As we all have faced difficultites during the pandemic, we look into ways to create collaborations and relationships with organizations and schools that have the same passion for the education in Puerto Rico. For such, we bridged out to create alliances with the vision that this could serve and impact students in the island.
With such in mind we started a series of 6 workshops on literacy, how the brain reads, phonological awareness, and structured approach to reading, among other topics. The teachers received knowledge, practice, and materials for them to put the learning into practice when the students come back to their classrooms in August, 2021.
To continue building those bridges, teachers from other communities with educational disadvantages were also invited and donation of materials and books was made for their tutoring centers.
We also continue to provide services throught our reading clinic, at this time still virtual throughout the intensive summer camp and very hopeful that we could start face to face starting August.
As we embark into new initiatives, we've set the goal of serving and providing more professionals the much needed awareness of structured literacy in Spanish. Our fundraising goal for the next academic year will be with such aim. We know that this will be the way to create a further impact in Puerto Rico.
Dear MRC Friends, During February, we celebrated the national Read Aloud Day on February 3rd.
It has been proven that reading aloud to children helps them create interests in books and reading themselves. Adults can serve as models for this activity. The educational campaign done during the week of February 3rd consisted of 6 educational videos for teachers and parents as well as a live read aloud. The feedback from those who connected was very positive.
MRC wants to share some of the experiences from the last few months and plans ahead:
As part of read aloud we want parents and/or caregivers- We intend to foster parents and caregivers to take time to read to their children. Reading 15 minutes a day with your child can expose them to 83 thousand words in a month. Our brains are not born ready to learn to read. Just as you supported your child by lending a hand so they could walk. The reading brain needs you. READ to your child. TALK to your child about BOOKS. It will result in increased language skills; it will make a difference.
Coordinating new Teacher Training for Fall 2021- Due to the hurricanes, earthquakes and the pandemic, MRC has not dobe a Teacher Training in the last 2 years. We are excited to start planning the next one for the fall of 2021. We are searching for teachers interested in the program as well as scholarships for them.
Teachers cannot give to their students what they do not possess (known as the “Peter Effect”). Every teacher, no matter the subject area, teaches reading. Therefore, teachers deserve to be well versed in the Science of Reading and its implications for literacy instruction; only then will they be equipped to address the literacy needs of their students. For such, we intend to do so during our certification program this way impacting more students.
New administrative structure. Even with the challenges at hand our organization has grown in initiatives in the past few years. For this reason, we have expanded our administrative structure and have created an academic director position. This will allow the academic director to focus on teachers, reading clinic and teacher training among others. While the executive director will focus on logistics, strategic planning and fundraising.
Our first webinar this year was Motivation in Learning: Challenges Faced Now a Days; Dr. Patricia Landers, Clinical and School Psychologist discussed motivation as well as provided strategies for parents and teachers.
Our next webinar in March will be on Social-Emotional Learning in school as students re integrate to their school campus and new routines need to be addressed.
Reading Clinic | The reading clinic continues providing one-on-one intervention services (virtually) despite the challenges of COVID. Our enrollment during the 2020-21 remains stable. Stories of success from students who received services uninterruptedly between January until June reveal an improvement.
Summer Program| We have started planning our summer program sending surveys to parents and teachers. We will plan for virtual or on campus pending on the authorizations of school to use classrooms and they return to in class. We have a target of 30 students we wish to fullfill during this summer.
During October, we celebrated the national #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth. Dyslexia means “difficulty with words” and refers to the most common learning disability seen in approximately 17% of the student population. The lack of automatic word recognition skills often results in an inability to read with understanding, making the act of reading a failed one.
MRC wants to share some of our most important lessons learned during our years in the field of literacy:
For teacher preparation programs- Teachers cannot give to their students what they do not possess (known as the “Peter Effect”). The Science of Reading is based on research findings of over 30 years from the field of cognitive neuroscience. Every teacher, no matter the subject area, teaches reading.Therefore, teachers deserve to be well versed in the Science of Reading and its implications for literacy instruction; only then will they be equipped to address the literacy needs of their students.
For school administrators- Reading with comprehension requires both decoding and language comprehension skills. Language arts programs must offer instruction in both of these areas. Ideally we should be offering differentiated phonics instruction to students within language rich environments where students are constantly exposed to vocabulary and knowledge through books, books, books, and more books.
For educators- Automatic word recognition is the main difference between skilled and struggling readers. Being able to establish a link between pronunciation and meaning of words allows the brain to store words in its long term memory freeing up space to focus on comprehension. Teaching phonics in a systematic and explicit manner is a way to “even the playing field”. A child who has access to words will learn vocabulary and acquire knowledge.
For parents and/or caregivers- Our brains are not born ready to learn to read. Just as you supported your child by lending a hand so they could walk. The reading brain needs you. READ to your child. TALK to your child about BOOKS. It will result in increased language skills; it will make a difference. Just 15 minutes of reading with your child a day can expose them to 1 million written words in a year.
For local policy makers in Puerto Rico- By now public school students have missed approximately 165 days of school. Denying students access to education increases the likelihood of learning to read becoming a rich man’s game. Learning to read is having access to knowledge.Puerto Rico cannot afford leaving the future of this island behind.
#Webinars | We began this special month with a webinar by Dr. Tridas, "The Perfect Storm: Inattention, Dyslexia, and Anxiety". The discussion included the impact that these disorders have in the social emotional development and learning of students, as well as strategies for their management. The 88 participants walked away with a sense of responsibility for aiding students in developing coping mechanisms as “it is not our fault but it is our problem.”
#ReadingClinic | The reading clinic continues providing one-on-one intervention services (virtually) despite the challenges of COVID. Our enrollment during the 2020-21 remains stable. Stories of success from students who received services uninterruptedly between January until June reveal an improvement of two grade levels in word recognition, paired with an average increase of 60% in reading fluency and of 15% on comprehension measures.
Even when we were unaware of it, we ended the school year with a celebration of books. Right before the world came to a stop, our Readers for the Future had been enthralled by our Reading Olympics.
During the last week of February they celebrated the grand opening of our month long event by singing their own hymn. Our Readers spent two weeks immersed into books and excited at the possibility of taking their newly met treasures home. Every Friday, students were eager to share the new adventures they had discovered while independently reading books to their family members with high school student volunteers.
In March, quarantine began but our team continued hard at work. At first we planned for the possibility of continuing services for our Readers for the Future, but we soon realized that less than half had internet access. In an effort to ensure that our students had access to books, we organized What’sApp chats and for the duration of the semester posted books in PDF format and designed corresponding activity sheets for them to continue practicing literacy skills in a fun way at home. 17% of parents remained active in the chat and expressed much gratitude towards our endeavour.
To continue fulfilling our mission of fostering effective literacy instruction for all students, especially those with a language based learning disability, our teachers set out to design, create and deliver continued education via webinars. At the core of MRC we believe that growing professionals is the most effective way to guarantee that student’s needs are met. A knowledgeable teacher who continues to learn helps all students flourish and translates into a greater impact. To that end a series of seven webinars on a variety of topics regarding literacy development (ex. dyslexia, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and writing) will be presented beginning May 22nd through June 26th. Our first two webinars have impacted a total of 155 educators on the island. We have been able to gather feedback from 60% of the participants of which 98% express that webinars have exceeded their expectations and that they would participate in additional professional development opportunities.
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