In Smith School, Turning Point instructors are developing reading workshops in elementary and middle school classrooms to help encourage academic growth.
Students in the Turning Point program have a wide range of skill levels and may not be reading up to their grade level. The reading workshops’ curriculum is based on New York State learning standards and tailored to classes based on their ability.
“Often, students who come to Turning Point have become disconnected from their own education, they have come to believe that they are incapable,” Turning Point Elementary instructor Laura Havill said. “Particularly with reading in the elementary grades, this disinterest cuts off a key avenue to growth and learning.”
The reading workshops are designed to help students make academic progress by developing both reading ability and confidence. The workshop model includes read-alouds, independent reading time, targeted skill activities and one-on-one instruction with an adult. Students are taught to their performance level, but are also exposed to material from their grade level to help encourage growth.
“They are excited to grab a new book or discuss what they have read,” Laura Havill said. “The measurable growth that we have seen is encouraging. But, even more meaningful is hearing disenfranchised students talk about being readers.”
Elementary educators are working together with Middle School educators to develop a cohesive curriculum that aims to help students throughout their academic career. The workshops will also work to ease the transition for students as they move from the Elementary level into the Middle School level.
“Working closely with Jenn Gondek, Instructional Specialist for Inclusion, has been a wonderful opportunity to develop a curriculum that will meet the needs of our diverse learners,” said Turning Point Middle School instructor Joanne Gucwa. “Historically we have students who do not consider themselves readers or learners, and since we started to facilitate the reading workshop students have become more excited about reading and have become active participants in their learning and education.”