Fourth grader Jack Martinka is delving into different genres thanks to the Action 100 reading enrichment curriculum.
Fourth grader Jack Martinka is delving into different genres thanks to the Action 100 reading enrichment curriculum.
They've turned Jack Martinka into a serial reader.

He likes the stories that go "crunch."

"I like that I sometimes find a really good book and I want to read it. I've been reading a series throughout this year," said Chatfield Elementary School fourth grader Martinka, holding the book he's currently reading.

"I've seen some books in the library that I didn't think I'd like, but my friend, Josh, told me to read this series. He said I'd like them, and I started reading them, and I'm already on the October book in the series," he added.

Having the right books for his reading level encourages Martinka to delve into the pages of books on which he might otherwise pass.

"Then I want to read. If I have a book I don't want to read, my mom and dad have to remind me, and if I have a book I like, they don't have to remind me to read it," he explained. "If I find a good book or series, I have a lot more fun reading. I find it's fun to read because I like the book."

Chatfield Elementary teacher on special assignment, Elissa Johnsrud, explained, "We are putting more books in students' hands, giving students a choice about what they read, and giving them success by making reading 'fast, fun and fluent.'"

Johnsrud is in charge of assisting teachers and students using the Action 100 reading enrichment program, in which all students in preschool through sixth grade participate.

"Action 100 is a framework that helps every child read at their independent reading level," she added. "It allows teachers to meet students' needs and teach them the skills to move to the next level. It is data-driven and gives teachers instant feedback as to how their students are progressing."

Johnsrud also explained students will talk about what they read at school and will be accountable in answering comprehension questions daily. Students read 30 minutes in school and 30 minutes at home. "It also gets parents involved in their child's education by giving them coaching cards to bridge the home to school connection," she added.

Students are required to explore different genres as part of Action 100, according to Johnsrud, so they get different levels and get exposure to different kinds of reading.

"Giving students so much choice in what they read is motivating. Also, the medals are rewarding for most students and it is so fun watching them becoming proud of their own success," Johnsrud added.

Furthermore, since all students in the school are involved, she noted it is great to be on the same page and use the same strategies and system.

"Action 100 supports our current reading curriculum and is aligned with the common core standards," she explained. "Students conference with teachers individually each week. The data from their conferences is recorded on an online assessment database where we can monitor student progress and look at areas they need to have instruction in. Using this information, students are given a power goal which is the next step they need to learn to be able to master their current level and move on to the next level."

Johnsrud related, "Teachers can tell students exactly what they need to do to move to the next level. This is very empowering for students, and they want to move on. Whether it is learning words, practicing fluency or comprehending what they need, students get specific skills and they are partners in their learning."

The most difficult part of implementing a new reading curriculum like Action 100 is for students and staff to learn as they go. The students are all new to Action 100 this year and learning the ins and outs together. Johnsrud said the staff has been very flexible and have been great, looking at something new and working hard to get off to a great start. She said this has resulted in student enthusiasm.

"The students are so excited about their steps and proud to wear their medals," she added. "Every time I walk through the halls, students are telling me how many steps they have. It is also great seeing the parental support of our school and such a great turnout for our Action 100 night. Action 100 will succeed in our school because we have teachers and parents who are dedicated to doing the best for our children."

She continued, "We have already seen great progress in student growth and have only been tracking growth for a month. The data on growth is really fun to watch. We use SchoolPace, which is an online web-based student achievement dashboard that allows teachers to monitor growth and performance in real-time. We have access to reports on individual, classroom and grade level data and if students are not progressing, we can look at their data and make a plan to help them grow."

Martinka's teacher, Kerri Koenig, commented, "It's a really great program with incentives for students to read. They're really interested in books and more genres. Kids who are struggling in reading find a love for reading since they're required to read so much, and across the board, the program is good for advanced readers to those who are struggling. They're reading different types of stories they wouldn't usually be reading."

And as they explore different genres and discover their love for literacy, the students have the assurance that each staff member understands Action 100's tenets, Johnsrud noted.

"Each child doesn't just have one teacher that is concerned about his or her progress, but a whole school of administration, teachers, support personnel in the classroom, the Reading Research teachers, and parents who all want to help every child succeed this year," she added. "It is powerful to know so many people are working with our students to help them learn and succeed. I am proud to be a part of this great staff who is working so hard to help each and every child succeed."

Lastly, Johnsrud pointed out that parents help make Action 100 an effective program. "Parents are a huge part of the Action 100 program. Home steps are where students continue to grow in their level and practice the skills taught in school. It also reaffirms the connection between home and school."

She added, "Most parents are very positive about the program. We have received comments of parents not being able to get their kids to stop reading and students asking to get up early to read before school! Facebook has been busy with picture of students reading or students wearing their medals. It is fun to see the parent support!"

She reminded parents, "You play a major role in your child's success. Read every night with your child. Curl up with a book, read for 30 minutes, use the home coaching cards and enjoy a great story together."

In conclusion, her advice for students, is to "take charge of your learning, try your best every day and you will see great success this year."