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    Building Literacy Skills at Rainier View Elementary
    Posted on 11/19/2019
    A student sits at a desk with book in front of him while he smilies at the camera

    Building Literacy Skills at Rainier View Elementary

    From the moment you walk through the doors at Rainier View Elementary School, Seattle Public Schools’ southernmost school building, you know you’re in a special place. It’s a safe, welcoming environment where you often see a high-five or a friendly wave as you make your way down the halls. Not only do the students feel welcome — they go into class ready to build their literacy skills in powerful ways.

    One of the goals of Seattle Excellence, the district’s five-year strategic plan, is for all students to be reading at grade level by the 3rd grade, and Rainier View Elementary classrooms are already busy working on this goal.

    In Mrs. Parekh’s 3rd grade classroom, students read a story out loud together. Periodically, Mrs. Parekh asked students questions to help them think through what they just read.

    “Think about how this character is feeling,” Mrs. Parekh asked students. “Why are they feeling this way? Turn to your partner and tell them how the character is feeling at the beginning of the story.”

    After they finished the story, students read independently. While some students read quietly at their desks, others formed a small group to work with Ms. Dilly, the school’s academic intervention specialist. Ms. Dilly provides individualized support for students to build their literacy skills by discussing the meaning of words using context clues and taking additional time for students to work through a book or story.

    K-3 classrooms aren’t the only ones focused on building reading skills. In Mr. Dunn’s 4th grade classroom, literacy time began with reading out loud to students as they followed along. Every couple of pages, Mr. Dunn asked the class to discuss what they just read. Students turned and talked to each other about the questions like who they thought was telling the story and why, using hand gestures to show when they agreed with a classmate without interrupting.

    Like in Mrs. Parekh’s class, Mr. Dunn shifted some students to independent reading time and Ms. Dilly once again took a small group to work on their literacy skills. Taking the same approach as in the earlier class, Ms. Dilly gave additional time to talk through texts and discuss the meaning of words within the story. In this small group, they discussed the word magic and why it was used in a story that didn’t involve spells or magic wands, but rather the science of plants growing.

    “It’s like magic when the plants grow from a small seed into a big plant,” one student responded.

    As Ms. Dilly worked with her small group, Mr. Dunn spent time with each student discussing their reading goals, evaluating their progress towards those goals, and adjusting goals as necessary. This allowed for each student to get an individualized reading plan and personal attention to help them succeed.

    It’s clear that when students are supported by teachers and staff, like at Rainier View Elementary, their ability to achieve their literacy goals is unmatched. It’s like…magic!

    Read more about the district’s five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence.