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New tool for learning to read

August 25, 2008 3:30:19 PM PDT
Nicolai Celestain is ready for third grade with a healthy appetite for reading. "If I want to learn something from books, I'll usually pick up a non-fiction or animal book," he said.

Non-fiction is at the heart of a pilot reading program, aimed at kindergarten garden through 2nd graders.

"We are looking to make a dent and to make a real impact when students go into middle school, when they go into our high schools and beyond. We believe very definitely that what we must do is start early," Deputy Chancellor Marcia Lyles said.

The program comes from the well-known not-for-profit called Core Knowledge. Ten so-called high needs schools in the city will use the new reading curriculum.

"They were chosen really where the school community had a commitment to participate," Joel Klein said.

The core knowledge approach helps the youngest of students learn to read by teaching topics, from history to literature, while using sounds, or phonics, to build vocabulary.

Angela Logan is principal of one of the test schools.

"These are interesting topics. Students like to read about non-fiction because it's something tangible," she said.

The method makes sense to Celestain's mother, Cathy Ann, who is also a teacher.

"If we teach them from this young age; from kindergarten to first grade to second grade, then we kind of prevent the problems later on that they're going to have," she said.

Teachers at the selected schools began a week of training on Monday on just how to teach these materials. The three-year pilot program costs 2.4 million dollars. It will be paid for through private funds. We're told if it works, it will continue.

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ON THE NET:

The Core Reading Program:
http://coreknowledge.org/CK/schools/KTR/index.htm

Video about how the reading program works:
http://coreknowledge.org/CK/schools/KTR/Overview640x480.mp4

More videos about the reading program:
http://coreknowledge.org/CK/schools/KTR/video.htm

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STORY BY: Art McFarland

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bob Monek

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