Schools of Hope tutors are using a research based reading program called Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies or PALS. It was developed by Vanderbilt University about ten years ago and is being used in classrooms in Nashville, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Arizona and now at Yulupa. As developed, students are paired and one is the “coach” and one is the “player”. For Schools of Hope tutoring sessions, the tutor is the coach. In first grade, unless a student is new to Yulupa, they have done student paired PALS in class.
First Grade PALS emphasizes decoding skills and fluent reading by using Game Sheets that reinforce letter sounds, practice sounding out words, first by s-t-r-e-c-h-i-n-g the letter sounds in a word and then by sounding it out and saying it. Sight words are introduced and reinforced in each lesson and the last exercise is a short reading (the photos below are from a later version of the program than the one we are using).
The right hand column is the coach’s “script”. You can find out more about this program at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development.
Second graders at Yulupa are using advanced PALS:
The format is similar to the earlier PALS but the stretching exercise is replaced with more sight words and longer stories.
When I began to use the PALS program, I was a bit skeptical of the stretching exercise. But as the weeks progressed, I found that it helped the students blend the sounds of the letters into the word. Most of your students will know the letter sounds but have problems blending those sounds into words.