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RIF's Teacher Feature

Reading Is Fundamental caught up with Georgette Sierra, a teacher at Oakbrooke Elementary School in Sherwood, Arkansas, who has enjoyed implementing RIF’s supplementary literacy program Read for Success in her classroom for the past two years. Read for Success is an evidence-based program designed to help close the achievement gap. Currently using Read for Success with her 4th grade students, Georgette has also used it in her 2nd grade class and for K-5 students at a local Boys and Girls Club summer program.

Georgette likes to begin the program by reading one of the books from the collection aloud to her class. While reading, she emphasizes vocabulary in the text, and later the kids can join in on the fun by acting out the vocabulary as she rereads the book. Georgette emphasizes the comprehensive vocabulary saying, “The vocabulary is rich and is a big deal for me. Kids aren’t exposed to vocabulary anymore, talking these days is so limited due to the increased use of technology. Children are falling behind due to a vocabulary gap.” Georgette also looks forward to choosing one of the recommended STEAM activities to try with her class. She gives the students plenty of choice in activities to give them a sense of ownership over their education.

One book Georgette’s students truly connect with is Each Kindness written by National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson. Georgette explains that the students made the connection to the book, either because they had experience with hurt feelings or had hurt someone else’s feelings. Georgette feels Each Kindness is a great title and uses it at the beginning of the school year to set the tone for the year. Another book the kids love is The Day the Crayons Quit. Their favorite part is melting crayons on a canvas after the read aloud as an extension activity.

Oakbrooke Elementary School hosts a family night where children and parents came together for book distribution and literacy activities. The highlight of the night is when the students pick out their own books to keep. The parents love seeing their kids get excited about reading and some are shocked that kids are allowed to take the books home as their own. During the summer program Read for Success distribution, Georgette remembers a young student who was particularly excited about the book distribution event, “One child came and chose a book for herself and then asked if she could choose a book for her sister because they only had two books at home.  She then proceeded to choose a book for herself, then her sister and then other family members.”

Georgette reflected on her time activating Read for Success at the local Boys and Girls Club, remembering one student fondly. A fifth grader, who struggled with reading and was not interested in participating in the program as he was under the guise that he would be chained to a desk. He ended up coming full circle and loved the program, especially the literacy activities. His favorite activity was crafting paper airplanes as an extension activity from The Pilot and Little Prince. At the end of the summer he happily told his dad, “I was happy I did not quit coming”.

Read for Success works for Georgette’s students and can work for you, too. Learn how here!