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Reading Buddies

After attending a CLC workshop, staff at Gaspé Elementary School (GES) learned that if children do not learn to read by grade 3 that they will likely fall behind academically, socially and economically in the future.

Eastern Shores School Board – Gaspé Elementary School, Gaspé QC

After attending a CLC workshop, staff at Gaspé Elementary School (GES) learned that if children do not learn to read by grade 3 that they will likely fall behind academically, socially and economically in the future. This prompted teachers to develop reinforcement strategies to help their students reach the grade 3 reading goal.

One of the challenges teachers faced however was finding enough time each week to work individually with their students and so they approached the CLC Community Development Agent (CDA) to see how he could help with this challenge. The answer came from outreach to the community through the intergenerational reading program. The school is fortunate to have good partners in the York River Seniors Club and the Anglican Church. The CDA approached the teachers with a plan, coordinated the schedule and now manages the weekly commitment of the seniors. Most of the reading volunteers are former professionals, teachers, CEGEP professors, or speech therapists that have a tie to the school community and want to stay connected to a learning environment in some capacity. The classroom teachers coordinate the students who will receive the assistance each week.

“Students who were reluctant to raise their hand to read aloud, seem more willing to do so now.”
Teacher, Spring 2016

The program, initiated by the CDA and teachers, has become so engaging and appealing to students that they all want to be selected to read when the seniors come in to school. The anecdotal evidence is clear that all parties appreciate the extra reading time that is given to struggling readers. What now needs to be tracked is the improvements that staff might see over time for these children with the ultimate goal of each child learning to read by the end of grade 3. This is the second full year that the reading buddy program has been in place and results will be tracked starting in June 2017. It is important to remember however that this program is only one piece of an overall literacy program. Teachers are hoping to see improvements in student reading levels and gains in comprehension. With regards to community engagement, there are between 4-8 seniors coming in to the school every Friday, donating time, and in many cases expertise, while helping struggling readers.

In June 2016, data revealed that:
– 5 out of 14 of grade 2 GES students were reading below level based on DRA
– out of 13 grade 1 students were reading below level.

“I understand the importance of what we are doing (reading 1 on 1) but I’m amazed at how much fun it is for the students as well as for us!”

-Volunteer Reading Buddy

We have overcome several challenges concerning logistics (when, what time etc…). New challenge: students from grade 3 who are able to read at their level, feel left out when they do not get the same opportunity to read. New challenge: volunteers (in general) love to read with students but would prefer to read with students who are not reading at their level. Possible solutions: more volunteers, staggered times to include more students.

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