Literacy coordinator awarded $2,000 |

Literacy coordinator awarded $2,000

Funds to be used for putting new teaching strategies into practice

Bridget Manley

Shannon Samuelson has an approach to reading she thinks will work.

She has $2,000 to prove herself right.

ING, a global financial services company, awarded Samuelson the sum as part of its Unsung Heroes Program. Samuelson, Ridgeview Elementary School literacy coordinator, was one of 100 teachers across the nation who received the award.

The program recognizes teachers who bring innovative lessons to their classrooms, ING reported in a news release.

With the awarded funds, Samuelson plans to buy necessary materials for a set of teaching strategies she plans to implement at Ridgeview Elementary this fall.

The system, or literacy structure, is, as she calls it, “The Daily 5.” It divides reading activities into five categories: reading to self, reading to someone else, working on writing, word works and listening to reading.

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Students chip away at these activities daily, preferably during a 90-minute stretch. Taken together, Samuelson said, the activities build skills such as reading fluency and comprehension that students will need to become life-long readers.

Steps teachers take to use the system may seem a bit excessive.

Teaching a student how to read to someone else “seems like a silly thing to have to do,” Samuelson said.

But, that’s exactly what “The Daily 5” requires.

Students break off to work on one of the system’s five components. But, before they do, teachers tell them exactly what they want to see students doing when, for example, they are reading aloud to a classmate.

“That’s the most important part, I think, in this structure and making it work,” Samuelson said. “The kids know exactly what they can and cannot do during this time.”

Some teachers at East Elementary School used “The Daily Five” last year. Samuelson dropped into a classroom at the school to observe the literacy structure in action.

She liked what she saw.

“I saw all the kids engaged in learning on their own,” she said.

To Samuelson, the highly organized nature of the structure was apparent. She described how she watched as a teacher rang a bell, signaling students to move to the next station, and saw the students comply.

“They all knew what to do next,” she said. “It was really nice.”

To some degree, routine is a desired quality to teaching literacy.

“Kids need to know what to expect,” Samuelson said, adding that continual practice also works in the students’ favor.

Samuelson plans to implement “The Daily 5” at Ridgeview Elementary this fall. The structure is tailored for students in kindergarten through second grade, she said, but it can be adapted for third- and fourth-graders.

Eventually, she’d like to see the literacy structure used in elementary schools throughout the Moffat County School District.

That step, however, could depend on whether the Unsung Heroes Program smiles on Samuelson during an upcoming round of funding awards.

The $2,000 award allows Samuelson to put “The Daily 5” to work only at Ridgeview Elementary. And, even then, the money only goes so far.

“Two thousand dollars is a lot of money,” Samuelson said, “but it’s also not enough to do what we want to do with it.”

Still, she’s said she’s going to try to stretch the funds.

Samuelson applied for the award in the same way she would apply for a grant, outlining how much money she plans to use implementing the system. Expected costs include buying books, writing pads, white boards and books on tape.

At a glance

• Ridgeview Elementary School literacy coordinator awarded $2,000 from ING Unsung Heroes Program.

• Shannon Samuelson will use the funds to implement literacy structure at Ridgeview Elementary School.

• Necessary materials for the system include books, white boards and books on tape.

• Samuelson could be awarded up to $25,000 in additional funds.