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Meet The Mastermind Behind The Maloney Method

We’ve taught tons of clients with learning challenges how to read, spell and do math. How? We often use The Maloney Method curriculum –evidence-based programming that effectively and efficiently advances learners’ abilities.

What makes The Maloney Method programs stand out from many other reading, writing and math syllabuses is that they emphasize fluency. That means that students have to be accurate AND fast enough to move onto the next lesson. Fluency helps children maintain information over time!

We also have to point out that the curriculum changes the trajectory of learning. The Maloney Method accelerates learning, so kids not only catch up to their peers’ skills, they often surpass them.  It’s amazing!

We’re lucky enough to know the brilliant man behind the books and method. And we’d like to introduce you. Here’s a Q & A with Michael Maloney

Q: Please tell Kid Mechanix readers about how and why The Maloney Method was created.

A: The Maloney Method was created out of hope (and then frustration) with the Hastings County Board of Education between 1975–1979. As a behaviour management specialist, I was hired by the board to help teachers and principals deal with difficult students. My colleague, Eric Haughton, was hired at the same time. From our early days, Eric and I shared methods and strategies.
We were both trained behaviourists, but Eric was a specialist in Precision Teaching, a measurement and decision-making system created by his mentor, Ogden R. Lindsley at Kansas University. I was well-trained by Zig Engelmann of the University of Oregon in Direct Instruction, the best teaching system as evidenced by Project Follow Through, the largest comparative research project ever done.
Eric and I began combining Behaviour Analysis (to get kids in their seats), Direct Instruction (to teach them faster and more effectively so they could catch up) and Precision Teaching (to show their academic and/or behavioural progress on a daily basis). It was a marriage made in heaven, so to speak.
We had consistent success with virtually all of the students involved in the special education programs we established in the schools. But, unfortunately, as we began to have impact, others opposed the methods, despite their success. Due to “budget cuts,” we were let go; and in 1979, I started my first learning centre and began to formalize The Maloney Method as its curriculum. Sadly, Eric passed away from cancer three years later.

Q: Who benefits most from your reading, spelling and math programs?

A: Everyone benefits to some degree. The student is the obvious winner. The parent, who sees their child being successful at school and usually more happy and manageable, also wins. The teachers are definite winners, too, because now they have skillful students instead of ones with behaviour problems. The benefit of replacing any student’s inept or unacceptable behaviour with academic and personal skills runs through the entire system from the bus driver to the principal to upper management.

Q: We use your curriculum in our programs. Can parents also implement your materials to help their children learn at home?

A: Parents have two choices:  They can learn to teach their own child or they can become highly effective practice agents in support of their teachers, tutors and/or behaviour analysts who are using our programs.
At any given time I have several thousand homeschool parents using our programs to teach their children. I also have parents who practice with their child regularly for 20 minutes per night. The effect of good practice doubles the literacy rates of almost every student.

Q: For those who implement your programs, what are your tips for success?

A: As Bob Dylan admonishes us: “Know your song well before you start singing.” You have to know what you’re doing. (There are teaching tips on  my site to help.)
Learn to use the fluency checks. They are simple frequency counts of very specific behaviours (e.g. sounds or words in a list). You simply ask the student to read the list for 30 seconds. Count the corrects and errors and compare it to yesterday’s scores. If there is no improvement, it becomes clear.

Q: We hear you have a new and exciting venture in the works! Please tell us about the online version of your curriculums. When will it launch? Why are you creating it?

A: We are always looking for more effective tools. So we want to create our system as digital lessons that could be downloaded onto any personal device. That could effectively allow the student to complete lessons independently, making learning faster and more portable. The barrier is in the cost. I have expended my company’s resources to create, launch and distribute our 30+ books. Inventories are expensive to create and maintain, so I need to restore our development funds before I can proceed. As a result, the launch date is unknown. We are considering crowd funding as a possibility.

Q: You’ve been working with Shayna Gaunt. Fantastic! Please share about your partnership and why you decided to work together.

A: Shayna and I work with several clients who are benefitting from The Maloney Method. Like any good professional, we both seek out others to help and from whom we will receive help. We both are richer for the sharing of ideas and practices.