This semester, our third grade students in the Dong Wu Xing Village Primary School had many opportunities to discuss books that they read. Before starting a discussion, the teacher would choose a suitable book based on students’ reading level and background. The students would then read the book using different formats. Sometimes the teacher would read aloud to the students and sometimes the students would read in small groups, pairs, or independently. The teacher prepared discussion questions and encouraged students to bring up question they wanted to discuss. This helped them to cultivate their thinking skills and empathy with characters and situations in the books.
This semester we will begin working with a new partner school, Dong Wu Xing Primary School. It has about 130 students who live in the surrounding village. At this school there is one period a day for reading. We will use this time to teach students some effective reading strategies and methods. In out-of-class time, we will also give students more opportunities to do meaningful reading writing and practice.
During the summer vacation, three RCEF curriculum developers and I went to Shanxi Qikou to attend a conference on rural reading education put on by Beijing Brooks NGO and the organization “Awaiting Spring". Beijing Brooks NGO had set up local libraries in Qikou for several rural primary schools. The purpose of the conference was to share experiences around the effective use of libraries for organizing reading activities and improving students' interest and abilities in reading.