We all know the importance of children having a strong foundation in reading. In many cases, the cause of students struggling academically in middle and high school can be traced back to their reading success in elementary school.
We have placed a high priority on having each of our K-2 students reading on grade level by the time they are in third grade in the year 2020. To meet this goal, we have implemented several programs in kindergarten, first and second grades.
We have introduced a new literacy program through the American Reading Company which focuses on individualizing literacy instruction for every K-2 student. Teachers are working with their students, tracking their literacy progress, and introducing literacy strategies to move students from where they are to where they need to be. The program incorporates more non-fiction reading, as well as writing, to ensure students are covering all the components of literacy.
We kicked-off the new reading program with a campaign to get them excited about reading. We placed banners in the schools announcing Reading is my SuperPower!
Who doesn’t love super heroes? We want our students to realize the impact and power of being a good reader. The schools have taken this theme further with the building administrators becoming “caped crusaders” and the students earning their own capes as they meet certain benchmarks.
We also started a “Reading Across Isle of Wight County” activity with our K-2 students. Big banners with a map of the county and all 9 schools are hanging in Carrollton, Carrsville, Hardy and Windsor elementary schools.
Students record the number of books they read during the nine weeks. A certain number of books equals “steps” on the map. They map their journey throughout the year to all the schools in the division. When the students reach a school, they get to see a special video from the administrator of that school welcoming them and congratulating them on all of their hard work. We love to celebrate our students’ accomplishments!
Another important part of developing student literacy is providing students opportunities to hear books read to them. We know there can be a great disparity regarding children being read to outside of school. To emphasize the importance of reading, all Central Office employees serve as Reading Buddies to several students in kindergarten through second grade. Every week, each staff member meets with their students for 30 minutes and spends time building a positive relationship by reading to them. This is a commitment from every Central Office person—administrators, secretaries, technicians—everyone! Our actions show the importance we place on reading; it isn’t just lip service. To see pictures of our Reading Buddies, just click on the Reading Buddies link below.
Since we started our focus on reading in the fall, we are already seeing a different culture throughout our schools. Students are excited; teachers are excited; there’s a whole new energy in the schools. Even our students' families are reading with their children for 30 minutes each night. But the real test will be seeing our students become accomplished readers. We owe it to them to ensure they receive the necessary foundation to prepare them to be college, career and life ready.