Week One of Building “S’More” Summer Readers

IMG_0048By Lily Vartanian – With the Dwyane Wade “Live to Dream” summer program underway, the tutors have been working to prepare and plan for their students each day now.

Monday, June 15, the first day of the program, was a busy day for both the new “summer campers” as well as the tutors, with a visit from Tragil Wade, Dwyane Wade’s sister, who is the Director of the Wade’s World Foundation. Throughout the two hours of the tutoring, Tragil was able to visit the classrooms of students on their first day, offering words of wisdom, interacting, and getting to know the kids. The students, in return, were very excited to have a visitor as well as a camera crew, both of which helped add to the excitement of their first day. Students really seemed to respond well to both Tragil’s presence and the notion that they should work hard to make her and Dwyane Wade proud.

Following the first tutoring session, Tragil said goodbye to the students as they departed on the bus. She was able to sit down with the tutors to further discuss her belief, hopes, and motivation for continuing to help struggling readers develop their literacy skills. She shared a bit about her experiences, getting her degree as an early childhood educator, as well as working as a primary-level teacher later on.

It was through her experiences teaching struggling readers and having a nephew who read below grade-level that Tragil was able to personally see the discrepancy between where students’ reading levels often times are, and where they should be. As tutors, this was a wonderful opportunity to hear just how important and dear to her heart this cause is to the Wade family, as well as the Wade’s World Foundation, which has made this program possible.

So far, tutoring has run smoothly, with the first of six weeks now complete. For my students and for many of the tutors, the first week always serves as a “test run,” since testing, attendance, and other adjustments need to be made before the program can begin in full-swing for week two. The first week is often the time to establish routines and procedures with students in the Hartman Center as well, which always requires time and practice.

Finding out about students’ interests, abilities, and building relationships with each of them has been key to the first week, so that we can better tailor lessons to the individual students. To hear from another tutor’s perspective, I asked Emily Carton to share her thoughts about the first week, and the progress she hopes to achieve with her students. She shared about her classroom, which is following a travel theme:

“Within the first couple days with a room theme of ‘Reading takes us places,’ we created reading passports to track our reading progress. We also talked about how reading can take us on an adventure as students colored their ‘carry on’ — the cover of a binder with their instructional materials. We are excited to see if we can work toward our class goal of 25 take-home books each!”

Each day, we hope to focus on certain literacy strategies and key instructional strategies to help the students create meaningful learning experiences. For example, students will work each day on a guided reading story, either reading by themselves, as a group, or with a partner. They will learn vocabulary words from these texts, which will be words that are added to each room’s “Word Wall.” Students will practice writing and fluency, which help with speaking, accuracy, and reading with expression. Lastly, students will have the opportunity each day to take books home to read, enjoy a class “read-aloud” book, as well as have a time for a mid-morning snack.

The days have been flying by so far! More updates on the “Live to Dream” summer program will be recorded here, so stay tuned to hear more about the tutors, readers, and the progress we are making in the Hartman Center in the coming weeks!

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