Grade-schoolers at Fremont Elementary School temporarily experienced a reprieve from their day-to-day academic endeavors last week when several community partners and local dignitaries visited classrooms to read to students. The effort was organized by a committee of teachers who came together to create several fun and engaging events to encourage students to gain, increase and appreciate their love for reading.
“The teachers at Fremont Elementary wanted their students to know that reading is powerful,” said Jennifer Ward-Dejoseph, principal at Fremont Elementary School. “Did you know that reading gives you superpowers? There are countless studies indicating the benefits of reading, but the biggest thing is children who read and write at school and at home — whether for assignments or just for fun — are building long-term study and executive function skills. These translate to confidence and essentially ‘superpowers.”
While literacy activities have already been associated with higher test scores, additional studies show these activities also provide students with tools for lifetime success, Ward-Dejoseph said. One in particular states 10 minutes of sustained silent reading doesn’t subtract from instructional time; instead, this time offers significant opportunities for students’ language and literacy development. Another cited by reading 20 minutes a day, a student will read more than 1.8 million words per year.
Children who are good students tend to become good employees by being on time and putting forward their best work, she continued. All of the things that make children good students also makes them a good employee.
“Encouraging and helping develop a competent and contributing member of society is just ‘super,’” she said.
Guest readers who visited Fremont Elementary School included: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak; Archie, the mascot from the Reno Aces Baseball Club; KOLO 8 News anchors Noah Bond and Rebecca Kitchen; KTVN 2 Meteorologist Mike Alger; KRNV News 4 anchors Shelby Sheehan and Joe Hart; Southwest Gas representatives; UNR cheerleaders; Amazon area managers; Nevada Highway Patrol dispatchers; Sheriff Kenny Furlong; and Carson City Fire Department representatives
The week-long reading focus included spirit days, mystery readers, a reading minute challenge, a door decorating contest, prizes and family engagement. Each day provided alternate dress-code adjustments like dressing as their favorite book character, superhero, in their best spirit attire and pajamas. Among the activities, students also got to write or print out poems to keep handy in their pockets. Throughout the week, they were able to exchange them with friends and collect them for their own reading collection. Large “pockets” full of poems were also displayed around the school for students to find and share as well.
Teachers added some extra excitement to the week with Mystery Readers. Each day, students eagerly listened as a mystery staff member read a book or poem over the loudspeaker. Those who listened carefully and were able to guess who’s voice they heard, earned a special prize.
Students were also given an opportunity to show off their own dedication to reading. Each night, they recorded the reading they did at home, and for each night of reading, they were entered into a raffle where they earned the best prize of all: new books. In addition, teachers counted and tallied up the total reading minutes their students completed outside of school and recorded it on a large chart in the cafeteria for all to see. Publicly displaying their reading efforts not only boosted their confidence and pride, but it also came with a reward: a popsicle party for the class in each grade level that read the most.
Many teachers also invited parents to be guest readers in their classroom throughout the week. Parents were encouraged to come read to their child’s classroom in their native language. Lastly, students got to partner with another grade level to act as reading buddies. Third graders got to read to kindergartners, for example. Older students got to act as role models and exemplify what good readers do.