The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 27, 2013

Traditional approach not the last word in reading class

David Hurst

WINDBER — The chunky, hardback reading textbook has become a classic in Windber Area elementary classrooms.

But after generations relying on the long-used books, school administrators say it’s time to turn the page.

The district is switching to a reading program more focused on individuals called “Good Habits, Great Reading.”

The program will replace the long-used anthologies with a library of fiction, nonfiction and “interest-driven” minibooks.

It will give elementary reading teachers dozens of small storybooks at varying reading levels to choose from, instead of a single story for a lesson, Dean of Students Jessica Shuster said.

“Maybe a student isn’t interested in one particular book. We’ll find them one that they are interested in,” Shuster said.

The effort, being piloted in kindergarten through second grade, is better geared to address individual reading needs, catering to small group reading and comprehension, she explained.

Education Director Glenn J. Gaye Jr. said the new programs represents the beginning of a literacy education overhaul in the district that will be years in the making. Teachers will receive training over nine days in the spring to prepare for the switch.

Superintendent Rick Huffman said the cost of switching to the new learning tools will be about equal to the savings from no longer buying new reading anthologies.

The district plans to eventually expand the program from kindergarten through sixth grade.

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