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Sat, Oct. 19

Reading rocks at Del Rio school!

Courtesy photo<br>
Third-grade reading goals winners.

Courtesy photo<br> Third-grade reading goals winners.

Learning to read well is especially important in elementary school. Just like it takes practice to become a skilled athlete or musician, nothing takes the place of practice to become a better reader. At Del Rio Elementary School, a first- through fourth-grade school, students are encouraged by a number of incentives to inspire more independent reading practice.

Using the Accelerated Reader program, students read books and take quizzes in their reading level range and the program tracks how many words are read. There are quarterly grade-level challenges to see which class has made the biggest percentage increase in total words read. From a high reader to a slower reader, every student makes a difference for the class by increasing his/her own word count. The winning classes in each grade earn a celebration party.

There is also the Million Word Challenge, a district-wide program with sponsorship from the Rotary Club of Chino Valley. In the lower grades, it is quite the feat for a class to read a million words all together. In the upper grades, students are challenged to read a million or more words each, with end of the year rewards for those who reach this accomplishment.

Another aspect of Del Rio School's reading incentive program has to do with goal-setting by points and guiding students to achieve 100 percent of their reading goal each quarter. Each student's point goal is set fairly, based on the student's reading level, so it is not "one size fits all." The beauty of this is setting every child up for success. Even a struggling reader can make his/her individual goal. It is like an individualized reading plan wherein every child can experience success.

Students who have achieved 100 percent of their quarterly goals have a chance to have their names randomly drawn for a special pizza party. There are also incentives for the class in each grade with the greatest percentage of students reaching their goals. Again, the success of a struggling reader is just as important as the success of the highest reader. It is a group effort, with the teacher guiding the way through monitoring and encouraging progress.

Encouraging independent reading practice through involving students in awareness of their own progress plus a variety of incentives have made a positive difference in the reading success at Del Rio School. Students who were reluctant readers are reading more and students who are already good readers are excelling. Students have been heard saying, "I am already at 75 percent of my goal," or "I read close to a million words last year, and I am definitely going to be a million word reader this year!" Improving both the levels and love of reading makes Del Rio School an exciting place.

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