KMES excited about new reading curriculum
If you’re reading this newspaper, there’s a chance that you remember the way reading was taught when you were in school. Normally, the teacher would read a passage from a large book of stories and students would sit and listen to them. Otherwise, the students would also get in a circle and take turns reading a story.
Such a way worked back in the day, but it certainly had its flaws. For starters, the old method meant there was a lot of time where the student was not actually reading. There were also times where the student wasn’t engaged or caught in a day dream while the teacher rambled on.
With each students needs and development occurring at a different pace, the need for engagement and catering to each student has risen. Kasson-Mantorville Elementary School has noticed this and after roughly 15 years, they decided to make a change in their reading curriculum.
The new curriculum entitled Fountas and Pinell after founders Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, focuses more on learning in smaller groups and student engagement to help students not only develop at their own pace, but to also become engaged in their subject.
“Our teachers had already moved to a really responsive approach to our students where, looking at each individual kid,” KMES principal Ariana Wright said. “They’re going to need different things. To be able to pinpoint their needs and give them all what they need is something we’ve always done in reading.”
The new curriculum also involves several different ways of teaching reading to its students. While it still has elements of the old style of teaching by reading in a group, there are also other methods such as reading in smaller groups with the teacher and having the students practicing reading on their own.
The kicker is the resources being provided. Instead of the older, bland stories in thick books, Fountas and Pinell provide material that is already being well received at KMES.
“What I’m hearing from our teachers is that these texts are so great,” Wright said. “The books that they are reading are so deep and the kids are more engaged and they just love what they’re reading. What we want is for kids to love reading and this sets the stage for that.”
The change also stems from a combination of age and resources. While Wright cautioned that age was not the only factor for making the change, the opportunity for the district to meet its goal of catering to each student was the main decision behind it.
“Our district was very thoughtful fiscally about that,” Wright said. “That’s why we are purchasing this over several years and implementing it that way. The need was definitely there for our students and we’re now able to personalize on each student’s need and the philosophy of this particular curriculum.”
In the early going, the reviews of the new curriculum have been positive. KMES has been leading in the region with the Fountas and Pinell curriculum and other schools around the nation are beginning to jump on board. As the curriculum continues to be installed, Wright hopes that KMES can provide a blueprint for other schools.
“We really are proud to be able to highlight the strengths that [Fountas and Pinell] has and what it’s able to do for our kids,” Wright said. “We believe strongly that it connects to not only what our staff believes in reading ,but what our community believes about kids and the foundation they need in reading. I believe that this will be another area where our students and staff will shine.”