SCHOOLS: Around the Schools
School starts 'Northgate Reads' summer reading program
How do you get students to read over the summer? How do we get our kids to read at grade level by the end of third grade? One local elementary school might have the answer. They piloted the 2012 Summer Reading and Enrichment Program sponsored by the City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools.
The program, known as “Northgate Reads,” took place at Northgate Elementary School under the supervision of Principal Stan Jaskot, Site Directors Nick Adams and Jennie Morrison. It ran from June 25 through Aug. 2 and included reading instruction, enrichment activities, a parent program, field trips and meals. This summer 33 students participated in the Monday through Thursday program.
On a typical day, students arrived at 8 a.m. for breakfast. Following that, they received three hours of reading instruction broken up with a 15 minute “energy break” similar to P.E. They had a half hour for lunch and an hour and a half for enrichment time. The day ended at 2 p.m. except on Thursdays when field trips ended at 3.
Prior to beginning the program, all students were tested to determine their “just right” reading levels according to their MAP scores. Once established, students were placed into one of two classes. They worked at “learning stations” scattered around the rooms. Some kids worked in small groups while others listened to books on tape and read along. Another group of students even played literacy games on I-Pods.
The two classroom teachers were Nicole Rogers, teaching the kids going into third grade and Caryl Campbell, teaching the kids going into second grade.
“It really feels like a family,” said Rogers. “It’s the combination of the city, neighborhoods, schools and parents. It also allows us, as instructors, to really individualize our instruction.”
Enrichment activities were divided into two categories. Weeks one through three focused on environmental learning supplemented by visiting a P-Patch and learning to put together emergency preparedness kits. Weeks four through six focused on dance and fitness led by Inspired Child and the Austin Foundation. The students even learned the dance to “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson.
During all of the field trips, students completed specific reading activities. They visited places including City Hall, Discovery Park, Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium. On the trip to City Hall, some groups had the opportunity to meet Mayor Mike McGinn, and all the students met Councilwoman Jean Godden. Things culminated with a BBQ on the last day for all the kids and parent volunteers.
Part of what made the program so exciting was the amount of parent involvement. Each Thursday Northgate held “Parent Learning Groups” during which time parents received training on how to play literacy games with the kids. Games such as Site Word Bingo, Memory, Roll and Write Word Game and Conversation Box aim to teach kids decoding, phonics, fluency and model how to utilize other reading skills. Those who took part acquired valuable tips and materials to use at home.
The program was developed as part of the City of Seattle – Mayor’s Youth & Families Initiative, with involvement by Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Solid Ground, Seattle Human Services, Seattle Public Library, Americorps, Seattle’s Families & Education Levy, Seattle Public Schools and Engage Seattle.
Northgate Elementary School would love to see the program adopted district-wide in the coming years, as long as they get to take part!
Photo by Rachel Sanyal / Seattle Public Schools
A volunteer assists a Northgate Reads program student