This month our Star School is Meden School, Nottinghamshire!
We spoke to Stephanie, who is the Lexia Lead at Meden School, and Emma, who supports Lexia sessions. They told us about the hugely successful launch of the program that they had this year.
How did you first come across the Lexia program and what led to the school’s final decision to purchase?
Stephanie: We came across it when we noticed from our termly reading tests that there was a large gap between where they were and where they should be. Our HLTA discovered the program and did some research into it. We then put a presentation forward to the Headteacher to tell them about the PowerUp program and that a certain amount of usage time has been proven to see results.
We started fully rolling it out in December as a trial to allow us to see if it worked. I was able to get enough data to prove to SLT that it was working really effectively with our students.
What do you feel makes Lexia stand apart from other reading skills software products on the market?
Stephanie: I think it is how interactive it is. Emma, who comes in and supports me 3-4 times a week, would also agree with me.
Emma: Yes. I also think as well, it’s the fact that it customises support to each individual student. It really is aimed at building their whole literacy skill set but in a really unique way that is designed just for them. I think that is fantastic skill that, even as teachers, sometimes we can find difficult to grasp and set those specific targets for students. The Lexia program does it for us which is amazing!
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.
S: We have 150 pupils from Years 7, 8 and 9 on the Lexia program now. They complete their 30 minutes, three times a week. Students who go on the program are determined by their reading test results that we run each term.
We split the students into small groups of about 10-12 so we can provide any support if needed. We have 3 groups of Year 7, 3 for Year 8 and 3 for Year 9 who all have timetabled slots for Lexia every week.
First thing in the morning, before the groups come in, I will log into myLexia and check who needs additional intervention, who needs Skill Builders and decide which students I will sit with as they work on the online program. Some of our students have SEN, so prefer to be actively working through the program with me supporting them side by side. We tend to offer differentiation in how we deliver the program depending on each individual child.
The Skill Builders are usually sent home as a homework activity so that we can include parents in the program. This helps us to encourage parents to sit down with them and be involved in their learning. It doesn’t always have to be a parent, a sibling can also help and get involved. We even joked that even the family dog could sit next to them while they do a skill builder! It’s all about building that independence and autonomy and not forcing the idea that it’s something ‘must do’ but something that can be helpful to them.
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?
S: I do a 4-weekly review of how the students are progressing. In my most recent review, it has showed that about 30% of pupils Year 7 have moved from the Foundational Levels to Intermediate. In Year 8 and 9 this figure was more like 34% that moved up into the Intermediate material. We have also just had our reading test results back in and as a result we have identified 12 students that can now come off the program and have caught up completely!
A couple of students I can think of started the program with their skills not even at Foundational level but are now working in the Advanced levels. Their progress has really flown since starting it even though they have had the same timetabled usage as the rest of the class!
How have you used rewards to motivate and celebrate success on the Lexia program?
S: I have created sticker charts for the student that have really encouraged students to interact with all aspects of the program. Some can be hesitant to complete some of the Grammar activities. So the sticker charts means that they have the chance, depending on the number of units and levels they complete, to get stickers, sweets and other incentives.
I have noticed that, since introducing the charts, they are completing more units because they have that incentive. The outcome at the end is that they get a school trip or something like a pizza afternoon near the end of term.
We have found this has really helped keep them motivated because it can be hard to keep up 3 30-minutes session every week so its been really good to offer both smaller and larger rewards. I didn’t think sticker charts would work so well but the love getting a sticker!
Of course, we have also folded the Lexia program into our wider school rewards system as well. They get Golden Tickets when they do particularly well, and the top achieving students will go on the reward trips at the end of the year whether it be a cinema trip, bowling or the theatre. We do all sorts!
We also share success with parents by sending home postcards. We can write on those small successes such as they have met their usage targets or have gotten to the next level. This really keeps parents involved.
How useful have you found the myLexia reports in terms of demonstrating progression and informing planning?
S: The reports are amazing! We both use it and the information it gives is to the finest detail. It has got everything you could need. The best thing for me is how it flags up what the students are struggling with. Some of our students aren’t the most confident in asking for help. It really helps to know which students might be needing some additional support so we can be more proactive in approaching them before they leave it too long without asking for help.
The usage reports have been very helpful to tell us who how many minutes students have achieved overall as well as the skills reports to see how everyone is progressing. I can print these out individually and as a group to help me use these as a comparison as well. They are very comprehensive and helpful!
How have you expanded Lexia into home-use? How have parents responded?
S: While we haven’t yet rolled out home use, we have been able to send home the parent specific myLexia reports. This helps the parents see the progress and see specifically how their children are doing and what skills they are working on.
So far, we have sent the Skill Builders home which have been great to promote self-regulated learning at home. We would be interested in finding out more on how they can access Lexia from home, and this could definitely be a way we could develop the use of the program further.
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.
E: The way it is moulded to each student is what I find so fantastic about Lexia. We have lots of students using it but they are all at different points on it, so we are assured that they are working at the appropriate level for them.
S: Something that I have noted is the videos. I can see the kids chuckling at them and they are really engaged with it. All the rap, poetry and songs within the videos, they seem to like it and respond really well to it. Those are the main things; it engages them but it’s also personal to each student which I think they like as well because it’s much better that always doing paper and pencil activities.
They do get really involved; I can see one student in the room with us right now bobbing her head to something, so I know she’s engaged!
What feedback have you had from your Lexia pupils?
S: We have some students working on Lexia with us now, would you like some live feedback?
Stephanie chooses 3 students in the classroom to give some feedback:
Student 1: “I like Lexia because it helps me learn what nouns and pronouns are and it helps me use grammar in my lessons.”
Student 2: “I think Lexia has helped me with my spelling because before I couldn’t spell some specific words but now I can spell some words that I didn’t know how to spell before.”
Student 3: “Lexia helps me do better in English and spell words better in my lessons. It also helps with my grammar and I understand where commas go a bit better now.”
S: There you go!
A huge thank you to Stephanie, Emma and their Lexia students for speaking with us and for implementing the PowerUp program so well in their school!