Growth spurt in reading measured by shirts – School News Network

East Grand Rapids – Frankie Ellis squinted and took a closer look at the graphic on his classmate’s shirt as he smoothed out the creases.

“What does that say?” the second-year student wondered as he scanned the black letters printed on the fabric.

Then, recognition: “Oh! It’s a poem about bears!

Across the hall, Aaron Bowman, another second-grader, wore a shirt with the letters “EGRA Waves” printed in a highly stylized font. He noticed that some of his classmates had trouble reading the letters, so he tried to help them.

“Yes, it’s an E,” he encouraged a peer. “At least it’s not in cursive. His shirt is in cursive letters” – he pointed to a teacher – “and it’s much harder to read.

Frankie, Aaron and the rest of the Wealthy Elementary sophomores had fun with “Read a T-shirt Day,” where they got to put some of their newfound reading skills to use reading words and sentences on the their classmates’ shirts and write down the words they found. The activity marked the end of their first reading unit, Second Grade Reading Growth Spurt.

“(Students) learn to take charge of their reading, build endurance, fluency and comprehension,” teacher Christen Sarjeant said of her class’s work. “They work hard to solve difficult words, using a variety of strategies, noticing word patterns and relationships, and increasing vocabulary. … So much hard work deserves a celebration of reading.

Part of the festive aspect of Read a T-Shirt day was the opportunity to do the activity with Wealthy’s three sophomore classes. Classes don’t have a lot of opportunities to learn together, so for everyone to gather in the hallway and get to know their peers while working on reading skills was a treat, Sarjeant said.

After filling in their worksheets with the words and phrases they found, the Sarjeant students gathered in class to share what they discovered by reading their friends’ shirts. Some of the reading material they noticed and wrote about included:

  • A “vowel team” – two O’s in a row
  • Flash words, or “words you should know at a glance, like ‘from'”
  • many syllables
  • A vowel that “breaks the rules” (sounds different than you expect)
  • silent letters

Cecilia Abraham said she could already tell she was becoming a better reader. How?

“If there’s a word I can’t read, then I repeat it over and over, until it makes sense,” she said.

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