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Winter Street School reading program makes winners

March 22, 1999

Demeatric ScottBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer




Dameatric Scott has finished 140 books since December, but the 8-year-old Winter Street Elementary School student used to hate reading.

"It was just boring to me," he said.

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Throughout the first and second grade, Dameatric saw reading as a chore. Four months into the third grade, a persuasive teacher helped change his mind.

Mary Rogers tried to convince Dameatric reading is fun. She asked him to read two books she gave him and decide if he wanted more.

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"I kept reading and I kept liking it," said Dameatric.

The soft-spoken child is one of 19 students who participated in a kind of class contest. Rogers set a goal for her students to read a total of 100 books between Dec. 1, 1998, and March 31.

So far, the kids have read a total of 1,100 books.

"I've had miracles every year," Rogers said. "This is the ultimate."

Last October, Gov. Parris Glendening kicked off "Reading Across Maryland," a statewide program intended to promote literacy. The governor asked children to read 10 books by the end of the school year.

Pam Michael, an instructional resource specialist, presented the idea to the Winter Street faculty and Rogers decided to participate. They sent a letter to parents describing the program and started each student off with two books.

Each student read at his or her level and pace. The program was voluntary and the students read at home with their parents or guardians.

The teacher sent home a form listing ways the parents could correct kids' reading mistakes, such as using pictures as clues for words.

The form encouraged parents to ask such questions afterward as "What was the book about?" "Who were the characters?" and "What was the setting?"

For the children to get credit for reading the book, their parents had to sign and date the form beside each title.

Since December, Rogers held several of what she called "celebrations" to reward her students. She invited guest readers, served up ice cream sundaes, watched a documentary video about the Titanic.

The class took a walking field trip to the Washington County Free Library, where Rogers helped each student who didn't have a library card get one.

Assessments at the beginning of the year showed 15 of Rogers' students had reading skills below grade level, but she believes all of them have improved. Some became competitive and tried to read more books than their peers.

Rogers had to buy more books to keep up with her students. "They just have taken off," she said. "It's been supply and demand."

Each one of Rogers' students participated in the program and all read at least 10 books. Some of those who already enjoyed reading became more avid.

Raven Hawbaker, 9, said she's looking forward to the upcoming holiday because she'll have more to read. "My dad said he's going to get me more books for Easter," she said, smiling.

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