The University of Florida Literacy Initiative: Tutoring for Beginning Readersprogram is designed to accelerate the literacy acquisition process for struggling beginning readers. Most tutees are first or second graders, and participation in UFLI tutoring helps close the achievement gap between them and their typically developing peers.
The UFLI session is divided into five steps. The session begins by reading books with which the student is already familiar. In the second step, the student reads the new book from the previous lesson while the tutor assesses how well the child is reading. In the third step, the tutor and student work together to write a sentence or two. The tutor introduces the student to a new book and coaches him as he reads the new book in step four. Finally, in step five, the tutor introduces the student to the multiple types of literature available (e.g., poetry, magazines, biography).
As students enter the UFLI program, most have extremely limited reading skills and know few, if any, reading strategies. The needs of an entering student, with so little incoming knowledge, are very different from the needs of a student who has received several weeks of effective tutoring.
In early tutoring sessions, the student begins to acquire the initial strategies he needs to move through text. After the student progresses through the first few book levels, he begins to build an understanding of the strategies he is using. Eventually, the student gains control of the strategies; that is, he becomes consciously aware of which strategies he is using and is able to apply them independently. To help the student progresses in the development of reading strategies, the focus of the instructor’s instruction must shift to meet the student’s immediate needs.
For empirical data supporting the use of UFLI with struggling beginning readers, see the following:
Lane, H. B., Pullen, P. C., Hudson, R. F., & Konold, T. R. (2009). Identifying essential components of a tutoring model for struggling beginning readers. Literacy Research and Instruction, 48, 277-297.