Summer school focuses on reading

By Nancy Gutierrez

On the third day of Summer School, Principal Charlynn Hughes and the staff working at Lincoln are making sure students who have been enrolled are where they are supposed to be.

This year summer school is held at one site, Lincoln Elementary School and is focusing on reading.

"We are focusing on reading because studies show that kids who leave first grade who are not competent readers, their failure rate doubles and even triples," Hughes said.

Administrators implemented two reading strategy programs, Reading Revolution for students in second through sixth grade and Fletcher's Place for kindergarten and first graders. There are also four bilingual classes with 103 students receiving instruction in Spanish.

There are close to 550 students enrolled in summer school with a staff of 86 classified and certificated staff and high school and college students.

Fletcher's Place:

A 1999 document prepared the U.S. Department of Education reports that, "Most children don't get special reading help until age 9 or later. This 'too little, too late' approach condemns three-quarters of these 9-year-olds to poor reading achievement throughout high school. As parents and teachers know, the more often young children fail in reading, the less motivated they are to continue struggling. This surrender can happen as early as the middle of first grade."

The Lindsay Unified School District is targeting kindergarten and first graders with Fletcher's Place, a learn-to-read program that teaches - not just phonics but all five reading skills including phonemic awareness and phonics, sounding out & spelling words, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Kindergarten and first grade students rotate in and out of the classes utilizing Fletcher's Place reading strategies and regular classrooms that practice a variety of reading skills. In Ruthie Sanchez' class students were reviewing letters and their sounds. Each class has approximately 10 students.

Reading Revolution:

The Reading Revolution system incorporates a wide spectrum of activities that enable students to succeed, no matter how they learn. These activities include kid-friendly, easily learned phonics tools, physical activities to reinforce sound and word recognition, a consistent way to sound out and spell complex words, interactive learning games and innovative comprehension strategies.

During the school day students in the Reading Revolution classes rotate through three different groups in addition to having a regular class time.

"In the morning close to 200 students are involved in reading revolution and the other 200 in regular class," said Jim Sullivan the migrant program director who is helping with the summer school program.

While students are in Reading Revolution they rotate in and out of three different groups; fluency and comprehension, sounds and words and a one-on-one or one-on-two session where students work individually with tutors.

In order to execute all of these activities the district interviewed and hired high school students to serve as tutors during the one on one sessions. The high school and college age students went through a training session to prepare for their summer school duties.

"They taught us the games that we would play with the students, how to work with the students and assess them," Sarah Perez said.

In the fluency and comprehension class students worked on reading comprehension and spelling. In the sounds and words group students applied symbols to letters to help remember their sounds. Then in the one-on-one rotation students practiced what they had learned in the other two classes by using them in games with the high school students. The games and activities create an exciting learning experience and increase retention of material.

After lunch these students moved into a traditional classroom setting and practiced oral language skills to develop English language fluency.

Sullivan said the Reading Revolution program is a different strategy for educating students that is utilized during summer school because of the flexibility in the school schedule. Constant rotation would be difficult during the regular school year.

This is the first time summer school has been concentrated at one site with a focus on one subject.

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