Cascade Ridge students embrace reading, technology in schoolwide contest

May 1, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

Ella Matias, 6, shows off her Eager Reader minutes. Contributed

If the students at Cascade Ridge Elementary School had a dollar for every minute they read last month, they’d be a long way toward paying for college.

At the beginning of April, the children were challenged to track how much time they spent reading for pleasure outside class. The numbers were tallied April 27 and in the end the students had read for 628,191 minutes — well over 10,000 hours.

“As an Eager Reader rep, it’s shocking to me they are reading significantly more this year than in the last,” said Stacey Foreman, who helped encourage her daughter’s third-grade class to participate in Cascade Ridge’s PTA reading challenge, Eager Readers. “I don’t know if the hype session worked really well or it’s the new electronic system or e-readers — the feedback is that they love it.”

The PTA has been putting on the program for several years to encourage children to view reading as something enjoyable, instead of a duty.

“All the reading had to be away from school … you are supposed to get pleasure out of it,” Eager Reader co-chairwoman Peggy Rodman said.

At the end of the four-week program, students and classes earned prizes depending on how many minutes they read. The contest is voluntary. This year, nearly 90 percent of Cascade Ridge students took part. In years past, the students recorded their minutes on paper. But this year a tech-savvy parent, Rajeev Goel, built a webpage where children could record their minutes, see their tally and earn badges when they reached higher reading levels.

“He made it so easy,” Rodman said. “I think because he is a very involved father with his daughters he gets it.”

“Well, you go to the Cascade Ridge website, then there’s an aisle by the side of the computer and a little thing that says ‘Eager Reader’ and you click on that,” said 6-year-old Priya Goel as she explained step by step how she recorded her minutes each day. The kindergarten student read as many as 116 minutes one day and said her favorite are reading books from the “Rainbow Magic” series. “Some sentences are funny … It’s fun getting on the computer.”

Six-year-old Ella Matias also likes the “Rainbow Magic” series. She read for nearly 1,000 minutes.

“I always want to prove my minutes all by myself,” she said. “I like that I can just go online and just start typing away.”

“It’s really easy,” said Faith Foreman, a fifth-grade student.

The 10-year-old explained that when she recorded her minutes on a piece of paper, she worried about losing it and said that it’s fun to log on and see how much the other classes have read.

“I stay up a lot at night and just read,” Faith said. “It’s a lot easier [to read on her Kindle] because you can bring up the definition of every word you don’t understand.”

Faith and her little sister, Aliah, both got e-readers for Christmas from their grandmother.

“I like reading my Kindle because it saves your spot and you can have lots of books on your Kindle at one time,” said 8-year-old Aliah, who read for more than 1,100 minutes in April. “You just open your Kindle and you can find whatever book you want to read.”

Fourth-grade student Anjali Goel decided to read “Little Women” on an electronic tablet, but isn’t so sure that the traditional way of reading and recording minutes isn’t better.

“Overall, I think it’s cool, but I think I’d rather have a book book because once again, on the iPad the connection is kind of slow and it takes a while to load and get the page ready,” she said. “I’m really enjoying it. I’m kind of sad it’s the last week … but I like the paper and pencil way. You don’t have to log on and all that stuff — you just find your form and write.”

When all was said and done April 27 the students celebrated with a giant ice cream social at school. With a total of 45,788 minutes, Marilyn Jochim’s third-grade class read the most. Erin Perea’s fifth-grade science tech class came a close second with 43,125 minutes. Of the younger students, who were also allowed to count time that their parents read to them, Toni Osotio’s kindergarten class read for more than 16,000 minutes.

Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242 or ltucker@sammamishreview.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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