Grant, reading tools assist Halls High students

Josh FloryOur Town Youth

Educators at Halls High School helped struggling readers make progress this year, with the help of some innovative reading tools and a private-sector grant.

In August, librarian Brandi Bowers and special-education teacher Romy Reed were awarded a $2,000 grant from the Dollar General Youth Literacy Foundation, which aims to help students who struggle with reading.

They used the grant to purchase a set of Teen Emergent Reader Libraries, kits that include several copies of books that have young-adult themes but are written at a more basic reading level.

Offered by Saddleback Educational Publishing, the kits also include teacher’s guides and assessment tools.

The materials are available in the school’s library and have also been used by Reed, who said she’s seen a significant increase in reading comprehension among her students after using the curriculum.

“These have been exciting for our students. It’s on a level they can read, but it’s relevant to an interest that they have,” said the teacher, who cited science fiction, mysteries and history among the categories that have been popular.

Reed said that because the kits include multiple copies of each book, her students are able to participate in discussion groups based on reading level. In addition, the kits provide comprehension quizzes and teacher’s guides that cut down on her preparation time.

Bowers said she recently purchased a similar set of books for English-language learners, and she’s hoping to raise money to buy more of the Emergent Reader kits. As students make progress, she said, it’s helpful to get kits that are progressively more challenging.

Bowers is hoping to raise $2,500 for the next set of books, and she said it’s been helpful to learn about grant-writing opportunities that support specific literacy initiatives.

And while she wasn’t in the classroom using the kits, Bowers said it’s been gratifying to hear about their impact. “Seeing how excited students were and hearing how excited they were really meant a lot to me,” she said.

Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website.


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