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Students net literacy goals during READvolution, parents assist


BENNETT — In a span of eight weeks, 3,959 Chatham County Schools students in kindergarten to fifth grade read 19,646 books, a collective engagement of 683,220 minutes of reading. It was a READvolution, a partnership with the Carolina Hurricanes that got kids reading even when they weren’t at school.  

Bennett School reading coach Jessica Peterson  The program challenged students to read 20 minutes a day from Sept. 24 to Nov. 16. When it wrapped up, Bennett School’s students averaged 637 total minutes of reading. They went through 1,997 books for 57,291 minutes and have been invited — along with students from Durham and Wake counties — to take in a Hurricanes practice Feb. 25 at PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Bennett has the smallest student population in the district at 179. Yet students from other schools in the district couldn’t match the reading pace of the Panthers. Bennett has 90 elementary school students, and every single one of them participated in READvolution. Getting 100 percent buy-in was no issue, Bennett reading specialist Jessica Peterson said.

“It was easy!” Peterson insisted. “Our students are intrinsically motivated to read. Our teachers consistently emphasize the importance of reading and integrate literacy into all subject areas. Student choice is offered for books read at home so students are invested in the content of the good-fit books they choose. Bennett School Principal Dr. Carla Neal  The incentives at stake — school field trip, tickets to a game — during the READvolution program encouraged our students to stay accountable by logging their minutes read outside of school. I can't even imagine what the numbers would have been like had we included all the reading done in school, as well.”

Peterson said she and Bennett Principal Dr. Carla Neal kept students’ interest stoked with updates over the loudspeakers and classroom check-ins.

“We also kept the line of communication open with our families at home,” Peterson said.

Pittsboro Elementary School media specialist Karen Jeremiah  The 498 participants from Pittsboro Elementary School read 3,711 books. Other schools in the district had more participants, but none of those student groups read as many books as the Pandas. Their media center was buzzing, Pittsboro Elementary media specialist Karen Jeremiah said.   

“I noticed an increase in book checkouts. Students were coming into the library during open circulation in the mornings to talk about READvolution, to check out more books and asking to fill out hockey pucks when they finished reading books. Each hockey puck represented a book students finished reading,” Jeremiah said. “Parents reached out, too, for clarification on how to log minutes read at home on the Hurricanes’ READvolution website. We were able to promote and increase parent awareness around our school district’s Clever portal and Clever badges as a way for our younger students to access the READvolution site, which was awesome.”

Clever is a tool that offers a central location where school districts can provide a dashboard for easy access to digital learning resources for students.Pittsboro Elementary School Principal Kendra Fisher

Pittsboro Elementary Principal Kendra Fisher launched #ReadWithMissFisher videos on Twitter, where students could follow along while she read aloud. She wanted to make sure students at her school had the opportunity to work through at least two books for READvolution.

Students who met their goals earned tickets to a Hurricanes game.

The district also teamed with the Hurricanes for the Power Play Program, which challenged students in middle school to exercise 60 minutes a day over six weeks. Each student meeting the goal of 20 total hours of exercise earned two tickets to a Hurricanes game. Bennett’s students led the way with that, too.

Published Jan. 15, 2019