Area schools collaborate in Reading First program
from: firstname.lastname@example.orgBy Tanya Berkebile
Most people would agree that receiving effective reading instruction in the early grade levels is of critical importance. Marion and Mesick schools are attempting to establish higher-quality reading levels for their students by participating in a program called Reading First.
Reading First is a new program that was established through the No Child Left Behind Act. The program is aimed at helping children become successful readers by using a scientifically-based reading program for children in kindergarten through third grade.
This is the first year Reading First has been used for both Marion and Mesick, and both literacy coaches said they are happy with how the program is going.
"Being a new program, it is a lot of work," said Patricia Apfel, Marion reading coach. "But we are very happy at this point and the students seem to like it. Things are going well."
Louise Haines, Mesick literacy coach, agreed.
"It is going pretty well so far, but it is hard because we are learning a new program," Haines said. "It is definitely more testing than we've ever done before."
Every day, students partake in a 90-minute literacy block where there is uninterrupted learning. There are even signs on the door saying, "Please do not disturb."
"These 90 minutes are uninterrupted - there is no recess, no break. The students just learn," Haines said.
The five core early reading skills taught during these daily blocks of time are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehensive.
The grant from Reading First also funds core reading material, with both schools choosing Harcourt, and testing materials such as DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills).
The first DIBELS testing took place at the beginning of the school year and the next round of testing will take place at the end of this month.
"We did the first screening in September and are pretty excited to see how the students progressed with the upcoming test," Apfel said. "After that we'll know more about what kind of growth took place."
Although Haines and Apfel received the same training, the two talk and share what is going on in the classrooms often. They even go to the other school on occasion to observe.
"It is nice that we can collaborate and visit each other to see what the other school is doing," Apfel said, "We are required to have 30 hours of professional development and we spend some of that time with Mesick.
"I think that it is a positive thing for us to work together. It is great for our communities and schools."
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