
We have regular meetings with the school’s Literacy Lead where we review student progress and address any concerns. We sit and decide whether the student needs additional support within the lesson, one-to-one support or a referral being put into our SEN department for more specialised interventions.
Describe the impact that Lexia has had on your pupils. Have you noticed a positive change in their motivation to succeed in literacy? Can you give an example of a Lexia success that sticks out to you?
Karen: In September, we had the students complete an NGRT reading test to select the students for the program and towards the end of February they completed a second to track progress. Out of 148 students 96 improved their reading age. This is fantastic, and we are very proud of our students and our Head of Literacy is putting a Lexia graduation pack together for the students who no longer need the support of Lexia.
Since purchasing Lexia, we have seen steady progression from the students accessing the interventions, they arrive to the lessons enthused and asking what their target is for the session.
We have also seen a rise in these same students coming into our library and looking for opportunities to read for leisure, we promote book reviews and reward well written and punctuated reviews.
How have you expanded Lexia into home-use?
Karen: Before the Summer and Christmas holidays, Rosie and I create Lexia packs to go home. It includes a certificate, a skill builder, an activity like a word search or Lexia Bingo, a reading book, bookmark and some stickers to promote literacy even when the students are not in school.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Please provide any personal comments on why you feel Lexia has been successful in your school.
Rosie: For me, I also teach English lessons with small groups especially pupils that have larger gaps in their knowledge. I have found it helpful to look through the Lexia resources for some of the skills that they might have missed in Primary or don’t have a basic grasp of when they are expected in lessons to perform at a higher level. It’s nice to have the Lexia resources in the English department that we can pull from for things like ‘simple sentence construction’ and revisiting the word types. Having those paper resources there help us bolster our own knowledge and help the students that may have missed these elements of the curriculum and bridging those gaps in their English lessons as well. There a so many resources. I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment where I have needed a certain resource and I’ve not been able to find it.
Karen: They are useful. We have laminated a lot of the Anchor Charts for when the students come across something that they are not sure on. Instead of them having the resources on screen, they can have the physical sheet in front of them. Everything is used!
Finally, what feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?
Rosie: We had a couple of students that, when they were retested, they had reached their expected reading age. We told them that they have graduated the program and that they would not need to attend sessions anymore and they had asked if they could continue coming to the sessions anyway, which was amazing to hear! They wanted to keep going and they wanted to keep improving. It was surprising but lovely!
Karen: It is always good to hear. They do love it. They are interested. Usually, I will take a look at the screen while they are working and see what levels they are all at to ensure that all move on from the foundation zone. The students are always asking for feedback of what strand they should do next so they can improve.