Liking literacy learning

Students in JSEL program improve reading techniques

Deb Hurley Brobst
dbrobst@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/23/21

Bergen Meadow Elementary School has been alive with literacy this summer. Forty students in kindergarten through fifth grade are getting additional help with reading through the Jeffco Summer of …

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Liking literacy learning

Students in JSEL program improve reading techniques

Posted

Bergen Meadow Elementary School has been alive with literacy this summer.

Forty students in kindergarten through fifth grade are getting additional help with reading through the Jeffco Summer of Early Learning program. The program, which also was offered at West Jefferson Elementary School, has been at schools down the hill for many years, and because of additional grant funding, it was offered here for the first time.

JSEL is helping with the adage that children learn to read by third grade, and then they read to learn. Those in kindergarten through third grade focus primarily on literacy, while the fourth graders and fifth graders focus on literacy and project-based learning.

“JSEL has been around for many years scooping up students over the summer who would benefit from small, individualized, intensive literacy instruction,” said third-grade teacher Kim Levine, who acted as the JSEL principal at Bergen Meadow. “After COVID, (the program) also makes up for lost time for some students.”

The idea is to teach reading skills from different directions: tapping out sounds on students’ arms, using hand movements to put sounds together, writing letters in salt, spelling words while moving — whatever it takes to get students to become better readers.

The program is data driven, Levine said, and even in small-group lessons, teachers tailor questions and exercises to individual students. Interventionist Christine Thompson, for example, keeps track of skills each student has mastered and what areas need more work.

“She knows exactly how to target individualized instruction,” Levine explained.

Bergen Valley third grade teacher Kim Mott said the teachers have gotten creative to teach literacy skills.

“We picked up where they stopped at the end of school,” Mott said. “We continue where they left off.”

There was an application process for the program to limit it to students it could serve the best, Levine said. About 10 students are in each class, and they come from the Bergens, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, and Wilmot and Parmalee elementary schools.

Teachers agree that it’s good for both teachers and students to meet students from other schools.

The students say they enjoy the program, which has been meeting daily since June 7 and ended last week.

Rocky Day, a Parmalee third grader, runs to the school door each morning, eager to be at school, and the teachers enjoy his enthusiasm for the program.

Third grader Taryn Herbels said she liked reading because it “helps me learn stuff,” adding that some of the reading assignments had been challenging, but they’re getting easier.

One of the program’s benefits for the teachers is the additional training and materials they receive that can be applied during the regular school year, second-grade teacher Michele Dollar noted.

CeCe Walker, who taught kindergartners and first graders in the program, said she loved the small class size, so she had time to get to know students.

“They are all so super fun and intelligent,” she said. “They make my day.”

Students in Walker’s class said they loved books: Mia O’Neil enjoying books about bears and foxes, Luke Deramo liking Spiderman books and Sloan Pike preferring animal books.

Levine lauded the staff that began planning for the program immediately after school ended in May.

“The teachers here are dedicated, compassionate and purpose driven,” Levine said. “We all here feel it is our joy and passion to be here. This enthusiasm and excitement for learning translates to our students and families.”

Levine said it was just as much about teaching literacy as it is about having fun while learning.

“The bottom line is how joyful everybody is,” she said. “They are so happy to be learning. I am so proud of this program.”

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