Column: Young WCS students diving into readingWORTHINGTON — As a first- and second-grade teacher at Worthington Christian School, I have the great joy of teaching students how to read. This can be a very rewarding and yet challenging task!
By: Pamela Schutt, Worthington Christian School, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As a first- and second-grade teacher at Worthington Christian School, I have the great joy of teaching students how to read. This can be a very rewarding and yet challenging task! About two years ago our school updated our reading curriculum to the Scott Foresman Reading Street series, a well-rounded curriculum that incorporates reading, phonics, spelling, vocabulary and writing into everyday activities.
The stories are divided into six different theme-based units with six stories in each unit. These themes include being responsible, dealing with changes, animal communities and exploring the world around you.
The curriculum is laid out in a way that is easy for teachers to use. Each story is divided into five lessons. Day one focuses on new vocabulary, sight words and phonics. Students are also introduced to elements such as character, setting, main idea, cause and effect, facts and details, or plot. One of the best parts about this curriculum is that if a student does not completely understand the element the first time it is taught, it is retaught to them later on in upcoming units.
On day two and three, students are introduced to the story. Each story comes from a different genre. Students are exposed to realistic fiction, fables, dramas, nonfiction and poems. They make predictions as they read, answer comprehension questions and make connections from the story to their own lives. The stories are interesting and the pictures are fun to look at! Students really enjoy learning new information as they read.
Day four polishes a student’s listening skills. They listen to stories read aloud to them and identify the elements that were taught on day one. They also have the opportunity to read another short story, complimenting what they read about earlier in the week. For example, if the previous story was about camping, this short story may give step-by-step instructions on how to make s’mores.
An assessment and wrap-up of the unit takes place on day five, reviewing vocabulary words and sight words. One of the highlights of our reading assessment is the comprehension section. Students are introduced to a brand new story they have never read before and answer the questions to it. This has really helped me determine whether my students truly comprehend what they read rather than just memorizing facts from the week’s story. Another highlight is the writing section. In this section students are assigned to read a certain page out of their reading books and then respond, in several complete sentences, to a question about it.
These assessments can be quite challenging for students at the beginning of our school year, but as the year progresses it is truly amazing to see how much their writing, comprehension and reading fluency improves! I have seen dramatic improvements in the writing and reading speed of my students, and I am convinced this is due, largely in part, to the quality and depth of our reading curriculum.
Sir Richard Steele was once quoted saying, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” What a blessing it is to have this opportunity to work with young children at Worthington Christian School as they exercise their minds to develop a lifelong skill and love of reading.