One of the joys of education is seeing students successfully go from learning their ABCs to the art of reading and understanding. When the lights come on and a child says, “I can read this myself,” parents and teachers see the accomplishment of their endeavors and the true triumph of a small child. This achievement was made in part by the importance of our current reading teachers in our elementary schools.
Reading teachers use a simple but very effective idea called Guided Reading. This is a strategy of helping students by reading together in small groups of two to six children who are on the same level and needing work in similar reading areas. The objective is to enable students to read fluently using context clues and inference skills to help them understand unfamiliar text.
At Mountain Green Elementary School, as in any school, it is rare for classroom teachers to have sufficient time to work in small groups long enough to assist and support students. This is where our reading teachers and instructional reading aids fill the gap. Students come to them for about 30 minutes each day to work on specific skills that need to be addressed to prepare them for success. Students in this program move in and out of Guided Reading each week depending on what they need to learn and improve on.
Currently at Mountain Green Elementary, we have 125 students receiving extra help and support in small group Guided Reading. In these groups they learn reading strategies that help them read grade level texts. They learn how to ask themselves questions about what they are reading to develop a more thorough understanding of the reading material. Students are taught to think critically about the book they are reading and to use prior knowledge and life experience in understanding what they are reading about.
As an example of the success our reading and classroom teachers had this year, our second grade started the school year with 11 percent of the students at risk and needing intensive support. At the end of this year we are showing only 6 percent of our students needing intensive support. Still room to improve, but for those second grade students who made huge improvement gains, they are all smiles and confident that they can read and succeed.
Thanks to the hard work and commitment of our teachers, aids, students and parents, we can sustain and build upon the gains we’ve made for every student at Mountain Green and Morgan Elementary Schools.