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  • Picture Day! Tuesday September 24, 2019

  • September 16, 2019 Connect Monday Updates For Families

  • September 16, 2019 Connect Monday Updates For Families

  • Sign Up for CBE Services and Pay Fees Online

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Principal's Message

Snapshot: How Home Reading Became One More Thing on the 'To Do List' for Families


"Don’t feel, as a teacher, that you must tie every book to class work. Don’t confine the broad spectrum of literature to the narrow limits of the curriculum. Would you want everything you did all day tied to a sermon? The object is to create a life-time reader, not a school-time reader. That goal will never be reached if a student thinks reading is always associated with work or sweat."   -  Jim Trelease ( A Dozen DON'Ts to Remember When Reading Aloud) It's true (at least from my perspective) that our primary job as elementary school teachers is to introduce skills and strategies to students that will build confidence and support our young students to become proficient and capable readers.  We introduce letters and sounds, picture books of all genres, read aloud every day, encourage students to hold pencils appropriately as they shape letters, introduce new authors and subjects, make connections between fiction and non-fiction, organize books, share them and celebrate them every chance we get. This is the work we love and know will be invaluable as we launch your children into the world of formal learning. It is also true that improvement and growth in learning is best attained when learning is practiced in authentic, comfortable and safe circumstances. Learning to read is not always easy for children as they struggle to make sense of "those squiggles on the page" (my favourite description of text that a former student shared with me as he struggled to learn to read). There are so many things to remember in a day as children spend their learning time engaged with multiple forms of text encountered in a wide variety of ways. So teachers encourage them to practice reading at home. Every day. Often for a set amount of time - like 15 minutes. Sometimes we even ask parents to report and record whether or not their child has engaged in this work. Over the years we have come to call this "Home Reading" and it begins, usually, sometime in Kindergarten. Why? Because home is usually a comfortable and safe place to practice authentic reading.  30 years ago when I began teaching, asking young children to read at home every day was not a common practice, at least not one that I recall as a common practice. Sometimes we sent home work sheets to practice letters (since then we have figured out the transfer of understanding from worksheets to text is miniscule - being able to complete an alphabet or word work sheet is not an indicator of reading proficiency), but we rarely asked kids to read at home. That would have meant sending home "the readers" we all taught from at that time, and we simply didn't do that - at least, not in the schools I taught at. Gradually that began to change early in my career, as we came to understand reading as a much more complex process than simply knowing and sounding out words to make phrases and sentences. And through that expansion of awareness of what the actual act of reading truly entailed, teachers began to see that practicing reading was the most effective strategy for improving reading skills. We also began to understand children could read many things and "the readers" were not the only texts that honoured children's reading proficiencies and growth. Students could, in fact, read many texts other than "the readers" and that precipitated an enormous change in reading instruction.  We moved into an era of 'levelled' reading as we moved away from basal reading series (which had been levelled as well, but with different criteria and less distinction between fewer levels). Several commercial reading tests and texts emerged on the market for teachers and schools to use to determine the reading abilities of students. Levels were intended to inform next steps in instruction for teachers but quickly morphed into much more - for a brief time, there were libraries that used leveling systems and students began to see themselves as capable readers 'only' at specific reading levels with identified texts noted within a level's text complexity. As student confidence began to fall and reading success became what level students were reading, the effectiveness of the levelled reading series began to diminish as a teaching strategy - we were not using the levels just to help us know what the next steps in learning would be, we were using them to define and frame readers in a way that had not previously happened. Students were developing proficiency as readers who could identify words and phrases and basic meanings; they were not, however, becoming avid readers who connected significantly with texts and wanted to 'play' with words. Reading had become a task or a chore rather than an intriguing and engaging activity. It was during the levelled reading era that home reading emerged as an important task for students. Reading at home was seen as an opportunity to have children engage with text in a comfortable, safe environment and therefore promote practicing reading as a positive learning experience. The challenge, however, was that schools began to send levelled home reading books as the text of choice for readers to practice at home. Instead of becoming an engaging time for children to see reading as a wonderful experience, children were often relegated to reading the same kinds of text repeatedly at home until they could test successfully at the next level. Home reading became an extension of the in-class levelled reading and students came to see themselves as replicating school at home, rather than finding ways to love reading at home. Home reading just extended the school day, at a time when kids found it quite long enough already! Quite honestly, we have not fully yet moved beyond the levelled book phase of home reading, but we are gradually releasing children from the idea that their success as a reader is determined by an arbitrary level a reading researcher has contrived to establish as standardized. There are so many kinds of reading assessments and they are not all aligned in any way - similar on occasion, yet quite different as well. Each commercial test has it's own mandate and assessment criteria to support teaching decisions as readers develop and demonstrate success in learning to read, but these assessments were not intended to offer students the wide variety of genres, topics or interests available for them to experience from books and texts available today.  We know children who are read to, who practice reading at home - even when they are repeating memorized text initially - become the most successful readers in the long run. We also know holding them to particular levels and texts assigned to those levels actually restricts their engagement in reading, holding them back from reading for interest. When children read for interest, they will naturally stretch themselves to read 'above' text that might typically be comfortable for them and this both nudges them forward in skill and strategy development while fostering confidence, enjoyment and risk-taking as a reader. Reading for enjoyment and interest promotes avid, lifelong readers in a way that tackling increasingly complex, levelled texts cannot.  Home reading requires some effort on behalf of teachers, children and families. Teachers need to encourage and nudge children to read at home - sometimes teachers do this by tracking with parents when and what children read outside of school; sometimes there is just a stated expectation that reading will occur on a daily basis in the home. Children need to choose books they are interested in and willing to attempt to read outside of school. Families need to encourage their children to engage in reading that is not school-based, to help them choose books from home libraries or the community library, or to encourage students to bring books home from the school they are interested in reading. Schools often have a selection of books students can choose from to take home - while these may be levelled, schools are more likely to encourage children to select a home reading book from a wide band of levels that is of interest to them. And any child engaging in home reading should only repeatedly re-read a text if they indicate a desire to do so - reading different stories keeps reading interesting and fresh, inviting students into a new frame of learning every day. Home reading sits on every student's do list at our school, and at most schools these days. Schools and teachers want children to practice the skills and strategies they have learned in school in an environment that is safe, comfortable and promotes strong relationships - exactly what homes have to offer in abundance for most children. As we learn more and more about how, why and how children read, our practices related to home reading will subsequently grow and change too, just as they have over the years. The important things to remember about home reading are that it needs to include choice for students, opportunity established by parents, and an overall attitude of promoting enjoyment and interest towards the development of lifelong readers.  Yes, it is part of the do list for families - and also an incredibly important aspect of fostering reading success for all children. Lorraine Kinsman Principal

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Eric Harvie School

357 Tuscany Drive NW Calgary, AB, T3L 3C9
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School Contacts

Principal
Ms Lorraine Kinsman
Assistant Principal
Mr Benjamin Strand
Education Director
Mrs Prem Randhawa
Trustee
Ms Trina Hurdman

School Information

Grades
K-04
Enrolment
433
Programs
Regular
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School Hours

Morning Start
8:20 AM
Dismissal
3:05 PM
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