What’s Your Child Reading?

WDMCS elementary students will have a few new books to read next year after a proposal by the district’s Teaching and Learning Services department was approved by the school board April 8.

After nearly eight months of research, district administrators along with a committee of 30 teachers are excited to adopt new reading materials for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The proposal was part of the district’s regular review of curriculum to make sure materials used for learning are up to date and meet the needs of students.

The group started their work this fall by asking teachers what they need to help students become proficient readers.

Teachers from across the district said they want a variety of books readily available that target students’ needs. “Not every student in our classrooms are reading at the same level, so we have to make sure we can meet the needs of the whole span in our classroom and our grade level,” said Fairmeadow Elementary kindergarten teacher Paula Olson, who was part of the committee. For example, a fourth grade student learning the English language for the first time needs different reading materials than a fourth grader who is reading at the 10th grade level.

Olson said teachers are also looking for a balance between fiction and nonfiction books and they want a fully cohesive system of materials, not just one that focuses one area such as reading fluency.

The group went even further.

The teachers also studied the Iowa Core, which is a set of state standards that outline what Iowa students must know and be able to do in the area of literacy. Their goal was to select a collection of books and materials that would help students meet these standards.

They also researched the best practices used to teach reading. These include working with an entire class on a mini-lesson and having a strategy-based read aloud.  It also involves students working in small groups at their reading level. “It is very important especially at the elementary age that we have time to meet every day with students at their level in small group instruction,” explained Crestview Elementary third grade teacher Adam Nidey. During small group time, students can meet one on one with teachers, read or write independently or practice word skills.

The group initially looked at 11 different reading material programs. They narrowed their selection and invited teachers from across the district to review the materials and provide their input. The group then took field trips, visiting school districts using the materials being considered.

The teachers provided an update to the school board in January about their work. On Monday, April 8, the WDMCS school board will review the results of the teachers’ research and the recommended proposal for new materials during a workshop session beginning at 5:15 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center.


Tips to Helping Your Child Become a Better Reader

  1. READ! Like learning to swim or riding a bike, spending time reading  – or practicing the activity – is essential to improving proficiency.
  2. Get the Right Book. Selecting the right book for your child’s reading level is helpful in keeping them motivated.  If a book is too easy, a student may not be challenged and lose interest. If a book is too hard, a student may become frustrated and discouraged.
  3. Learn and practice new vocabulary words.  Vocabulary is one of the keys to reading well.