SarahDec. 15, 2015
This is our 5th year serving the first and second grade students at Wendell Phillips Elementary (KCPS).  We often mention our goal is to be a scaffolding or support for what the teachers are already doing in the classroom.  Today I wanted to share with you what one of the newest Lead to Read Phillips teachers is doing to engage Readers with her students.  Students & Readers spend their time intentionally divided into 10 minute sections.  Science reading for 10 minutes, reading book for 10 minutes and then a free book of choice for 10 minutes.  We think this is excellent!  Non-fiction is a hard piece for teachers to engage students in, so a perfect place to get Readers – who are anticipated each week – to simply spend a few minutes reading in this content area while asking the same comprehension questions as they would in a free reading book.  Additionally, when you have 20 students and 20 Readers engaging over free reading materials in a classroom each week over the course of the semester they can exhaust all the available material quickly.  Breaking apart that time, means they are reading to learn – which we LOVE and is the whole point!  Below are two email accountings of the success the students have found in this structure with the support of the Lead to Read Readers!
Yesterday, Ms. Wooten was bubbling with excitement at her students’ science test scores.  They were all above 80%.  I believe I understood her to say that their first science test was more around 10%.  She was so happy to show us her grade book, naming off each student and their A and B grades.  Normally, Ms. Wooten is all-business about transitioning the students and volunteers immediately into reading time.  Today, she spent a few minutes celebrating her kids and us.  She asked her kids how they knew so much about the science they tested on.  She mentioned one child’s response, “Oh, my reader and I talked all about it.”  When we read with her students, Ms. Wooten has them prepared with about 4 pages of science, a specific selection from their reading books, and then their free-choice book.  Though we are reading classwork for about 2/3 of our time, we focus on the reading and sharing.  We are free to stop and talk in a way I imagine is rare in the classroom setting.
This morning, in my journaling, I considered Story Land.  Yesterday, I sat cross-legged on the floor with two second-grade girls, enjoying the story that words brought into existence between us — laughing, learning, and relating.
A story creates common ground around which we can gather.  It is not concerned with our differences or lack of mutual life experience.  In itself it provides common ground.  It provides a safe place to be together, explore differences, share knowledge, and discover mutuality.
Another note I received:
We have been reading in the science books with Ms. Wooton’s class the past couple of weeks.  She wanted to tell you how much she appreciates this because for the first time in her 30 years of teaching, her kids almost all got 80% or more correct on the science test; some got 100% correct!    She told them how well they did and one child said it was because their reader explained it to him so well.  Today we just read books for fun.  I guess helping them read the science books was worthwhile!
 I included both accounts because I think there is the potential for Readers to wonder if their time is well spent, and I think this huge success is proof that it is very much making a difference!  If you’re not already reading with Lead to Read, consider joining this effort today.