A unique reading program at Roosevelt Middle School is helping to build relationships while also deepening language arts skills.
The Partnership Reading Program matches 8th grade literacy students with employees from Quaker Oats. As the student and adult partner read the same novel, they connect weekly through the District’s online communication portal to discuss the story. Those conversations emphasize critical thinking skills and are aligned to the Iowa Core Standards. For example, students might be asked to “cite textual evidence” or to “determine the theme or central idea of the text” with their partners. By working with an community volunteer reading partner, teachers hope students develop a new purpose for reading.
“They may be more careful in their reading and are more prepared and thoughtful when responding to questions from their partners,” explained Diane Schnoebelen-Kramer, teacher.
In addition to the academic benefits, this program also allows the students to develop their social skills and overall communication skills. For Quaker Oats employees, benefits include having the opportunity to mentor and connect with students. Many embrace the opportunity to stay in touch with what students are learning, according to Schnoebelen-Kramer.
Thirty-two students and eighteen Quaker Oats employees are currently participating. The reading teams recently met at the middle school to get to know one another and to begin reading The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Participants will also be returning to the school to enjoy lunch with the students throughout the 15-week unit.
Grant funding from Burlington Corporation and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation covers the cost of the computers.
“This is a great way for our students to connect with the community as well as tie in the Iowa Core Standards,” said Schnoebelen-Kramer. “Students enjoy discussing the novel with someone other than their teacher and many of our students have met some outstanding adult role models at Quaker Oats. The volunteers at Quaker Oats tell me that they enjoy it because it gives them a chance to connect with students in our community.”