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Teachers Prepare Reading Program in Ohio County Schools

Gone are the days when schoolbook characters Mike, Jeff and Mary and their dog Spot helped students learn the gift of reading, comprehension and words.

This week, elementary school teachers in Ohio County Schools gathered to begin preparing a new reading program that will be implemented across the school district in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The “Wit and Wisdom” reading program from Great Minds will be used by the district, and students and teachers may select from thousands of print reading materials supplied. Included are not just reading books, but picture books, short stories, magazine articles and even novels for older children.

Every six years the West Virginia Department of Education requires school districts to adopt a reading program, explained Raquel McLeod, student services director for Ohio County Schools.

“We choose a series that best meets our needs,” she said. “‘Wit and Wisdom’ is developed around nine-week modules with an overlying theme, and it is based on the science of reading.”

The science of reading has been the subject of comprehensive research in recent years, McLeod said.

“It has a focus on the arts and humanities within the lessons,” she said. “The program is designed to reach the parts of the brain responsible for reading development, and it uses a lot of evidence-based best practices.”

Both fiction and nonfiction works are included in the program, as are informational texts.

The students also are called upon to write after reading, and the program focuses on different types of writing — including persuasive, informational and argumentative writing. Educators know that before students can excel at math and science they must be able to read and write well.

“They have to have the foundations and phonics awareness,” McLeod said. “The new series we are implementing flows into our phonics program called Fundations. We are ensuring students have phonetic awareness, which will lead to better comprehension skills.

“Reading is the foundation for math and science. If you can’t read, you can’t do math problems and you can’t follow up doing things with science. Reading is fundamental for all subject areas,” she said.

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