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July 18, 2018

Kids READ Seeing Results of Intense One-On-One Instruction

Kids READ, a program sponsored through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, is producing results, program organizers say.

SARASOTA — Charlie Martinez, soon to be a first-grader, was reading a picture book titled “The Seagull is Clever” at the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota one recent morning when he got stuck on the word “waves.”

The sentence was “The waves are too big,” but Charlie kept pronouncing the word “wavs.” He read it out loud, and then stopped, looking confused. What is a wav?

“Does that make sense?” asked his teacher, literacy instructor Andrea Shulman, as she jotted down the word “wave” on a sheet she was using to track his progress.

Charlie is one of 82 Sarasota County School District first- and second-grade children receiving intensive one-on-one reading instruction for seven weeks this summer through Kids READ. The program is based at seven locations in Sarasota and is sponsored through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in collaboration with the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation and other donors. Students meet four times a week for 30-minute sessions with a reading instructor who uses Reading Recovery program techniques with the aim of getting kids up to their grade level. Reading Recovery is a literacy program aimed at helping low-performing readers.

The techniques focus heavily on building reading comprehension rather than simply sounding out a word, said Laurel Hinds, a Reading Recovery instructor at Tuttle Elementary and the coordinator of Kids READ.

“We are producing readers who can think while they are reading and problem-solve,” Hinds said.

Teachers sit one-on-one with children who read out loud. As the kids read, the teacher notes words they are struggling with and uses small slips of paper to cover portions of words to help the child sound it out. Emmaleigh Tatro, a rising second-grader, sounded out the word “prefer” as Tonya Quinn, a Reading Recovery instructor at Philippi Elementary, used the technique.

The children also write sentences to help build comprehension and reinforce the skills they pick up as they read.

“I did 20 laps in my pool. My dad gave me four dollars,” Emmaleigh wrote on one page. “Captain and I were running around the backyard,” she wrote on another, accompanied by a picture of her and her dog.

Hinds said the Sarasota school district’s school year Reading Recovery program has proven successful — 84 percent of the children who received 20 weeks of intensive instruction were reading on grade level by the end of the program, according to data provided by Reading Recovery. Spots in the program are tough to come by since each teacher meets one-on-one with the students, so one of the goals of Kids READ is to get kids up to speed over the summer so they won’t need a slot in the school year program, Hinds said. So far, it is working.

“Our incoming first-graders, many of them will not need a Reading Recovery spot in the school because we got them farther along, which is huge,” Hinds said. “It’s an amazing outcome.”

This story comes from a partnership between the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Herald-Tribune, funded by The Patterson Foundation, to cover school readiness, attendance, summer learning, healthy readers and parent engagement. Read more stories at

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