The ALFA Lab at the high school level and the Savvy Readers Lab and Computer and Team-Assisted Math Acceleration (CATAMA) lab in the middle grades relieve the pressure on teachers to slow down teaching in heterogeneous classes because they know that students who need intensive extra help will receive it in the labs. Each lab provides computer-assisted instruction within a structured cooperative learning setting that students receive in addition to their regular English and math courses.
Students who enter the ninth grade four or more years below grade enroll in the ALFA (Accelerated Literacy for Adolescents) lab, an intensive triple-dose course. A teacher and lab assistant work with a maximum of 20 students per class. Each student is assigned to a team of peers with similar strengths and weaknesses in reading. During the 90-minute block, teams rotate through four learning stations: the Main Station, for guided reading sessions with teacher modeling; a Wordology (vocabulary) station; Comprehension Connection; and Media Madness (computer-based practice).
The Savvy Readers’ Lab is an elective course (at approximately half the normal class size) for 10 or 20 weeks providing students a substantial “extra dose” of intensive personalized instruction in addition to their regular ELA class. The Savvy Readers’ Lab helps struggling students become independent readers through instruction in strategic reading, practice of reading strategies, rotation of learning centers, and coaching and in-class support for the SR lab teacher.