Archive for Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Reading at a new level

Ex-Tonganoxie teacher’s students excel in program

August 11, 2004

Susan Lenon's fifth-grade class at Bonner Springs Elementary School last year proved that reading is fun and rewarding.

During the 2003-2004 school year, the class took on the goal to become better readers through the school's Reading Renaissance program, and came out on top -- the first class at Bonner Springs Elementary to score high enough to be named a model class in the program.

What drove them to reach this goal?

"Our classroom likes a challenge," Jacob Moulin explained.

Well, it may have been a little more complicated than that. To reach the goal of getting an average score of 85 percent or better on reading tests over 12 weeks for all 21 students, everyone had to work as a team.

"We made it because we all put our effort into it together," Kyle Day said. "It gave us the feeling that we could accomplish stuff that's pretty hard."

The Reading Renaissance program is designed to get students more excited about reading while at the same time raising their reading level.

Students read library books and then take computer tests. The computers track the scores, and those who can score high consistently for 12 weeks are named model classes.

"Every one of them participated, and we couldn't have done it without everyone doing their part," said Lenon, who taught sixth grade for two years at Tonganoxie Elementary School. "It wasn't like just one student had all the points; everybody had to qualify to make it, so it really was a group effort."

Between Jan. 15 and April 25, the class took 708 tests in the program over the books they had read, passing 697 of them with a score of 80 percent or higher.

Lenon, who left TES in 2001 but continues to live in Tonganoxie, is proud of her Bonner Springs class, both for their teamwork and for proving to themselves that they are excellent readers. She said when she saw that the class was close to meeting the criteria of becoming a model class, she started encouraging them daily.

"I just kept saying 'you're almost there, you're the first class that has done it,'" Lenon said. "They had set their goal, and they were really determined to make it."

Reaching the goal of becoming the first "model" class in the school taught the students about more than just working toward a goal.

"It's not only that you're challenged, but you learn more through the books," Megan Ussery said.

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