Books by the Scoop

Westside second graders take to reading like ice cream

If you happened to drop by Diane Level’s second grade class at Westside Elementary School this year, chances are you found her students reading. They just couldn’t get enough of it.

That was partly because of Level’s successful classroom reading program — one that she’s perfected over the past few years. But according to the veteran teacher, this year’s class was particularly gifted when it came to the first of the three R’s.

“This class is so advanced,” Level said the day after their year-long reading program officially ended the last week of May. “They have really taken this to heart. They’re reading independently and on their own and they love it.” Level began the year with the goal of having each of her 27 students read 100 books by the end of the year. Not only has everyone reached that goal, many students have surpassed it several times over. Most of the students are reading above grade level, and those who started out behind have made measurable progress, according to Level.

“Some of them grew 2½ to 3 years in reading,” she said. Level offered incentives to her students for reading. The reading program began last September with a tree on one wall of the classroom. When students finished 25 books, they got to attach a leaf to the tree with their name on it. When they’d read 100 books, students got a green apple with their name on it. Higher numbers of books were represented by different colored apples.

Level also gave each student a book as a gift for every 100 books they read.

But despite the incentives, as the year went on most students began to enjoy reading just for the fun of it. Lupita Ortiz, who read 193 books, said she likes reading because it’s fun.

“(Books) have a lot of adventures in them,” she said.

Megan Hobbs, who won honors for reading the most books all year with 612, plans to continue reading right through the summer.

“I learn stuff from books,” she said. According to Hobbs’ mother, Lisa, it was Level’s reading program that turned her daughter into an avid reader.

“It’s really helped her focus on her vocabulary and speed,” she said. “It’s wonderful to walk into the classroom and just see her reading.”

Along with class readings out loud, Level provided quiet time each day for the students to read on their own — “sometimes two or three times,” she said. Level also assigned “word lists” to help the students increase their vocabulary.

The word lists had a secondary benefit; many Hispanic students in class took the lists home to their parents, who studied them along with their kids in order to improve their own English.

“It’s been really valuable,” Level said. Consuelo Sedano, whose daughter, Jennifer, read 451 books this year, said the word lists helped her. She praised Level’s reading program for getting her daughter more interested in books.

“We go to the library about two times a month and (Jennifer) takes a stack this high every time we go,” Sedano said, holding one hand a foot above the other.

Level had her students keep track of the books they read in a journal. In addition, each student made a paper ice cream cone last fall to represent the reading program. Each time they read a book, they wrote the title on a “scoop” and added it to their cone. Last week, the students unrolled their ice cream cones and measured how long they were.

Nearly all were at least dozens of feet long. Hobbs, who read the most books, measured her cone at 72 feet.

“It’s nice for them to be able to visualize it this way,” said Level, who wanted the community to know about her readers before she sent them on their way to third grade.

“This is something to celebrate,” she said. “Once that fundamental is there, it’s there forever.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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