- Schools in Motion
- DOE Aspirations 2013

Schools in Motion

Articles in this section highlight ideas shared by South Dakota Educators. Thank you to the teachers who are willing to share great ideas from their classrooms!

Reading over the summer is beneficial, isn’t it? There’s research out there to prove it. I had the opportunity to attend the IRA conference in Chicago in the spring of 2010 and listened to two ladies who had research on the summer reading loss that happens during June, July and August. Deborah Carlberg and Patty Sullivan presented their research and had a solution titled, Reversing the Summer Reading Loss. They were gracious enough to share all their ideas and handouts with me. I took their idea and implemented it last summer for 26 struggling readers at May Overby Elementary in Aberdeen.

The premise of the program is that before the students left school in May, they choose eight books (at their reading level) which I mailed to them (one at a time) throughout the summer. I was fortunate enough to have the financial backing of my district to be able to order the books to make this happen. Once books were ordered, the process began.

Students were chosen based on observations and reading scores. They were the struggling readers. Once identified, parent permission slips were sent home, signed and returned to me. Students then got to choose the eight books they wished to read. Books were a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and were at the students’ reading levels. The day school let out, I put their first package in the mail.

In each student’s package along with their book, was a postcard with specific family participation guidelines and strategies. Once students completed their book they had to fill out the postcard and drop it in the mail (it was pre-stamped). I was the recipient of that postcard. Once I received it, I knew to send them their next package. The process continued for up to eight books. This accountability process was essential to keeping communication between the students and me.

The students were thrilled to be able to pick out the books before school let out last spring. I gave them time to look them over and put them in the order they wished to receive them. Once received, the books were the student’s to keep. When it was all said and done, I put books into students’ hands that may not have had the chance to get them otherwise.

Kelli Helms, Reading teacher, Aberdeen, SD

Winter 2013