Students get boost during summer

Nearly 100 Portales elementary students start their day by building their reading skills and putting these skills to practice at James Elementary School.

According to James Elementary Principal Mark Gormley, the Portales Municipal Schools month-long reading program aims to provide extra help to students lagging behind in reading.

"From the time school gets out in May till the time it starts back in August, some students always fall back a little bit," Gormley said.

"So what we're trying to do is give students an extra month. We're trying to give them a little bit of a boost so that slide backward throughout the summer is not so much."

During the school year educators identify students in need of help through assessments and teacher recommendations. Educators use Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills testing to assess childhood literacy and identify students in need.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills testing is a set of procedures and measures to determine a child's skills in phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Teachers work with students for two hours a day, Monday through Thursday. Gormley said the program has been in progress at least 10 years. Each class has eight to 10 students per instructor. The first hour of the day is devoted to group learning; the second hour focuses on individual skills. During the second hour, teachers work in small groups with two or three students and one-on-one with students, which enables teachers to get to know students better.

During the first hour, James Elementary first grade teacher Erika Grenko instructs students using Triumphs, a reading intervention program which focuses on kindergarten through second grade. Triumphs is used in conjunction with the school's reading series Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. This series is used during the regular school year. Each week Grenko's eight students read a combination of fiction and nonfiction stories and write about what they've read that day.

"Today we read a story about where ants live and the students had to rewrite their own story about where ants live," Grenko said. "They had the writing prompt 'ants live' and they had to complete the sentence and draw a picture to support their sentence. It's very simple and very basic but I'm trying to reinforce what we're reading into what they're writing."

Grenko said summertime reading program teachers reteach and reinforce concepts and prepare students for the next grade.

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