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Electronic summer reading program at Brooks Elementary

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 Brooks Elementary School literacy committee is conducting a summer reading program for Brooks’ students.

However, according to district Technology Integration Specialist Susan Jenkins, “It is not any ordinary summer reading program. It is all taking place through the wonderful world of technology.”

With Jenkins’s assistance, a “Wiki” account was created where students post responses about their books and have discussions with other students about their books.

“Teachers and staff are also commenting and helping to guide the discussion,” Jenkins explained. “The students are doing an awesome job.”

Rebecca DeSpain, a member of the literacy committee, said the reading program started because, “We (the teachers at Brooks) knew that in order for students to not feel the impact of the ‘summer slump’, they had to read over the summer.”

“The literacy committee was influenced by the following research,” she said:

Students who read as few as six books over the summer maintain their level. Reading more only leads to even greater success.

Students need to read books that match their level.

Students need to have choice when selecting books.

Many students do not have access to books over the summer.

There is indication that the best predictor of loss or gain in reading is whether or not a child reads during the summer. Also, the best predictor of whether a child reads is his/her access to books.

The reading achievement of students who do not read over the summer typically declines on the average of three months.

“Having the support of Brooks’ staff and Principal Cheri Lineweaver along with FRC Coordinator Sherri Bishop with this research in mind, a simple reading program was implemented based on one conducted by reading researcher and expert Dick Allington,” DeSpain explained.

Teachers selected students from their class and they were invited to participate in the summer reading program.

“The students and parents committed to participating, and then the students were allowed to choose 10 books to take home with them over the summer,” DeSpain said.

In addition to the targeted students, the students participating in Brooks’ summer camp also joined in using the Wiki to post their discussions.

“Self-addressed, stamped postcards were also given to students so they could write notes to all staff members about their books,” DeSpain noted. “It was the committee’s hope that the use of a “Wiki” for book discussions would increase motivation to read.”

The literacy committee will study MAP data and seek feedback from teachers to determine the impact of the summer reading program on the “summer slump.”

“This was a trial year and we got a late start,” DeSpain said. “I believe when the literacy committee meets again in the fall and throughout the year, we will tweak the program so it is even more successful next year. We want to include more students, any student who wants to participate.”

“The philosophy behind the program is based on research,” she continued, “and if students do follow during and read through the summer, there will be an impact. As with any new idea, sometimes you have to live through it to know what is needed to make it successful.”

Bullitt County Public Schools has nearly 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.