Reading is the focus for county schools
Morgan County School Superintendent David Banks said that reading and literacy will be the number one priority this school year.
They are working to find more books and topics that appeal to boys as readers. Boys lag behind girls in reading proficiency 10% to 28% locally and trail girls statewide some 15% at all grade levels, said Assessment/Special Edu-cation Director Terry Riley.
Many boys aren’t reading
Banks said he talked to around 100 students at the middle school and asked what they were reading. Just about every girl could name a book and had a book with them. Most boys said they weren’t reading anything.
Banks asked boys their interests. When they said hunting, fishing, NASCAR or other topics, he told them to go find a book about it.
“Boys just don’t like to read,” Banks said.
Book companies weren’t making it any easier by publishing books that were traditionally more geared for girls, he said.
Reading ability crucial
It was important to get books that interested boys into their hands, Riley said. There were fewer non-reading jobs every year. He noted that they have to be able to read a computer screen.
“It’s crucial for boys to be able to read,” he said.
It’s hard for boys to sit still and even read a magazine or a short story, Banks said. Part of their reading initiative is to put reading into other technology like iPad labs.
The reading plan
Schools plan to have designated silent reading time, Read Aloud Morgan County reading volunteers in classrooms and constant dialogue about reading at school. They were discussing the reading coach’s schedule at a director’s meeting this week. Their goal is to have every child be a reader by third grade.
Each teacher at Warm Springs Intermediate School is posting something about what they are personally reading in their classrooms so they can talk about it with their students. Berkeley Springs High School teachers were doing the same thing in their classroom with colleges they’d attended, Riley said.
A strong foundation
Kids have to have a strong foundation before they attend pre-kindergarten or kindergarten with parents reading to them and learning the alphabet and sounds beforehand, Banks said.
Some children are starting school that don’t know their alphabet letters while others know all of their letters and a number of words, Riley said. That range of differing abilities in children starting school makes it more challenging for teachers.
They’re willing to teach parents how to teach children to read, Banks said. They’ve done so at the Parent-Child Academy, at Parent Teachers conferences and also in home visits.
Riley said it would help if young families were reading to kids all the time. Children don’t come out of the womb hating to read.
“It’s just like riding a bike. The more you read, the better you get at it,” Banks said.
Literacy needs to be a community-wide effort, Banks said. Morgan County Schools and Morgan County Starting Points are co-sponsoring a literacy summit that is planned for March 27.