Carroll Middle School teachers and administrators say the Read 2 Win (R2W) literacy initiative continues to get students excited about reading for pleasure. R2W, the brainchild of Karla Sisson, Carroll Academic Reading Enhancement (C.A.R.E.) teacher, began in 2008 as a small pilot program.
“Several years ago, I noticed an increasing number of students who did not show any interest in reading, “ Sisson said. “Our librarian also noted a decrease in circulation, and teachers expressed concern at the lack of interest in reading from students.”
Sisson began researching incentive programs and educational theories of what worked and didn’t work with the middle school non-reader. After meeting with language art teachers, she met with CMS Principal, Matt Miller, who encouraged her to start a campus based reading program.
Sisson designed R2W as a reward based reading program. Each time a student completed a book, they received a ticket to put into a raffle bin in the library. At the end of the six-weeks, a teacher would draw names for gift cards. Initially, participation was negligible and the gift cards were five dollars.
“Unfortunately, the first year of the program wasn’t as popular as I’d envisioned,” Sisson said. “We had approximately 25 percent participation and the prizes were not as alluring as I’d hoped.”
Not one to give up, Sisson asked Miller if the school could designate days during Dragon Den (homeroom) for R2W. He not only agreed, he offered to help secure funding for more attractive awards. Miller approached the CMS PTSO about providing larger prizes for the program and they readily agreed.
“Our PTSO has been instrumental in supporting R2W by providing gift cards to give away each six-weeks and Kindles to give away to Grand Prize winners each semester,” Miller said.
Students agree that the prizes are motivation to read. CMS student, Will Meagher said, “I really wanted to win that Kindle!”
As a result, the program has grown and the number of readers has too.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of tickets in the bin over the last two years so we know the drawings have motivated students to read and complete more books,” Miller said.
Encouraging reluctant readers can be challenging. Miller advises parents to find their child’s interests and match those interests with newspapers, cartoons, magazines, and books.
“As long as a child is reading something they are interested in, they will be more inclined to read for pleasure,” Miller said.
This year, Sisson added the CMS Book Club to the R2W program. Interested students meet for a book chat and a snack and choose the next book to read.
“It’s fun to see what other people are reading,” CMS student Haylee Burks said.
“I have high hopes that this will be another way to get our students to read and become lifelong readers and learners,” Sisson said. “R2W works because students have come to understand that reading is valued on our campus.”