A growth mindset, taking ownership of learning, believing one can achieve whatever he or she wants to achieve: teachers and students at Schoharie Central School District are finding that a reading education program in their schools is building much more than skills for the classroom.
A nationally recognized program offered through educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, READ 180 is designed to raise student reading levels using a balance of teacher-led instruction, computer-based learning and independent reading.
The variety of approaches and material suits a range of student interests while providing tailored instruction.
Equally important, READ 180 students are encouraged to develop a growth mindset toward not only reading, but life in general. “READ 180 helps students understand that no one goes through life without experiencing challenges and even failure, and that there is much to be learned from these things, said Darcie Schmid, Schoharie Elementary reading teacher.
A path to success in school, adulthood
“READ 180 has a long history of helping children become successful students and adults who overcome a variety of adversities.
“We encourage our students to never, ever give up, and many students are buying into the growth mindset. A high percentage of elementary READ 180 students have showed reading growth,” she noted. “We take time regularly to celebrate their successes.”
READ 180 provides Schoharie Elementary and High School students with additional reading instruction four to five days per week.
When asked about their favorite parts of the program, students gave answers that were as varied as their interests, which is central to the success of READ 180.
One student likes READ 180 because “I can listen to a book.”
Others enjoy working on the computer. Another said READ 180 “helps me learn and have fun with friends that are not in my class.”
Many of Schmid’s students are happy with their progress in READ 180, and some are especially excited about how their Lexile levels, a measurement of reading ability and skill, have grown since September 2016.
“My Lexile level has grown 356 points! I was very proud,” said one student.
“How I grew is that I have been reading longer and faster,” noted another.
READ 180 students didn’t take a break from learning once school ended last June, and they seem to have enjoyed the process. “Over the summer vacation, we all read a lot of books and some of us worked on reading packets,” one of Schmid’s students said. “The books are making us learn because they are about animals and history.”
Building a lifelong love of reading
An elementary student who had already liked reading before working with READ 180 found her enjoyment soar. “READ 180 made me love to read more than I do already,” she said. “I never loved to read this much in my life since I started READ 180. I had so much fun learning here.”
Said another elementary student, “READ 180 inspires, encourages and gives me hope. I would mention it to other kids.”
Program is also a hit at the high school
At Schoharie Jr./Sr. High School, reading teacher Bonnie Snyder is in the second year of working with students in the Read 180 program. “The program includes the big five that every solid reading program should include: phonemic awareness, fluency, phonics, comprehension and vocabulary, as well as a writing component,” she noted.
“Materials include a variety of topics to capture student interest and motivational videos to build background knowledge.”
Besides its comprehensive curriculum, READ 180 has added value for educators, said Snyder. “Besides offering students various topics and leveled text, READ 180 provides teachers with so much data, allowing us to see growth and generate reports.”
Last year, more than 92 percent of Snyder’s students made progress in their reading skills, and 12 of 34 junior and senior high school students tested out of the program completely.
Enjoying reading more than ever
Schoharie Jr. High School student Mariah is one of the students who successfully completed READ 180, increasing not only her reading skills, but also her enjoyment of reading.
“Before the program,” she said, “I kind of liked reading. Now, I find it fun if I like a book or a topic. And if I’m interested in a book, I won’t stop reading.”
Every student is different, and READ 180’s variety of approaches suited Mariah, who enjoyed computer-based reading and activities, but also valued sitting down with a book. “Reading on the computer for 20 minutes and a book for 20 minutes was good and better than 40 minutes on the computer alone,” she said.
“It wasn’t boring, and writing themes was fun. I miss READ180 sometimes because I learned so much. And this year, I love English.”
Engaging books erase reading dread
Snyder added that students can login to READ 180 from home and work on lessons, an especially valuable feature in homes without a wealth of books.
Reflecting on the impact of READ 180 on students of all ages, Snyder has seen the most dramatic progress with students who have difficulty with word recognition, decoding and fluency, since the program includes many leveled interest reading materials.
“Kids would come to me hating reading, and with READ 180, I’d have books they would like. The books are written at their interest level and help tremendously,” Snyder said. “Overall, READ 180 is a solid program that includes all a student needs for reading.”