GREEN: If you want to instill a love of reading in your child, or simply want to help them become a better reader, it seems you just need to provide a set of plastic interlocking building blocks.
The integration of Legos into Green Primary School’s summer reading program called SWAG (Students With A Goal) has been a hit with kids and is helping them not lose ground with their reading skills during the break.
Lego Education, which includes Lego Literacy, a computer-assisted reading program offered by the Denmark toy company, uses the building blocks to connect kids with literature and make reading fun.
Made possible in part through a $2,500 donation from Green graduate Edward Cope, the Lego class that ended last week was instituted as a pilot program to help work out the kinks before it is integrated into the curriculum for the school’s student body of 1,000, said second-grade teacher Tammy DeDominickis.
“Writing and reading is a big part of our literacy program and a huge part of our school year,” said DeDominickis, who helped design the curriculum for the one-day-a-week reading program that allows students to set their own goals.
Students built models, developed story lines about their creations and then wrote about them, she said.
Cope made the donation with the express purpose of purchasing the Lego program, said Principal Kevin Finefrock.
The program included 13 kits of 200 pieces each, motors to operate model functions and a cable to connect them to a computer. Each kit has a book filled with ideas for students, and the program includes a planning guide for teachers.
The 215 students enrolled in the summer reading program have read 5,000 books borrowed from the school’s library, Finefrock said Wednesday, the final day in the five-week program. Each child read an average of five books each week, the majority of them “chapter” books as opposed to picture books that appeal to younger kids.
“We have been trying to make an effort in our library to match kids with high-interest [books],” Finefrock said.
The SWAG program was a result of Green’s approach to a requirement by the state that third-graders be proficient in literacy by the end of the 2013-14 school year, he said.
“As a community we looked at where our students fall in reading literacy. We are very fortunate we do not have many students that might fall into this category,” Finefrock said.
Finefrock estimated that about 5 percent of Green students need remediation to avoid repeating the third grade. The Ohio Department of Education reports that with 94.4 percent of its third-graders proficient in reading, Green students are well ahead of the state’s overall average of 79 percent student proficiency.
The summer reading program was made possible by a $50,000 donation from an anonymous source, he said.
Parent Jennifer Doerrer, a former primary school teacher, said parents appreciated the program that helped prevent the “summer slide.”
“They [parents] knew that their kids were going somewhere once a week with qualified teachers that would enhance their reading skills,” Doerrer said Wednesday.
The inclusion of Lego Education, a three dimensional approach to story writing, was as popular with Green’s 20 teachers who participated in SWAG as it was with students, said Lego instructor Julie Buckler.
“The possibilities are endless, in my opinion. And I am very excited about this,” Buckler said as she assisted students last week in Amy Warth’s class.
Last week, children created monkeys with moveable arms and birds that spin, just two of the 12 different models. The students will be able to write them on computers that will make the models come alive with voices and movement.
“They will be able to make movies on their own,” said Buckler, who teaches students to use iPads during the school year.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.