The Stars Come Out in April

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) are underway in Austin schools. Boot camps are being scheduled to give students a final, intensive push in preparation for the much touted, more rigorous standardized tests. For struggling learners especially, anxiety is running high. It can make it difficult to keep students engaged and excited about solving math problems or remembering the difference between a chronological and cause/effect story structure.

At Webb and Burnet Middle Schools this year though, there’s another star in the galaxy: Reading Stars. A program funded by Impact Austin, Reading Stars gives 6th and 7th grade students a chance to record a book on CD. Over thirty student participants in this year’s Classroom Coaching classes have selected a book to read aloud and record. The CDs will be given to their feeder elementary school libraries and will be available for check-out by elementary students next year.

For most students, the recordings have taken on the excitement of a Broadway production – choosing the story, assigning parts, and oh, the rehearsals. My group has chosen a silly poem and they flirt with exaggerated voices to bring the story to life. They fall into fits of laughter as they master cadence and pacing on the parts they will read in unison. And finally, they are ready for show time. We plan to record this week. I know there will be some stage fright and shock at hearing their own voices. I’m certain we’ll have some do-overs. But for now at least, reading is fun, just the way it should be.

Our thanks to Impact Austin for their generous grant that has made our Middle School Reading Classroom Coaching and Reading Stars possible. For more information on Impact Austin go to http://www.impact-austin.org/

Pat Abrams, Executive Director

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About Austin Partners in Education

Austin Partners in Education is a non-profit organization that provides innovative programs to improve student academic performance.

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