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Read to me R.B. Russell

June 23, 2021 News Story
R.B. Russell Read to Me

R.B. Russell Vocational High School is improving literacy skills through an intensive reading, writing and spelling program.

In its fourth year at R.B. Russell, the Read to Me program is designed to meet the literacy needs of each individual student. 

“With Read to Me, we meet our students where they’re at and give them whatever instruction is relevant to them,” said Chelsea Favelle, MorningStar teacher tutor. 

“We regularly get students who are below reading level or spelling level. The Read to Me program is about developing the skills they need so that they can continue to interact with their grade-level subjects and materials.”

R.B. Russell teacher Joel Anderson said the Read to Me framework provides for small group intervention for students who are reading and writing below grade level. 

“I’d say the strength of Read to Me is the repetition,” Anderson said. “The students are doing it every day and there’s a big buy-in from the staff that the program should never be interrupted. Also, the program is leveled. The students are grouped with other students at their same reading level. 

“It’s a good way to teach English language arts. We have various level of ability. I find when you teach the whole class, sometimes you’re not hitting everyone the way you should. You’re not challenging some and you’re not addressing the needs of others. Quite often you teach to the middle. But, in the Read to Me program, everyone is getting what they need.”

Favelle said her two groups of Read to Me students went up 72 combined reading levels over a five-month intervention.

“That’s unheard of,” Favelle said. “To have students that are entering the program not being anywhere close to grade level, but leaving after five months at grade level is just amazing to see.” 

As a Grade 9 teacher, Anderson said he’s seeing the benefits of the Read to Me program when teaching core subjects like social studies and science. 

“One of the biggest parts of Read to Me is teaching them to look at text structures or text features, like reading subheadings and looking at graphs,” Anderson said.

“Now, when a science text book comes out, they know how to look at text features. They have a better understanding of what they’re looking at.”

Favelle said she is working with the R.B. Russell school library to bring in more reading materials that are reading level and age appropriate.   

She said Read to Me students may start off reading below grade level, but they all have it in them to succeed.

“The confidence difference I’ve seen between the beginning and the end of our intervention is light years,” Favelle said. “The students have it in them. Read to Me is just an opportunity to coax it out in a non-threatening, really supportive environment where students feel like whatever it is they need, they’re going to get.” 

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