My students attend a middle school of 794 children, including 73% Black, 21% Hispanic, and, 4% Asian, Multi-racial or Caucasians. Special needs students make up 13% of our students and 15% of the students speak a language other than English. According to standardized test scores, almost 75% of our students are not proficient in Language Arts skills, which include skills such as comprehension and reading for meaning. In addition, 45% of our eighth grade students read below grade level. The families in our community have an average income of less than $50,000. Our school is a Title I school, with over 95% of our students qualifying for free meals.
Imagine excited and dedicated students preparing for competition, only they aren't running drills or reviewing plays. They are quizzing each other during virtual practices and taking notes from books. They are members of our reading bowl team, preparing for the Helen Ruffin Reading Quiz Bowl, a state-wide competition.
The students on our reading bowl team are passionate about reading and love to share books.
They enjoy discussing books and sharing their favorite authors. They are also very competitive!
The members of last year's reading bowl team experienced their first year of virtual learning, so practices were online as well. They found it difficult to stay motivated and to practice online. They did well in their competition and placed fourth in the middle school level, however they learned a very important lesson. In order to win a first or second place trophy next year, they will need to take a different approach to virtual practices and preparation for the competition. They also learned how important it is to have physical copies of the books.
Providing these books now will give them the copies they need to begin reading and studying over the summer.
Reading during the break will also reduce the loss of reading skills generally seen in the summertime. They will return to school in August with a head start on the competition and their reading skills! In addition, when we return to the school building, the students can present book talks on our morning news show to promote reading in our school.
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