Linking the Science of Learning to the Art of Teaching

The Learning Model

TRADITIONAL READING INTERVENTIONS FOCUS ON THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS, BUT NOT ON THEIR RETENTION OR TRANSFER.

There is an approach to learning that has been proven to retain and transfer skills. It is called the Varied Practice Model (VPM). Access Code is the only reading intervention that utilizes this tested, proven learning model.

Unlike traditional approaches, the VPM highlights the critical relevant contrasts by varying contexts and tasks. The contrasts or the contexts highlight similarities and differences that help the learners develop the skills they need.

As a result, students can use these skills flexibly and automatically in varying contexts. This is critical for reading for fluency and comprehension. They must be able to automatically apply their knowledge and skills to new words and new contexts in connected text.

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This video example describes the application of the Varied Practice Model to the learning of motor skills. The same principles apply to the learning of reading skills.

The VPM in Access Code

Access Code's curriculum is organized around vowels/syllables (skills) and students work on these rules in single syllable words, phrases, and multi syllable words and across nearly two dozen reading-related tasks (contexts). The instruction and practice experiences students receive in Access Code help them develop the automatic word recognition and word attack skills that are necessary for increased reading fluency and comprehension.

Access Code differs from traditional approaches to skill learning that focus on the mastery of individual skills, usually through repetitive practice with little variation. It also differs from approaches to the teaching of reading that emphasize an immersion in language and print, which includes almost random variation. Within Access Code, students work within a systematic scope and sequence and an organized instructional design that provides an extensive, but carefully selected set of varied experiences with all of the rules of phonics.

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Articles About the Varied Practice Model

Cognitive neuroscientists at USC and UCLA, in a 2010 study, describe the neural basis for the paradox variable practice improves the brain's memory of most skills better than practice focused on a single task.

Dr. Robert Bjork of UCLA discusses the benefits of interleaving practice.

Researchers at the University of Iowa found that exposure to word variation for early readers may boost their reading abilities.

An overview of critical concepts that should govern the structure of skill-development experiences at sport practices. Varied Practice is highlighted as a key concept.

Varied Practice is identified as an important approach to take in developing staff in the workplace.

A New York Times article discussing an experiment involving the interleaving of math concepts.

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