Students are said to lose up to three years of academics over the typical summer break from school. But Dana Tracy is helping East Naples Middle School students prevent their minds from turning to mush over these summer months.
Tracy, 40, has been teaching at East Naples Middle for two years, and has started a free reading program in the media center during the summer break. Her program meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-3 p.m., and currently has more than 60 students in attendance.
A big difference between this reading program versus others is that the students choose what books they read.
“This type of high interest reading really helps raise school spirit, and sets a tone for the upcoming year,” said East Naples Middle School Principal Joe Mikulski.
The program consists of 50 minutes of group and individual readings. Volunteer teachers divide themselves into these groups to help manage and answer questions of the readings. After the readings, group discussion is held to further discuss the material.
Kati Miller, 35, is one of the volunteer teachers working with the reading program. She explained some of the reading techniques taught to the students.
One of the techniques taught in the program is getting students to connect the readings to their own experiences. Sometimes relating a story with a TV show, or replacing a character in the story with a friend can help students better comprehend the material.
Another technique used in the reading program is the method of prediction. Teachers have students read a small section of a story, and then have students guess what will happen next in the story plot. This makes the reading all the more interactive, and gets students excited about the progression of the book.
Leah Ford, a Naples High School ninth grader and former East Naples Middle School student, also does volunteer work with the reading program. She works with individual readings, helping students sound out words, and teaching how to use context clues to find the meaning of words.
“I’ve never been to a summer reading program, and I’m very surprised at the large number of students who chose to participate,” she said.
One of the students that Ford works with is Yi Dong. Dong is two years removed from China and is still learning the English language. Ford is currently helping Dong complete the book “The Soul Surfer.”
Students also get an opportunity to win bookmarks or pencil sharpeners with the daily door prizes. Coupons to businesses like Chick-fil-A, Coral Cay Adventure mini golf, Woodside Lanes, and Rita’s Italian Ice are also given out.
Although she has sponsors that donate coupons, Tracy pays for all food served in the program. If you wish to sponsor Tracy’s reading program, or wish to give some of your time to help these children strengthen their reading, contact Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org.