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Five years ago we noticed that our reading scores were remaining very poor. Our school is in a rural setting in Kentucky, and we decided to take action. We began to offer a reading literacy class for incoming freshmen who were reading below grade level. I taught the class for four years, and the first thing I noticed was that the kids all came in saying, "I hate to read. I don't want reading class. Change my schedule." The class had to begin being all about relationships. We learned about each other's likes, dislikes, hobbies, and even the food we loved. In fact, our Fridays were about food celebrations, if we had met our reading goals for the weeks. I began focusing on comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency mainly. The passages I used for comprehension were individually tailored to the student's hobbies and enjoyment. We used the Great Leaps program for fluency, because I wanted them to be able to read aloud in their other classes without embarrassment. Vocabulary was so important. I realized this when one of my students did not know the word "labor" meant the same as the word "work". We did extensive root word, prefix, suffix, synonym, and antonym study. These kids were the at-risk kids for dropout. Offering this class has decreased our dropout rate, and our reading scores have increased 32 points! More importantly, I see those kids in the hallways, as upperclassmen, and they talk with me about what they are reading. I have taught honors classes, and I love doing that, but my largest reward by far has been seeing these kids become readers. Three of the former students from this class received college scholarships last year!

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Comment by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro on December 3, 2009 at 7:43pm
Congratulations!!!! This is a great story. Have you convinced the students who have been really successful to serve as a mentor to others? Ron
Comment by Scott Habeeb on December 3, 2009 at 3:55pm
Thanks for sharing this success with us. I hope others on The Network will benefit by reading it. Have you all used MAP tests?

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