PITSBURG — A new literacy initiative at a local school district seeks to involve both students and parents.
Franklin Monroe Elementary rolled out its REACH (Reading Expands All Childrens’ Horizons) program for kindergarteners and first-grade students at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.
“We are very excited about this opportunity for our students and parents,” said FM Superintendent Jeff Patrick. “We believe this initiative will help increase the reading abilities of our primary readers.”
REACH is a five-year initiative supported by the Ohio Department of Education’s Straight A Fund.
The educational media includes a collection of 32 interactive reading lessons available through PBS LearningMedia. The lessons combine interactive activities, such as videos and games, with each lesson an extension of what the students are learning during the school day.
With Wi-Fi access, the lessons can be accessed from any location by parents and students using school-provided laptop computers.
Franklin Monroe, Piqua and Milton-Union schools partnered with ThinkTV public television to produce a year-long collection of reading lessons for each grade level.
“It is an exciting time and we are honored to be teaming up with Milton-Union Schools, Piqua City Schools, ThinkTV, and Wright State University to develop this program,” said Patrick.
Franklin Monroe Elementary Principal Eric Hughes said the school’s first experimentation with the program occured towards the tail end of the last school year.
“About 26 kindergarten students were our pilot group last spring,” he said. “We wanted some feedback from parents before we rolled out the full program.”
Each student receives an Acer Chromebook with touchscreen capabilities. Included with the Chromebook are a protective carrying case and a power pack.
As well, the classrooms have carts which house and charge the Chromebooks. At the beginning of the day, students plug in their device and unplug to use them during the day or to take them home.
The Chromebooks are covered for accidents under a four-year warranty. Any purposeful damage, however, must be covered by the parents.
Sylvia Koeller, a reading specialist for K-3 students, was involved with the development of the program.
“It’s designed for parents to be the coach,” she said. “It encourages parent-child involvement together, to develop a common bond of ‘book talk.”
Koeller describes the program as “self paced,” meaning that pupils who have advanced literacy skills won’t be bored, and those possessing fewer skills won’t feel left behind.
“Ultimately, its goals are to get parents more involved and to help student reading scores improve over time,” she said.
Though developed regionally, the REACH initiative is free online to the public nationwide.
Koeller said, “Anyone can take advantage of this program through PBS LearningMedia. They just need to set up a free account.”
Hughes added, “The best thing about this program, in my opinion, is that our reading specialists and teachers here have created programs that can be used by any student in the country.”
For more on PBS LearningMedia, go online to www.pbslearningmedia.org.
Erik Martin may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-569-4314.