• Lindsey Dorfman, KDL’s director of branch services and operations, gives a pep talk to Susan Erhardt, KDL Plainfield Branch youth librarian, and Austin Phillips, KDL Wyoming Branch youth parapro
  • GRPL assistant Chelsea McCoy helps third-grader Sam Corrado, of Knapp Charter Academy, select books
  • Jackie Boss (left), a KDL Comstock Park youth parapro, and Deb Schultz, KDL Alto Branch library assistant, run through learn-to-read exercises
  • A librarian fills out a sample read-at-home-action-plan during the training
  • KDL youth librarians Sara Magnuson, left, Ashley Smolinski discuss strategies to help elementary students meet the new third-grade reading law

Librarians Ready to Share ‘Joy of Reading’

Offering Families Help with Third-grade Reading Law

by Jaye Beeler  

Chelsea McCoy dives headfirst into imagination: wildly, enthusiastically, getting right on the floor with youngsters. It’s clear she wants to help them cultivate a love of reading.

McCoy asks a lot of questions: about the last book they read, their hobbies, what happened on their best day yet. She reaches for books as they answer, then lets them explore book jackets and flip through a few pages.

Grand Rapids Public LibraryThe Road to Reading series explores some of the reading activities you'll find in our schools as well as difficulties students may face when learning to read. The series also examines early childhood ties to literacy and new initiatives to help all children read. See our other series

The Grand Rapids Public Library is the proud supporter of The Road to Reading Series.

If You Go

What: Community Literacy Summit 2018 -- Reading by Third Grade: Our Shared Opportunity, Our Shared Responsibility

When: 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25

Eberhard Center, Grand Valley State University

Community leaders, institutional policy makers, parents, and educators are invited

$25 for general audience and $15 for students

Jan. 23, or sooner if they reach 200-participant capacity

Register online at the Literacy Center

“We want to get the right book in a child’s hands at the right time,” said McCoy, a library assistant at the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library.

But while she delights in encouraging young readers, McCoy has lately become a sounding board for worried parents who have come to the library with their child. The reason? The child’s Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) from his or her school -- a key component of the new state third-grade reading law.

Librarians, like McCoy, are primed to help parents and their children improve the student’s reading, so the student is at grade level by the end of third grade, as required by the law. K-3 students needing extra help are given IRIPs to help them get there.

Although parents have been hesitant to let her read the document, McCoy was briefed on all things IRIP during a training on the new law. The trainings were coordinated by Mike Nassar, director of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and conducted by early literacy coaches from Kent ISD.

In a partnership with Grand Rapids Public Library, Kent District Library and Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent ISD early literacy coaches has trained about 100 GRPL and KDL librarians to be literacy cheerleaders. As the IRIPs were introduced for the first time this school year, all KDL and GRPL branches are ready to stimulate and reinforce reading skills, and encourage parents to bring in their struggling reader for supplemental support.

Partnering to train 100 librarians in the new third-grade reading law were, from left, Mike Nassar, Community Literacy Initiative director at the Literacy Center of West Michigan; Lindsey Dorfman, director of branch services and operations at Kent District Library; and Marla Ehlers, assistant library director at the Grand Rapids Public LibraryAs third-grade reading proficiency varies anywhere from 23 percent to 76 percent across the county, Nassar hopes families will visit their local library branch to engage with reading.

“So the idea here is for us to leverage the librarians’ skills and services so families can come to the library and feel comfortable with needing and asking for help,” Nassar said.

What’s an IRIP?

The IRIP is required by law to identify the reading intervention services a child will receive, and to help remedy any deficiencies identified in an assessment given at the start of the school year. It may include a “Read at Home” plan to help support out-of-school reading, as well as the student’s strengths, areas of concern and a progress monitoring plan.

According to the law, by the 2019-20 school year all third-graders need to be within one year of grade level in reading or face retention. However the law allows several “good cause” exemptions, including the opportunity for parents to excuse their child from retention if approved by the local superintendent. Also, the M-STEP proficiency exam isn’t the sole measure; districts can refer to their own assessments in demonstrating a student’s proficiency.

A Teacher's Reading Tips for Parents

  • Read every day for at least 20 minutes. Read together or at the same time, so your child knows it's a priority and love for learning in your household.
  • Ask comprehension questions like: "If the story continued, what do you think would happen next?" or "Is there anything in this story that reminds you of something?"

When reading with your child, change it up to engage them:

  • Use different voices
  • Record your reading
  • Make your own books of favorite chants or songs to help build confidence and identify your child as a reader
  • Alternate sentences as you read together
  • Read lots of informational text on favorite topics: notice text features such as headings, captions, labels, etc.
  • Notice vocabulary and talk about words and the author's craft

Source: Jill Macauley, Stocking Elementary second-grade teacher

This year’s first-graders will be the first set of third-grade classes impacted by the new law, “so there is an urgency to this work,” said Marla Ehlers, GRPL assistant library director.

“The state wants us to look more closely at literacy, and we introduce literacy at birth,” Ehlers said. “Because talking, writing, reading, playing and singing are really important activities that support literacy.”

All concerned about helping students hope the librarian training on the IRIP gets to the heart of matter. Once the parent and student have signed the IRIP, parents might naturally visit their local library seeking help. Kent ISD early literacy coaches Christi Gilbert, Lisa Hendricks, Katie Momber and Sarah Shoemaker shared this and other information with the librarians at the two-hour training session.

The coaches are eager to help lower elementary students swoon over books, phonics, reading, fluency, vocabulary -- and to understand that reading is a living thing.

“Our goal is to help empower library staff to support reading - the joy of reading, to be a place for reading,” said Lindsey Dorfman, director of KDL’s branch services and operations. “We want to share that message, that we’re all working toward solving this.”


Third-Grade Reading Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Reading by Third Grade: Our Shared Opportunity, Our Shared Responsibility

Submitted on: January 16th 2018

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