Students rewarded for first quarter reading by M. Jill Sundstrom The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.
� Elizabeth Hardwick
As Elizabeth Hardwick recognizes the importance of reading, so do the teachers of Austin School.
So far this year, the 280 kindergarten, first- and second-grade students have logged 107,849 minutes of outside reading by participating in �Unplugged,� the home-reading program involving both parents and kids. As a result, Mark Upward, assistant elementary principal, went to work at the popcorn popper Oct. 29 to make snacks to reward the students for their reading efforts during the first nine weeks of school.
�When calculated out, the kids have put in 1,797 and a half hours of outside-of-school reading,� Upward said. �That equates to about 75 days.�
�Unplugged� isn�t the only reading program at Austin School. Reading Recovery, a nationally known program, is designed to help first-graders with reading. Teachers work one-on-one with students who need help with reading for 30 minutes each day. In addition, teachers also have 30 minutes per day to prepare for their students.
�That means each student in Reading Recovery actually gets one hour of time each day from that teacher,� Upward said.
Reading Recovery has been in place at Austin for three years.
For 45 minutes each day, first- and second-grade students are involved in Reading Roundup. The classes are divided into 13 groups each, according to reading ability.
�The students receive reading instruction at their level, so each child can become successful in reading every day,� Upward said.
This is the second year for Reading Roundup at Austin.
�Unplugged� is the result of the realization that Austin�s literacy program did not involve parents. Students take books home, unplug their televisions, Nintendo or Sega games, and are either read to by a parent or read the book to their parents. In a journal, they document their reading time, then draw a picture about the book or write their own story relative to the book.
This year�s first nine-week goal was 25,000 minutes of reading in the �Unplugged� program. They surpassed the goal by 82,849 minutes.