During the week of June 12-16, seven members of our local Reading into Success (RiS) initiative attended the Grade Level Reading conference in Denver, CO. Our attendees represented teachers, principals, libraries, funders, and conveners. Each of us left energized with new ideas to try.
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading, or GLR, includes more than 300 communities that support early literacy and early school success. The meeting brought local, regional, and national funders and philanthropies together to discuss work on reading improvement and research how to teach and support reading efforts. It was exciting to have the opportunity to ask questions and have in-depth conversations with leading researchers in reading development. I look forward to sharing some of this learning and exploring what efforts might support our community in East Central Iowa.
After attending several sessions, my biggest take away was that we should try to engage children to want to be in school. Some communities provide breakfast treats at bus stops, greeters at the school door, rain ponchos, gloves, or walking school buses. These efforts help remove barriers that prevent children from attending school.
Housing is a key need in Cedar Rapids. At the GLR conference, many sessions focused on how programs can bring reading into housing and apartment complexes in underserved neighborhoods. Learning about different activities in urban and mid-sized cities for children and parents was inspiring. The opportunity to model reading, provide access to books, and connect families with other resources in the community is an avenue for our RiS programs to explore.
Technology and reading is another big topic to research after seeing so many great examples at the GLR conference. There are many great apps, ebooks, and online tools parents can use to help teach their children.
The Reading into Success team plans to share many of our learning experiences and ideas from the Grade Level Reading Conference at our annual meeting in early September. We encourage the public to attend and hear more about what we learned and our ideas for how we will implement and grow these ideas here in the Cedar Rapids, Marion Independent, Linn-Mar, and College Community school districts. Stay tuned for more information on when and where our meeting will be.