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Teacher Spotlight: Jill Kersh

In this Teacher Spotlight, Collaborative Classroom is honored to feature reading interventionist Jill Kersh from the Keller Independent School District in Keller, Texas.

Tell us a little about your school/district and the students that you serve.

I am currently a Reading Interventionist at Eagle Ridge Elementary in the Keller Independent School District in Keller, Texas. I work with students who need explicit phonics and reading instruction in order to accelerate their learning to grade-level performance.

How does the SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words) program fit into your work?

I have had the pleasure of implementing SIPPS during my nine years as an interventionist. Working with at-risk developing readers has allowed me to utilize every level of SIPPS, from Beginning to Challenge.

Texas recently passed legislation to ensure that all K–3 students receive instruction that is fully aligned with the science of teaching reading. How do you see SIPPS supporting this work?

While all students receive robust, rigorous phonics instruction in my district, not one program or method works for every student. I see SIPPS as another avenue to explore in order to deliver the “right instruction at the right time” that some students may require in order to be successful readers. The structure, pacing, and routines that SIPPS utilizes can be just the winning combination for many developing readers.

What do you appreciate about SIPPS?

The systematic, explicit scope and sequence of SIPPS provides layer upon layer of scaffolds for readers. New sounds and words are thoughtfully introduced, reviewed repetitiously, and supported with text. Readers are provided with multiple opportunities for success, and educators are given rich resources for instruction and assessment.

“The systematic, explicit scope and sequence of SIPPS provides layer upon layer of scaffolds for readers. New sounds and words are thoughtfully introduced, reviewed repetitiously, and supported with text. Readers are provided with multiple opportunities for success, and educators are given rich resources for instruction and assessment.”

What have you noticed about your students’ learning and engagement?

Students respond enthusiastically to the predictable lesson format. The cues that SIPPS provides encourage students to respond in a safe environment. Feedback is given to students in a caring, supportive method that does not put individual students “on the spot.” Readers who have struggled in the past are provided new ways to unlock the code of language as well as build capacity for fluency and comprehension, which builds confidence and success!

How has SIPPS impacted your own instruction and learning?

SIPPS has strengthened my knowledge of phonological awareness and phonics. I understand the stages of reading skill acquisition in greater depth than ever before. Using SIPPS has allowed me to sharpen my skills of knowing when to focus in to provide greater support for students and when to pull back on support so that my readers have more opportunity to utilize learned strategies.

What advice would you give to an educator who is new to SIPPS?

Educators new to SIPPS need to trust the process. When the program is used with enthusiasm, students achieve success with SIPPS at an accelerated rate of learning. Give your students opportunities to practice the routines, give yourself grace as you learn and find your new comfort zone, and you will be amazed by the results.

Be sure to remember to “bring the fun” while implementing the program. Joy for learning is contagious. If you are enthusiastic about the opportunities that SIPPS provides for student success, your readers will soar!

 

To learn more about how SIPPS aligns with the science of teaching reading, we invite you to read this interview with renowned literacy researcher Dr. Louisa Moats.