A clear understanding of the program will help ensure that you and your students derive maximum benefit from SRA Reading Laboratory's pedagogical design. SRA wishes to give special emphasis to these points at the outset so that they will not be overlooked.
SRA Reading Laboratory is a carefully structured system for teaching and developing essential skills and beneficial attitudes in an orderly and purposeful program. When treated as a regularly scheduled part of the classroom routine, the laboratory offers you an organized, systematic program that can significantly improve reading skills, study habits, and feelings of personal responsibility.
SRA Reading Laboratory is a flexible program that can be easily implemented to fit a variety of school calendars and schedules. One suggestion that has been proven effective is to use the program over a fairly concentrated period of time instead of being widely spaced across the entire school year. The recommended schedule calls for eight sessions (twenty to forty minutes long) spaced closely together during the training phase and then followed by a phase in which students use the program materials independently. When practice periods are kept close together, there is carryover learning from one day to the next. When practice periods are too far apart, carryover is lessened, and students tend to forget not only the information learned but even the procedures to follow.
It is not intended that every student work his or her way through all the Power Builders in a level or that a student work the Power Builders in strict sequence. Instead, a student selects (or is given)* Power Builders in random sequence from his or her assigned level; as soon as the student's scores show adequate progress, the student advances to the next color level. Thus, the number of Power Builders that any student will work in a particular level will vary according to his or her abilities and learning rate. A typical student should probably complete at least four Power Builders in a level; others may do eight or ten. Some students may require practice with all Power Builders in a level before moving on.
After the training phase, it is a good idea to begin holding weekly conferences with each student to review his or her progress. You are strongly encouraged to make these conferences mutual consultations in which you and the student decide together if it is time to move to a new level. Getting students accustomed to taking responsibility for their own learning progress is important if you are to realize the full potential of SRA Reading Laboratory as not just a builder of skills but of self-image and self-confidence as well.
* Although free choice of Power Builders by individuals is consistent with the laboratory's purpose and design, the procedure described later in this handbook eliminates individual choice to reduce the confusion resulting from traffic to and from the laboratory box. Student helpers or group leaders who hand out the Student Record Book can insert a Power Builder into each student's copy of the Student Record Book, giving each student any Power Builder that he pr she has not yet read in the assigned color level. (This is revealed by the Power Builder Chart on the back of the Student Record Book.) In this system, the group leaders also collect the materials at the end of the period, refile the Power Builders in the laboratory box, and store the copies of the Student Record Book in a central location. Whether to use this group-leader system or to let each student select his or her materials from the box is up to you.