Riverside teacher develops reading program

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Dylon Davies and his Reading Buddy Hailey Faulkner enjoy their first one-on-one reading session. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Tammy Rainwater, Title I reading teacher, sees students in the first through the sixth grade at Riverside West elementary. Rainwater has been in the field of education for eight years.

As much as any teacher would like to be able to sit down with each student at least once a week for a one-to-one reading session, there is just not enough time in the day, Rainwater said.

After attending a workshop, Rainwater started thinking of ways that she could help her students improve in reading and came up with the "Buddy Reading" system.

She said she first thought of contacting retired teachers asking for volunteers to give an hour once a week. Then she thought about high school students.

"I talked to the administration about my idea and then took it to the high school students to see if there would be an interest," Rainwater said. "I knew the younger students would enjoy getting to know the older students."

Before the Christmas break, Rainwater gave a pizza party so the high schools students could get acquainted with the younger students. This gave her the opportunity to explain to the potential volunteers what being a "Reading Buddy" meant and how much time it would take.

She had 16 high school students sign up.

She targeted the second and third grade students for the program and assigned each of the students a "Reading Buddy." The program began Friday afternoon. The high school students will come each Friday during the seventh hour to read with their partner.

Rainwater said she basically tested all students to determine their reading level. She will choose appropriate books for them each week. The older students will read the book together with the students. They will have a question and answer session at the end of the story to develop comprehension skills. Once that is completed the Reading Buddy and his or her partner will go to the computer lab where the students will take an accelerated reader test on the book they read. The older students will then record the test grade.

"I am hoping to see improvement in fluency and comprehension," Rainwater said.

She was very pleased how smoothly the first session went. Rainwater said she is very optimistic about the program.

"I wanted to focus on the students that are falling through the cracks in the reading program. Once a child learns to read well, most other subjects will fall into place. Reading is the key," she said. "Another good thing about the program is there is no expense to the school district. We are working on being able to give the high school students community service hours for their time. That could be helpful to them in receiving scholarships."

High school volunteer Reading Buddies are Amanda Dunigan, Alex Smith, Miranda Stevens, Keryn Douglas, Hailey Faulkner, Ryan Fletcher, Tiffany Timms, Sara Staggs, Breigh Dudley, Carrie Schoolfield, Chelsey Couch, Michael Dewitt, Matt Owens, Matt Snyder, Jona Dixon and Courtney McCammon.

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