Purposeful Practice Routines

“Success has to do with deliberate practice. Practice must be focused, determined, and in an environment where there’s feedback.” – Malcom Gladwell

The COVID pandemic caused significant learning loss for primary students across the nine Area Education Agencies. There is an increase in the number of children in grades one and two who did not meet the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST) screening benchmark between last spring and now. Our agencies feel the urgency to support students as they return to full-time learning. Therefore, as part of a collaborative effort between agencies, we co-developed and released a set of Purposeful Practices to accelerate student learning.

Purposeful Practice” routines differ from independent practice because they have specific and well-defined goals and are explicitly focused on certain skills. They allow students to engage in some productive struggle while mastering their learning. Also, specific and corrective feedback is an essential component of Purposeful Practice. 

When students are in classrooms where fewer than 60% of students met the winter benchmark, a classwide intervention is recommended by the Iowa Department of Education. Using classwide interventions, students receive their mandated instruction on grade-level content and intervention around foundational skills to accelerate learning. While the three literacy practices are specifically designed for primary grades, older students can benefit from them if their literacy skills lag behind those of their peers. 

Purposeful Practice areas of focus:

  • Transfer to Text routine – supports students who are applying phonics and word recognition skills in connected text. The tight connection between what children learn in phonics and what they read is essential for building a faster foundation in early reading.
  • Encoding and Decoding routine – supports students’ ability to hear sounds in words with orthographic mapping and builds accuracy and fluency in reading and spelling words with more than one syllable. Students must identify where to split words into syllables so they can read and spell them accurately.
  • Monitoring for Meaning routine – supports students with lagging broad reading skills such as reading rate, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension strategies when reading words in the text.

When students practice reading and writing with a purpose, we often see increased engagement and motivation with tasks. Students quickly master the skill and feel successful.

If you’d like support integrating the Purposeful Practice Routines into your instructional program, follow the link above. This learning is part of our On-Demand Learning System, or contact a literacy consultant.