Southampton Schools peddling ‘Bikes for Books’
Published 10:00 am Friday, November 7, 2014
In an effort to help children fall in love with reading, the Southampton County Public School District has designated November for promoting literacy at the four elementary schools.
School Superintendent Dr. Alvera J. Parrish and members of her cabinet have created a reading incentive program called “Bikes for Books” in an effort to motivate students to read and help raise test scores.
Southampton County schools had already used the Accelerated Reading Program to give children quizzes that tested their reading comprehension abilities. But at the board’s annual summer retreat, cabinet members realized that the way to increase a student’s desire to read was to find a motivational tool.
“We put our heads together and understood that the way to raise awareness or make children fall in love with reading was to give them an incentive,” said Director of Instruction Rodney Brown. “We want to lead by example, so each member of the board donated a bike to each school, allowing for every school to give away two bikes.”
Each day as the kids enter the school building, they see the two bikes on display, and Capron Elementary Principal Dr. Allison Francis has already seen that extra motivation pay dividends at her school.
“We monitor each child’s progress, and as of Nov. 5 we have already surpassed our total numbers from all of last year,” said Francis. “It’s a tremendous program.”
Every student has an equal chance of winning a bike and will receive a ticket with their name on for passing the quiz associated with each book. Francis explained that every quiz is different, and depending on the length and difficulty of the book, it can range anywhere from five to 10 questions.
The quizzes give both the students and teachers immediate feedback on the students’ retention of the book, but Brown was quick to point out that he personally has no expectations or benchmarks for the students or program.
“I really just want children to fall in love with reading a book,” he said. “I’d rather have them put down the video games and turn the television off and read a book for 20 minutes instead.”
Knowing that it’s difficult to monitor the students’ progress at home, the school designates opportunities for the children to read throughout the day. Brown said that teachers urge students to grab a book when they finish their homework, while the last 20 minutes of every school day are assigned for reading at Capron, not only for the kids, but for teachers as well.
In fact, if you were to peek your head into Francis’ office, you may see her reading her favorite children’s book, Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.”
Brown reiterated the notion that extra incentives will help the students read more, but he understands that it may not reflect in the test scores later this year.
“The daily quizzes are a little different than the passages that students may encounter come test time, but it’s going to help us help them prepare and help them understand the basic characters and ideas of what they’re reading.
“We understand that some children are already motivated, while many others need this extra encouragement,” Brown continued. “If this helps them become stronger readers, then the program is a success.”