WEC just wrapped up another successful year of our Reading Together program funded by the AbbVie Foundation! Reading Together distributes new, high quality, high interest books to children in Kindergarten through the third grade four times a year, along with tools for their parents and caregivers to support them as they learn to read. In addition to reinforcing academic skills and content, the books and related activities support important civic and personal traits such as teamwork, friendship, & respect.
Reading Together continued to grow and improve during the 2018-2019 school year. With the expansion to Clark Street School this year, Reading Together now operates in five elementary schools across Worcester:
Clark Street School
Goddard School of Science
Grafton Street School
Lincoln Street School
Also new this year, classroom visits and read-alouds were delivered by Reading Assistants, a team of retired teachers who shared their expertise and brought the program to new heights. The program served 54 Kindergarten through third grade classrooms totaling 216 classroom visits this year, serving 1,162 students, and distributing 4,648 books. One of our Reading Assistants form Clark Street shared:
“I had heard of the Reading Together Program, and when Jennifer Carey called to see if I would like to be a part of it, I was, indeed, intrigued. Visiting the classrooms only four times a year, though, I was worried that I would just be dipping in and dipping out, never really developing that all-important relationship with the children. My second visit to Clark Street School, however, dispelled my concerns. While we as readers are not with the children very often, the books they take home with them are a connection between visits, so they do remember. And, more importantly, the books — their VERY OWN BOOKS! — are at home on their bookshelves, being read, re-read, and shared with family and friends. The children are incredibly appreciative, as are their teachers, who have said that the program is making a difference in their students’ excitement about books — certainly a huge step when one is learning to read!”
This year we also added new multicultural books including titles such as:
It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
Tito Puente: King of Mambo (a bilingual book), by Monica Brown
Salsa Stories by Lulu Delacre
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkmamba & Bryan Mealer
Why Do Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema
Over the course of the school year, Worcester Public School students in WEC’s Reading Together program showed significant improvement in academic performance, engagement in learning, and communication skills. Some highlights include:
The number of students who built on other’s talk in conversations above their grade level increased by over 800%.
75% of students demonstrated understanding of the text at or above grade level by asking and answering questions at the end of the academic year.
The number of students who never spoke clearly and loudly enough for others to hear was reduced by 90%.
The number of students who were always or usually interested in learning new things increase by of 180%.
63% of students contributed ideas, opinions, or information to group discussion more frequently at the end of the year than they did at the beginning of the year.