Giant Reading Buddies
On Wednesday Feb. 15, English teacher David Smith’s 1A class joined Gentry first grade teacher Raejean Noschese’s students as reading partners, or as the first graders like to call them, “Giant Reading Buddies.”
The program allows Mr. Smith’s class to read to the young students as part of a literacy initiative called Read Play Talk. The initiative is geared towards putting all MISD students on the recommended reading level by the time they enter third grade. MISD Superintendent Dr. David Vroonland first pitched Read Play Talk at the October 2015 MISD Board Meeting, and the following semester Mr. Smith’s 2015-2016 1A class, which was comprised of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, met with the first graders.
The 2016-2017 school year is the second year of Read Play Talk’s effective period. Mrs. Noschese’s class met their Giant Reading Buddies the previous week when they visited Horn.
“I like reading with a friend better because I have someone to read with and they help me out a lot,” First-Grader Michael Medrano said.
The first graders were ecstatic to have Mr. Smith’s students there to help them read through their books and vocabulary words. Through the program, the first-graders are given the chance to practice their reading skills with high school students inspiring them to improve on their reading skills and makes them excited to read, something many people feel younger generations are getting away from.
“What I like most about it is getting to bond with my book buddy and having the opportunity for my patience to grow,” Freshman Leah De Leon said.
Being a reading buddy not only encourages the first-graders, it also has an effect on Mr. Smith’s students. His students find that reading with the younger kids helps them to improve on themselves. Even though they are not working on their own reading skills, being able to help their younger counterparts allows them to develop their interpersonal skills. Working with the first-graders exposes them to interactions that they do not get as often at their own schools and allows them to reflect on their own progress from when they were young and learning to read.
“It gives them drive, it gives them purpose and it gives them the love of reading,” Mrs. Noschese said.
Mr. Smith and Mrs. Noschese are eager to see the effects of Read Play Talk. In regards to his own students, Mr. Smith has the high expectation that being Giant Reading Buddies will help his students give back to the community and grow as people.
“I hope it gives [my students] a sense of doing something larger than themselves,” Mr. Smith said. “To be part of a community and help others.”
Mr. Smith also advocates for the potential benefits Read Play Talk will have on the first graders.
“This initiative [can] improve our education across the board because those kids are going to grow up and become middle schoolers and high schoolers,” Mr. Smith said. “The better they can read, the more they can learn.”
Mrs. Noschese has already witnessed firsthand the advantages of Read Play Talk on her students.
“It gives them a feeling of ‘not just my parents care, or not just my teacher cares; everyone cares about how successful I become, whether that’s going to college or going to a trade school,’” Mrs. Noschese said. “[It will help the students] find their talent and give them the confidence to do that.”
Written by Jasmine Sen & Jemimah Juane