The construction of individual programmes - as pupils work
Apart from standardised reading and spelling tests to establish a baseline and allow for objective tracking of progress, the teacher simply starts teaching all the appropriate tracks on day one. Integrated assessment and teaching allows us to target changing needs at each interactive teaching point.
Tracks Literacy teaching is direct, interactive, structured and cumulative. It incorporates techniques that accelerate learning and make it effortless, and it has a problem-solving element.
Tracks Literacy is uniquely a multi-track programme. Each track is a separate way of teaching literacy and each track is structured and cumulative. Tracks are taught in parallel. The analogy of a jigsaw is used to describe the interaction of the tracks, and the development of literacy.
As a jigsaw progresses the task becomes easier. The same is true of the acquisition of literacy skills within Tracks. Pupils are more likely to make connections for themselves, as pupils without special needs do. 'Next pieces' increasingly require almost no time to identify and place. Pupils 'just know it'.
Given that the same material appears in different tracks, the pupils are increasingly likely to encounter whole sections of the jigsaw that they know, or partially know. This provides reinforcement, fills in any gaps and leads to spurts in development.
Based on the psychology of learning
Tracks Literacy is based on main-stream psychology. The structured, cumulative aspects of Tracks involve the use of different reinforcement rates - for different pupils, and at different points in their development. We make specific use of short-term, long-term and working memory and develop automaticity where appropriate. Perceptual learning has been part of Tracks since its outset.
We have indicators of cognitive overload, so some sessions will be extremely short, but frequent. We use a structured type of scaffolding and a reverse process we call the 'CD'. Our teaching includes elements of dynamic assessment, particularly in the Start Reading Words Track.
We see self-monitoring of progress as playing a vital part and, because we want our pupils to experience the excitement of being in control of the acquisition of new skills, informed decision-making when appropriate is part of the process.
Individual teaching in a group setting
The group provides a powerful model of how to learn. The way the group is organised allows pupils to focus solely on their own learning. Pupils only interact with the teacher and throughout each session they use record and interactive teaching booklets to monitor their own progress and, at times, make informed decisions about next steps.
Pupils who need time to process material are not pressurised because a teacher is waiting for them to respond, and almost every pupil who is used to the Tracks group will display 100% on-task behaviour. They rarely want to stop any activity.
A powerful effect of the group is that pupils learn a lot from the teacher's interactions with other pupils. Most of the cues we give are standard, so over time pupils often pick them up incidentally and use them automatically.