"Before we begin reading, 'Fox on Duty,' does anyone know what the word 'duty' means?" asked Rogers Elementary School's reading specialist Kara Saile during a recent guided reading group.
"That you have a job to do and you do it," said a third-grade student.
"Yes, that can be a duty. What is your favorite, and least favorite, duty?"
"My favorite duty is playing with my dog to tire him out and my least favorite is doing laundry," said a student.
"Let's read the story. How do we read? Silently, until I ask you to read aloud, and then it's a whisper read," said Miss Saile.
While each student read independently, Miss Saile worked one-on-one on particular skills with each student. Then, Miss Saile asked the group questions to determine if they understood the important facts and determined if there were any words they didn't understand to add to their flash cards. Students also rolled a "comprehension cube" with questions such as, "How was the problem in the story solved?" to encourage discussion about specific comprehension strategies.
Guided reading sessions run for 30 minutes with small groups of students reading at the same level. The second half of Miss Saile's day consists of building literacy skills for every student for 30 minutes a day. She focuses on specific skill sets such as nonsense words for kindergarteners, short vowels for first graders, blending for second graders, and fluency and comprehension for fourth graders. What skills are worked on during Guided reading, skill building and regular classroom time is determined by tests like Phonetic Screener Intervention and DIBELS, which are given to all students through sixth grade. Miss Saile also keeps running records on every student she sees throughout the school year to determine where they may need extra help to master a skill.
"I was a 7/8 English teacher at Washington Middle School before coming to Rogers. Having worked with both elementary and middle school students, it's shown me the bigger picture. I see how important the elementary school years are to a student becoming proficient in English language arts, " said Miss Saile. "I have a passion for reading and love having the opportunity to pass that on and see them develop their own passion for reading."
Miss Saile stresses the importance of reading at home, especially over the summer break.
"We see a huge drop in literacy skills in September. Encourage reading independently, but also read with your children. Ask questions about what they read. Pay attention to where they struggle and ask what level your children should be reading so they don't get frustrated. Show that reading is fun and can be done for pleasure, not just for schoolwork. I ask my students, 'What is the one things we need to do?' Read. Parents can help them develop a lifelong love of reading which will affect their entire life," said Miss Saile.