LAIRD'S READING PROGRAM IMPRESSES GUEST TEACHERS
Mar. 2 2007
Author: Georgann Yara, Special for The Republic Estimated printed pages: 2
Back home in Evansville, Ind., Carrie Hillyard is the curriculum facilitator at
Culver Elementary School.
But Tuesday at Tempe's Laird Elementary School, as Hillyard took notes during
third-grade teacher Nicolette Patterson's reading lesson, the teacher became the
Hillyard and two colleagues spent the day observing Laird teachers using Reading
First, a delivery system that uses non-traditional methods to teach reading.
Patterson taught her students to comprehend big words by breaking them down into
smaller, more familiar words. She also used America Online, or AOL, as an
example of an acronym.
"I like the focus on reading and the excitement from everyone, from the
principal to the students," Hillyard said.
Reading First lesson plans are more interactive and time-intensive, and rely on
the creativity of the instructor, educators said. Games, verbal exercises and
small-group work are part of the strategy.
The system's success also comes from the practical application of language and
showing students the use of words in everyday life instead of textbook drills.
The system is geared toward elementary schools that have lower reading levels
and serve a large number of economically disadvantaged students.
Laird is one of six Reading First schools in the Tempe Elementary School
District. The academic progress of its students since Laird implemented the
program four years ago was the reason it was selected as a demonstration site
for the Culver educators.
Culver teacher Jennifer Harpenau observed a second grade, where a student
spelled "paragraph" on a board using magnetic foam letters. She was impressed at
the lack of behavior problems she was accustomed to seeing, and that the
presence of English language learners was not audible.
"I didn't notice any of that," Harpenau said. "The kids responded in complete
sentences, not one-word answers."
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Chandler Republic
Index Terms: JUVENILE
Copyright (c) The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the
permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: pho165110281