Reading is fundamental
New Bayonne district programs stress word knowledge, increased reading
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Aug 27, 2014 | 2644 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE OTHER HALF – Bayonne boys aren’t the only athletes to make their mark in the school district. Members of the schools' girls' teams aim to fly high, like this hurdler.
THE OTHER HALF – Bayonne boys aren’t the only athletes to make their mark in the school district. Members of the schools' girls' teams aim to fly high, like this hurdler.
It’s not exactly reading, writing and arithmetic, but it’s pretty close. This year the focus of the Bayonne School District will be on reading, vocabulary, and eating well.

Goals for students include higher comprehension, increased reading levels, better health, and greater competitiveness in school and in their futures.

The learning this year begins with the Words Their Way program.

“The Bayonne Public Schools adopted Words Their Way as part of a comprehensive effort to move our literacy program into the 21st century,” said Schools Superintendent Patricia McGeehan.

A word study initiative of phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction, the program seeks to help students develop and strengthen their foundational language skills that are at the heart of the Common Core Standards mandated by law, according to McGeehan.

Since students vary in their developmental levels, WTW allows teachers to better serve the needs of children by tailoring their learning activities.

The program provides the extra phonics that many young learners in the school system need, McGeehan said. The program also has a technology component that may be used to engage and motivate students to learn more.

Along those lines, the system’s 100 Book Challenge academic support program is being implemented in eight of the city’s grammar schools to provide a literacy boost.

“It’s an independent reading program designed to maximize the effectiveness of a school’s reading curriculum,” said Curriculum Administrator Dennis Degnan.

“Its goal is to develop avid, lifelong readers, students whose proficiency in, and love of reading, enable them to flourish thoroughout their lives; in the classroom, on standardized tests, and at college,” he said.

The 100 Book Challenge accomplishes this by increasing the amount of reading students are expected to do. It calls for a minimum of 30 minutes of independent reading each day in school and another 30 minutes at home.

“It provides each student with a selection of hundreds of books matched to their reading level, and allows each of them to choose the books they want to read,” Degnan said.

Supervision is constant and coordinated, as students will track the amount of reading they complete on log sheets that are signed by parents and reviewed daily by their teachers. Teachers will also regularly hold individual conferences with students to gauge their understanding of what they have read and to set goals for future reading.

Arabic Family Literacy Project

Another learning effort being introduced to the school system is the Arabic Family Literacy Project.

Implemented to provide cost-effective parental involvement in programs, it also includes a training component for teachers.

“The literacy programs and training programs offered through this are designed to establish family reading routines for Arabic- and English-speaking parents and their children,” McGeehan said.

It introduces family reading, vocabulary development, and English-language development for parents and children.

Smaller in scope to the other programs, it will take place at Robinson School on Wednesday nights, with a childcare service provided.

Healthy Schools Program

Realizing that a healthy mind and body work in tandem in helping students learn at optimal levels, the school district has decided to partner with the Healthy Schools Program.

“It helps create a healthier school environment by promoting physical activity and healthy eating,” McGeehan said.

The program addresses school meals, health education, physical education, and student wellness.

It also provides professional support and technical assistance.

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