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Getting Excited to Read

A Successful Start to the Elementary Literacy Program

I met with Ms. Lovisi, Director of Student Support Services, and Ms. Cajigas, Academic Dean, to discuss the success of the second grade after school literacy program. The goal of the program was to give students an opportunity to grow as readers. Given the successful results, the elementary school aims to extend this program to first graders. Thank you to all the teachers and staff who supported our students to reach their full potential.

Michael Morales: Why was the literacy program important for our students?

Kimberly Lovisi: I think it was important to give students exposure to various texts and types of words as well as opportunities to practice them in different ways. Are they spelling? Are they reading? Are they reading the words in books? Are they speaking with those words? It’s all about integration – enabling students to use the skills they’ve learned in their classes and giving them opportunities for practice.

MM: How did the students benefit from the program? What were the results?

KL: Because planning for the program was very intentional, strategic, and data-driven, students made a lot of gains. They were able to actually read books, and they got really excited about that because they saw that all their hard work paid off.

Tina Cajigas: I think certain children just need more practice to build their confidence. The after school program provided more time that may not be within the school day to practice and build confidence around the skills and then make them grow as readers and love something they may not have loved the first time around. Just thinking about all of us as humans we need a little bit more, a little bit more time. Time is so tight around a school day and there’s only so much that you can learn in that time. So the after school program really provides them with the opportunity to get that time, to get that small group instruction guided by a teacher to build their confidence around reading and we really saw great results from that.

MM: How would the program benefit 1st graders?

KL: The 1st grade needs extra practice and exposure, rather than acceleration. The difference is that in 2nd grade we want to accelerate their reading progress whereas in 1st grade, since this is the first year we’re doing this with them, we want to give them more opportunities for practice so they can also develop that same love for reading and for reading literature. Extending it to the after school reading program would benefit them so much in growing their reading.

MM: What do you hope for the future of the program?

I think the hope is that as our current kindergarteners move into 1st grade, we’re going to have kids that are ready to be challenged and grow as readers. In general, we need more love of learning and reading in schools. We need to give students opportunities to read about fun things they want to do, so they’re able to write about them and grow even more in 3rd and 4th grade. I think building on our program with kindergarten and 1st grade will help, so when they eventually move on to 3rd grade they’ll be ready to take the state assessment and continue to grow in middle school.

If you are interested in supporting the after school Literacy Program for 1st and 2nd graders, please visit LION’s Support Our Mission page to make a donation and select the Elementary Literacy Program designation.