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Reading levels on the rise at Penelakut Island School

New program started three years ago

  • Jun. 13, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Students at Penelakut Island School are real page turners.


Principal Tim Harris said his K-7 students have ignited a huge passion for reading.


It’s catching on and the results are beginning to show.


Three or so years ago, reading levels were very low, probably the lowest around, said Harris.


That started to change when the principal before Harris, Karen Milanese, brought in guided reading material called Literacy Place by Scholastic.


Three years ago, the school started a school-wide guided reading program from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m. everyday.


“The good thing about it is they are in small groups in their own level,” said Harris.


The students are assessed and given the chance to move up into different groups.


“I think what makes the program successful is we have everyone on board,” said Harris. Even the custodians are taking part, he added.


“Everyone has a part in it.”


The passion for reading has spread beyond just the 45-minute program, said Harris, with a noticeable amount of students picking up their book at recess or lunch time.


“We see them wanting to read. When I first came here three years ago, kids weren’t liking reading.”


The school has also been giving out books as prizes for students for achievements in certain areas, such as attendance.


“We’ve come a long way.”


Harris was very pleased to note a Grade 3 student was recently assessed and was reading at the appropriate level, an achievement only a handful of students could claim only a few years ago.


Wider assessments will be completed this month, said Harris.


The zest for learning is showing not only with reading, but also mathematics, where a similar program, Math Makes Sense, has also been initiated.


“It’s only a matter of time before we see those skills come up to grade level as well,” Harris said.


Harris said he has seen the program bring similar success in the Stz’uminus First Nation as well.


Vice-principal and special-ed teacher Sheila Garrison also had nothing but praise for the progress.


Garrison said the goal is to have the kids who were in Grade 1 when the program was started reading at their appropriate level when they leave the school in Grade 7.


“We’re getting there, it’s starting to happen. The kids are loving books,” said Garrison.


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