Reading Out-loud Creates Knowledge
Elementary teachers know that children respond to animals. So teachers in the Washington Township School District (Morris County) have developed a program that combines literacy and therapy dogs. In The R.O.C.K. (Reading Out-loud Creates Knowledge), special education students in grades 2-5 will read out loud to a therapy dog who serves as a non-judgmental listener while the youngsters improve their literacy skills. Through a $9,480 grant from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education and Verizon, children will get excited about reading more challenging material in this non-threatening environment.
Teachers Lynn Livingston, Lenore MacKenzie, Eleanor Bodei, Cade Warrener, Barbara McAuliffe, Pat Wustefeld, and Jill Tynan will ensure that the program’s repeated reading strategy results in improved reading fluency, word attack skills, and comprehension. Academic growth increases as the program helps cultivate interpersonal and self-management skills and improves self-esteem. In addition, digital cameras will be used to record the therapy dog visits. Some of these pictures will become reflective writing prompts for the students to record their experiences. A scrapbook of pictures with captions and written responses will be kept to create a chronological diary.
Parents will support the program by taking an active part in their child's reading preparation and by serving as guest readers, visiting the class to read aloud to the students in order to expose them to books in the R.O.C.K. library.
Verizon supports family literacy programs in which public school educators partner with libraries or other community organizations and is an NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education partner.
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