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June 15, 2010 > Kindergarten student is a classic reader

Kindergarten student is a classic reader

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Miriam G. Mazliach

While most kindergarteners are learning their ABCs, six-year-old Rebecca Chang is speeding her way through advanced level reading books.

Teacher Steve Spencer heads an Accelerated Reading (AR) program for the Kindergarten team of teachers at Warwick Elementary School, where Rebecca attends. Participating in AR is the "Challenge Group," students identified as above grade level. While the rest of the class is receiving English language instruction, Spencer meets with the Challenge Group. "For the first time since using AR, a kindergarten student has qualified as a "Classic Reader" and I'm amazed at her ability at such a young age," says Spencer.

In order to qualify for "Classic Reader" designation, a student must read three books independently at 6th grade level or higher and pass the Reading Practice Quizzes for each book. Rebecca had already qualified for all previous levels including Ready Reader, Independent Reader, Rising Reader, Super Reader, Advanced Reader and Star Reader. She has now achieved Classic Reader, the 7th level, with over 97 points. The final level of Honors Reader is reached by accumulating 100 points and passing the related quizzes from a list of challenging, teacher-selected literature.

Spencer has created colorful button pins for students when they achieve these reading plateaus. "The AR Challenge class is really transformative. It's something that motivates the kids."

Rebecca's mom didn't realize that her daughter was such an amazing reader until she saw her reading the Magic Tree House books. "She loved books at a young age and I read books to her every night. That's the way she went to sleep. Rebecca went to a Montessori Pre-School from the ages of two to five where her curiosity was first spurred on. I also taught her with the 'Hooked on Phonics' program. Before age four, Rebecca completed all the levels and after that she could start reading picture books on her own at age four and a half," says her mother.

Rebecca was recently recognized by the Fremont Unified School District Board as one of the Young Authors' Contest winners for her book, The Magic Cloud. "When I wrote the book 'The Magic Cloud,' I thought of the title first. It's about a drop of water that turns into a magic cloud and takes on different shapes," explains Rebecca. She also drew the illustrations. Her mother thinks Rebecca got inspired because she likes to watch clouds in the sky with her younger brother.

Barbara Carson, Rebecca's Kindergarten teacher, adds, "I definitely notice that when we do writing, she will do page after page. When Rebecca's done she enjoys helping the other students in the class and the kids want her to help them," says Carson. "Rebecca's been fabulous as a student."

Besides her remarkable reading abilities, Rebecca is just like most six-year-olds. She is interested in many other activities such as swimming, ice skating, gymnastics and piano.

"She holds a very positive attitude towards lots of things and she enjoys learning as well as playing," says Rebecca's mom. "She thinks many things are fun and is eager to try them, given a chance."

"I'm very grateful for the encouragement and support of Mr. Spencer and Ms. Carson," she says. "The AR program could be a very good tool, boosting readers to dive into the ocean of literature. I had some doubts about it initially as Rebecca was leveling up so fast, and I thought she might get frustrated, but it turned out to be fine."

A few days after this interview, Rebecca surpassed the 100 points required for the 8th and final Accelerated Reader level, achieving "Honors Reader" status.

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