On Your Mark, Get Set…Read!
My name is Emelyn Cortes and I am the 7th grade English Arts teacher at KIPP Adelante. I am thrilled to share details on how blended learning is coming along at our school and impacting our students.
Recently, I worked with a group of seventh grade students on a remediation program that is boosting its reading confidence and reading fluency. We have three groups of seventh graders, twice a week, working on a reading program called Read Naturally. The group of students I work with have continuously struggled with their reading comprehension as well as with their writing. In January, our school started these reading remediation groups and since then, I have seen these particular students improve in their reading fluency- not to mention that now they aren’t afraid to raise their hands in class to read aloud! There are about 15 students in this Read Naturally class, each student reading at his or her own level and pace.
To begin, they all log-in to their account, put their headphones on, and start reading. My colleague and I work together to listen to each of them read aloud and check their summaries and answers to their reading comprehension questions. They love it when they get perfect marks and badges whenever they finish a story and move on to the next level. You look around the room and you see blue testing boards up and students with headphones just reading aloud and reading away. As they do that, my colleague and I move about the room as soon as we see a student’s “brown paper tent” on their monitor, which signifies that they are ready to read to us. There’s never a dull moment. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with them, especially when they all finish reading at the same time. For about an hour, my colleague and I are constantly on the move, stopping only to listen to a student read and then we are off again! Listening to a student read is the part I enjoy most. Some students read with such great expression and pacing that they could easily record their own book on tape- in this case, book on CD or mp3. There are students who try really hard to read fast to “beat the clock” and accumulate as many correct words as they can, but soon they realize that that doesn’t help them understand the text. At this point, many of them no longer do this, but I have to remind a couple of students that it’s not a race. At the end of class, not only do I come away with where students are in terms of their reading fluency progress, but I know a little more about M.C. Escher’s artwork, blue-tailed skinks, cacao trees, and Roger Bannister, the first person to run a sub-4 minute mile. The first few lines of the Roger Bannister article I’ve already committed to memory. Why? Because it’s so catchy and because many students read the first three lines with such expression that I’ve pretty much pegged this story as my favorite.