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Wednesday Reading Club Begins at Ball Elementary

Teachers are always looking for ways to increase reading fluency and comprehension with their struggling students. Ball Elementary is piloting a new program to do just that.

It’s called the “Wednesday Reading Club,” and it utilizes six paraprofessionals who are already on site to meet with small groups of second graders for approximately 45 minutes. The club is a pilot program at this point, and is directed by the school’s Reading Interventionists, Aimee Sutton and Joann Vose. “We decided - collectively - to focus on second graders,” says Aimee. “They’re at a critical point in their learning, so we wanted to bring another layer of reading intervention where it’s most needed.”

The club is the brainchild of BES Assistant Principal, Holly Rembusch. “Teachers are receiving great professional development during that block of time after school on early-release Wednesdays,” says Holly. “But I wondered if we could be utilizing our parapros’ skills and familiarity with students during that time to add another layer of support for our struggling readers.”

After discussion with the school’s parapros, reading interventionists, and teachers, mapping out the curriculum, and providing training, the program took off.

The two reading interventionists developed the curriculum using English/Language Arts resources and materials that have been used in the students’ classes. “The idea is to reinforce what the students have already seen and worked on in class,” says Aimee. “We didn’t want to throw something totally new at them. We are working on building and strengthening their skills, while reinforcing what’s been presented earlier in the day, the week, or even in the past few months.”

Joann added that the reading club is not being used for any sort of formal assessments. “We want our kids to learn while having fun in this club,” she says. “Student progress is monitored throughout the regular school day by their regular classroom teachers.”

The kids work in small groups, along with the parapro leader. They first work on “instant words”-- words that they read and listen to as they read out loud. Then they use the instant words in phrases using the same reading/listening techniques. From there, they integrate them into a story. After the story, the students can answer questions about it and write what they think the story was about, and what happens next in the story. Finally, students take worksheets from the activity to practice at home.

A commitment from parents

Besides identifying students who they thought would benefit from the program, the school had to get permission from the parents, and ensure that they would be able to pick their child up, or designate a family member or friend to do so. “It really is a commitment on our parents’ part,” says Holly. “They have to make sure their child is picked up each Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. until the end of April.” Holly was excited by the overwhelmingly positive responses by parents. “Nearly every one of them was on board with trying the program, and appreciative that their child was getting this extra layer of support.”

Measuring success

The success of the Wednesday Reading Club will be measured in multiple ways, but first and foremost in their students’ confidence and academic gains. The school will also be looking at the end of the year universal data, class notes, as well as parent feedback.