STREETS Smarts Summer Literacy Project
This summer I beat the Memphis heat and humidity and learned just how important summer reading is for students. The Memphis child poverty rate is 44.6%, making it the second highest in the nation. In addition, more than 64% of Memphis students are not reading at level by the third grade. In some of the city, more than 94% of students are not reading at grade level. Unfortunately, reading at level by third grade is one of the most important predictors of high school graduation.
The achievement gap in reading scores between higher and lower income students grows during the summer. So, I reached out to STREETS, a Memphis organization that works with youth, to see how I could help them with their summer camp.
The camp serves approximately 75 students in grades 1-8. I work with the students individually on their reading and comprehension. The first step was to meet with the students and test them to determine their current reading level. I received some training on using the testing materials so that I could assign kids a reading level. Some kids were very confident, some were shy, but they all wanted to to show me how well they read.
One the first students that I tested just kept sailing through level after level of testing. I worried that I was performing the test wrong, but she was very smart and she was so funny and had the greatest smile. During my testing, she came to the word sensory. While she had never seen the word before, she said she thought it had to do with things like taste and touch, which she knew were her senses. It was fun to see the light bulb go off in her head and she was so proud that she figured it out herself.
The funds I received helped provide additional reading materials and books for each student, field trips to complement their reading lesson and a celebration of their accomplishments. The first field trip was to Memphis Rox, the only non-profit indoor climbing facility in the nation. The kids learned how to climb, had fun and learned that they can work hard and achieve new goals. This leasson was important as I worked them to develop their reading goals. Our goal is to encourage them to achieve 1200 minutes of reading while reading three or more books over the course of the summer. I cannot wait to see what the achieve and the stories I will have to tell when the summer is over. Stay tuned!