I’ve been told that it would be really helpful if people knew exactly what happens during a That Reading Thing lesson. The answer is “a lot” but I’ll give it my best shot.

There are 30 Levels in That Reading Thing followed by 20 Levels if needed. Every learner does every Level but works at a their own pace because teens and adults struggle with reading for all sorts of reasons. This means that two people might be at Level 25 but one will be reading quite fluently and the other still struggling. The point is that they’re both many steps ahead of where they started.

Levels 1-13 – The Foundations

Level 1 is the TRT word reading assessment. It is essentially a decoding exercise of real but unfamiliar words which start at ‘lot’ and become increasingly complex. The first two pages have single syllable words comprised of basic code sounds with the gradual addition of sh, ch, th, ck and ng. The third page of the assessment has multi-syllable words, the last three of which represent the advanced code. It’s rare for one of our learners to even attempt the last three words, and very common for our learners to come to a halt when they see the long basic code words.

For the rest of the Foundation Levels (2 – 13) learners are building, reading and spelling words out of context and then reading them in text. Building is simply spelling with visual clues available – a “sound chart” for single syllable words and puzzle pieces for multi-syllable words. Multi-syllable words appear in the first 20 minutes of the first lesson and learners are spelling ‘fantastic’ by the end of that first session.

foundation boards

In any one TRT Foundation session, the learner reads, writes on custom TRT dry erase boards, says sounds, moves sounds around and reads and discusses sentences. They are learning an automatic script for what to do when faced with an unfamiliar word. They are also having conversations about all sorts of topics – something that is key to developing both vocabulary and social skills.

The goal is to move from reading and spelling words like ‘sap’ and ‘fax’- words they’ve never seen before – to reading and spelling ‘instructions’ and ‘conditioning’ in 3 to 5 hours. This is possible because we continue to limit the code while introducing endings. We also apply The Deal throughout every lesson which means the learner never has to know anything that we haven’t done together – nothing. It’s in this environment of guaranteed safety that very reluctant learners manage to start saying sounds while they’re writing, and saying sounds and listening for a word they know while reading. They also discover that mistakes are fine – an opportunity to learn rather than a source of shame.

By the end of the Foundation Levels, the learner has developed confidence in word attack and is learning to track through long words from left to right and to actually read what’s in the middle rather than guessing badly. They’re learning to check meaning from context in sentences. (Note that this is different from creating meaning from context in sentences.)

The Advance Levels  14-30

From Level 14 to 30, the learner discovers both the complexity and the logic of the rest of the code. They are no longer intimidated by long words and they’re in the process of learning that reading right through an unfamiliar word is better than guessing when it comes to reading for meaning. With this in mind, they discover that English has symbols that Look the Same but Sound Different (sunny, try, yet, myth) and sounds that Sound the Same but Look Different (both, close, grow, coat, soul, toe, though)

boards 2

They discover this truth about the English code by sorting words on TRT boards and seeing the patterns of spelling and pronunciation from most to least common. They are also still building with puzzles and spelling – though, from this stage, spelling comes on slower than reading because of the memory it demands.

m-s spelling increasingly

At the Advanced Levels, reading becomes a much bigger part of the lesson. We encourage use of newspapers, magazines, short stories, non-fiction and even novels. The one requirement is that the reading material has to be something that our learner wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen carrying down the street.

If the students needs them, there are 20 more levels available at the tutor support site. However, by this point, most students need to be reading a great deal more and spending less time on TRT Levels.

If you want to experience the first topic of our online training for tutors, go here and pop in your name & email.