2017-03-05 / Insight

Technology supplements reading education in Almont schools

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Orchard Primary Principal Jennifer Szlachta and speech therapist Tricia Bellinger perform a live presentation of “Rainbow Fish.” 
Photo by Phil Foley Orchard Primary Principal Jennifer Szlachta and speech therapist Tricia Bellinger perform a live presentation of “Rainbow Fish.” Photo by Phil Foley ALMONT — Although Almont Community Schools is the first district in the county that’s committed to one-toone technology — with every student K-12 issued a tablet or laptop computer — the district is still committed to books.

Along with a well-stocked media center, every Almont classroom has a small library or basket of books, said Superintendent Bill Kalmar.

Kalmar helped kick off March is Reading Month last week with a dramatic reading of “Rainbow Fish” for the begindergarden through first-grade classes at Orchard Primary.

Reading to young children consistently, Kalmar said, is one of the keys to literacy. “The battle for good readers,” he said, “is in the home.”

Kalmar, who’s headed up Almont Schools since December, said reading experts agree the more parents read to young children at home, the larger their vocabularies become.

He said the biggest challenge at Almont schools is “trying to meet the kids’ reading needs at all levels.” Kalmar said that can differ from desk to desk in the same classroom.

One researcher, Richard Allenton, believes reading success can be bolstered by getting kids to read at a high volume at a level that’s appropriate. Early elementary students, Kalmar said, “are like little wood chippers. They go through books at a high volume.”

To keep that level of interest, Kalmar said it’s important for schools and parents to keep a supply of books that keep children’s interest. He noted, “How many kids can out pronounce their parents on long complicated dinosaur names?”

Kalmar sees technology as a “force multiplier” for reading, but it’s not a replacement. Critical reading skills, he said, are necessary for “high-order thinking.” More than ever, he said, it’s important for people to be able to evaluate sources and understand complex texts.

He said that while he’s only been in Almont a short time, he’s found it’s a community that places a high value on literacy.

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