Susan Goodenow, Ridgeview Elementary first-grade teacher, gives a science lesson to her class Wednesday. Goodenow was appointed to the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association, a position she will assume in July. Her duties will include planning literacy programs and community literacy events.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Susan Goodenow, Ridgeview Elementary first-grade teacher, gives a science lesson to her class Wednesday. Goodenow was appointed to the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association, a position she will assume in July. Her duties will include planning literacy programs and community literacy events.

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Ridgeview Elementary School teacher appointed to state reading council position

Tips for teaching children to read

Janele Husband, Colorado Council of the International Reading Association assistant state coordinator, believes there's one element children need when learning to read.

"You have to practice anything if you're going to do well," she said.

And reading, a life-long skill, is no exception, she added.

Husband and her successor, Ridgeview Elementary first grade teacher Susan Goodenow, said practice must continue outside of school and suggested the following techniques for parents can use to help teach their children how to read.

First, Goodenow said, parents must provide an example of leisure-time reading. She believes children who watch their parents read show a greater interest in reading on their own.

"It makes reading important and worthwhile," she said.

Second, parents should read to or with their children daily, Husband said. Kindergarten and preschool students should have about 20 minutes of after-school reading time, Husband said. Older students should spend that amount of time or more reading with their parents.

Third, Goodenow believes students should have access to books at home, including those higher than the child's reading level. Looking at the pictures in higher-level volumes, she added, teaches young children how to use a book.

"Even if they can't (read) the words, they'll get something out of it," she said.

Letters form words.

Words string together to make a sentence.

And, ultimately, sentences link together to convey a thought.

It's an intricate sequence, said Susan Goodenow, Ridgeview Elementary first grade teacher, one so complex it could fill - well, a book.

"Reading is very complex," she said. "Every child learns to read differently."

She should know. A list of literacy teaching experiences stretches behind her like the sentences she's helped her students decipher during the years.

For 29 years, Goodenow taught Moffat County first-, third- and fourth-grade students. Before becoming a first-grade teacher, she was Ridgeview Elementary's literacy coordinator.

And for three years, she presided over the Sagebrush Reading Council, an area chapter of the Colorado Council of the International Reading Association.

This year, Goodenow will add another chapter to her career as a reading teacher.

The CCIRA appointed Goodenow as its associate state coordinator, said Ruth Larson, the organization's vice president.

The position places Goodenow on the organization's executive committee.

Goodenow's three-year term begins in July. As assistant state coordinator, she will help plan literacy programs and community literacy events, Larson said, adding that Goodenow also will help recruit new members to the CCIRA,

Goodenow will represent CCIRA chapters across the Western Slope, including Moffat County's Sagebrush Reading Council.

She was appointed to the position after Janele Husband, current assistant state coordinator and Craig resident, decided to step down from the post.

Husband, a retired teacher, said she recommended Goodenow for the position and "encouraged her to take the challenge."

Goodenow's communication skills, her experience as a literacy coordinator and her familiarity with the state's support for area reading councils will work in her favor when she starts her term this year, Husband said.

She speaks from experience.

Husband and Goodenow taught in Moffat County schools together, both beginning at East Elementary and eventually working together at Ridgeview Elementary, Husband said.

Debbie Frazier, Sagebrush Reading Council president, welcomed news that another Craig teacher will become Husband's successor.

"It's really nice to have someone on that state board (who is) local," she said, adding that having local representation at the board gives the council "a really good link to the state."

Frazier thinks locality isn't the only quality Goodenow will take to the state board.

"She's really positive and upbeat," Frazier said. "She's dedicated to literacy and she's easy to work with."

Goodenow has reasons for continuing to teach literacy.

Her four children - Jasmine, 28, Katie, 26, Chris, 24, and Nick, 22 - are all grown, allowing her to focus on her first-grade students.

Her motivation for working with young readers trying to wrangle meaning out of words and sentences can be found in a moment.

She calls it the "aha moment," the instance when students "understand (a concept) for the first time," she said, "and you see a light bulb light up," indicating they have grasped the idea.

Every year, teaching children how to read makes her witness a change, she said, and nearly three decades of teaching have yet to dull the awe that accompanies it.

"It's amazing how much a first grader learns in one year in reading," she said, looking around her empty classroom after school. "They come in nonreaders and they go out (as) readers."

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