Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School
Dear Middle School Families,
Among game nights, fun in the snow and quiet moments with family, mid-winter break gave me the chance to think about the learning quests stretching across Bernard Zell’s academic divisions. No matter the grade or age, building life-long readers is a journey that we take seriously at Bernard Zell. Read alouds and shared readings are best practices planted and grown from nursery through eighth-grade. Part of growing and nurturing our readers is providing them the opportunity to practice reading.
Richard Allington, the author of What Really Matters for Struggling Readers encourages teachers and parents to hone in on three important principles for building lifelong readers:
Children need to read a great deal to become proficient readers.
Children need access to books.
Children need to develop fluent reading to become proficient readers.
Every night, a portion of our Middle School homework includes independent reading. Independent reading is a routine. When children are younger we find ourselves reading a traditional bedtime story, and as they move through Lower and Middle School it becomes essential to maintain a reading routine. Meaningful independent reading practices include time for reading, opportunities to connect with books that offer a wide range of characters and experiences and connecting within a reading community that includes teachers, students and families.
The more our students read, the better they read! Routine reading results in robust vocabulary, rich language acquisition, and reading fluency. We might think of independent reading like cardiovascular exercise for the brain! Frequent independent reading makes it easier for our students to sustain the mental effort needed to wrestle with and understand complex text.
Inside Bernard Zell Middle School reading workshops, teachers offer opportunities for students to read independently and put strategies and skills learned in teacher directed mini-lessons to work! Teachers allow students to select their own independent reading material because it builds self-motivation, deeper engagement and equips them with a multitude of lenses through which to see the world.
Supporting Bernard Zell’s commitment to building life-long readers, our librarians, Rena Citrin and Andie Townhouse continue to make sure students have access to a vast collection of books—both in our school library and our digital BeZellLibrary. As we continue to work together as a reading community, I hope you’ll “check out” a new book and encourage your child to find a fresh read as well!
Chag Purim Sameach,
Head of Middle School