OKC VeloCity | ReadOKC winter reading challenge exceeds 1.8 million minutes logged by students

ReadOKC winter reading challenge exceeds 1.8 million minutes logged by students

By David McCollum / Inside OKC / March 11, 2019

ReadOKC, an initiative of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Compact, strives to instill the love of reading in students and community, with the ultimate goal of increased reading levels.

As ReadOKC moves into its third year, this initiative continues to host reading challenges during every summer, fall, winter and spring break that encourages students to stay engaged with reading even when they are out of school. In the most recent challenge “Chill Out and Read”, the 3,584 students who participated read more than 1.8 million minutes during the winter break, shattering the fall break record where the 3,363 participating students read more than 1.3 million minutes.

Students who read an average of 20 minutes per day or more during the breaks receive prizes and awards. The number of students who met the reading goal increased from 1,576 students during the fall, to 2,096 students during the winter break. Hawthorne Elementary students finished as the first place school for the third consecutive reading challenge.

“Our school reading culture was fair at best before ReadOKC,” said Hawthorne Principal Melinda Elms. “As a staff, we decided to use the challenges to bring that much-needed momentum to do even better!  As educators, we know that reading will increase academic readiness, but reading for fun started to feel like an afterthought because we were lacking the student motivation and ‘fun’ portion that ReadOKC has brought to OKCPS. Now that we have succeeded our student’s goals our students are unstoppable!”

ReadOKC also seeks caring adults to serve as Reading Buddies who visit one student or a small group of students at their school once a week and read with them for 30-45 minutes. The mission is to expand and enhance the Reading Buddies program in the OKPCS District in order to improve students’ attitudes toward reading. There are still many students in our schools in need of a Reading Buddy.

ReadOKC also strives to improve access to reading materials for all students in OKCPS by providing Little Free Libraries throughout the city. The goal is to provide a Little Free Library for every OKCPS elementary school, as well as installing them in OKC parks. The premise of the Little Free Libraries free book exchange is a “take a book, return a book”concept. The libraries come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box on a post filled with books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share. There are currently 17 Little Libraries installed outside of OKCPS elementary schools and in public parks with nine more Little Libraries in the works.

While OKCPS is keeping pace with the state regarding reading scores, students are starting from behind. The district has been closing the gap between district and state performance over time and 81 percent of OKCPS elementary schools had at least one cohort making more than one year’s growth. Expectations are in place for 1.5 -2.0 years of growth for all students performing below proficient levels.

For more information regarding the ReadOKC initiative, please contact Mary Mélon, ReadOKC chair at mary@okckids.com  or Abbie Dedmon, ReadOKC manager at abbie@okckids.com.  Phone number is 405-604-5977. Both are with The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

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