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An innovative reading program which has Beaconhills College students stopping to read for 15 minutes in their first class after lunch each day has led to a boost in NAPLAN reading results.
The Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) program was rolled out in the Middle School (Years 5-8) at the College’s Berwick Campus more than 18 months ago. Pakenham Campus has a variation on the program called Power Reading.
The Middle School’s Head of Teaching and Learning, Victoria Spicer-Stuart, said that in 2014, the Year 7 NAPLAN results for reading were five points below the state average. This year, the results have risen to 15 points above the state average.
Year 5 reading results have also lifted – from nine points below the state average in 2013, to five points above the average this year.
“This is excellent,” said Ms Spicer-Stuart. “This five year trending for reading is extremely positive, with the highest results in 2017 that we have seen in some time.”
She believed the results were directly linked to the DEAR program and the work of teaching and library staff in implementing a “reading culture” in the Middle School.
The Middle School’s Head of Literacy and English, Clare Polglase, said the DEAR program has required the co-operation of all staff as students needed to stop and read, no matter what their class was at the time. Students are free to read whatever text they choose.
Ms Polglase said it was particularly gratifying to see some boys, who until a year ago had refused to read anything, suddenly discover a new love of reading. And parents had reported back similar observations.
Library borrowings up
Not surprisingly, the program has led to jump in library borrowings. Head of Information Services, Carmel Byrne, said Middle School loans rose 95 per cent from semester 1, 2015 to same period the following year, then a further 30 per cent for 2017.
“This increase includes a sharp rise in loans of audiobooks and ebooks across our three platforms – Overdrive, eplatform and Borrowbox,” Ms Byrne said.
Both Pakenham and Berwick Campus libraries have also increased book borrowings by cataloguing books by genre (eg adventure or fantasy), similar the way you find them in bookshops. Regular author visits, dress-up days, book clubs and Book Week events also make the school’s two libraries popular with students.
“Every single day, every single child in the Middle School is not only reading for pleasure, they are also seeing this positive behaviour being modelled,” Ms Spicer-Stuart said.
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Gate C, Syme Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810