Let’s Chat... An Interview with Cherokee School’s Reading Specialists: Traci Franksen and Jewel Jensen
This month APT Chat is highlighting specialized reading help available to children beyond standard classroom instruction.As Chat reporter, I had the pleasure of interviewing two teaching gems of Cherokee school, reading specialists Traci Franksen and Jewel Jensen.We spoke in the bright, book-filled Team Read room and this is what I learned: Combined, they have over 40 years of teaching experience, much of it within District 67.Their purpose is to provide focused reading instruction.At Cherokee this reading instruction is provided to K-2 students through a program called Team Read and for students grades 3-4, through what is called Reading Support.In addition to these two specialists, Cherokee school has two dedicated reading aides, Miss Nicole Zahnen and Mrs.Stacey Dohrmann, helping make reading education at Cherokee top notch.Below is a paraphrase of the interview.
Q: What is your education background?
Mrs. Franksen: I’ve been a teacher for 24 years, all with District 67. I have been a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and have worked as a special education teacher. I have been at Cherokee for 4 years; this is my first year as a reading specialist. I have a Master’s Degree in Special Education and am currently pursuing an MA in Reading and Literacy Education which I will complete in summer of 2010.
Mrs. Jensen: I’ve been a teacher for 19 years. I was a classroom teacher first and then began work in reading recovery at the middle school level. I’ve been at Cherokee in reading education for 5 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Education and also a Master’s Degree in Reading Education.
Q: In addition to solid classroom reading instruction, what does specialized reading education at Cherokee look like?
Mrs. Franksen: Grades K-2 are associated with the “Team Read” program. This is a district wide program. At Cherokee all students grades K-1 go to the Team Read classroom with their teacher weekly (located past the offices on the first floor). In this setting, children are divided into small reading groups at tables with a teacher or reading specialist for each group. In second grade the entire classroom no longer goes to Team Read but those students who would benefit from additional reading help can receive 30-60 minutes of reading support in the Team Read room daily. This type of work supports reading progression, phonics, spelling patterns and reinforces word wall words.
Q: Students in grades 3 and 4 receive Reading Support using both push-in and pull-out strategies.
On Mondays and Tuesdays I co-teach the classroom reading anthology book with 3rd and 4th grade teachers, rotating my time for an entire theme in one classroom. Typically students that would benefit from additional support, based upon leveled testing scores are also pulled out of the classroom ½ an hour, five times a week or 1 hour three times per week for more focused instruction. In addition, Traci and I co-teach reading comprehension strategies with the classroom teachers in their classrooms to all students. We bring six lessons such as Visualization, Making Predictions, and Connections. We teach evaluative and inferential skills and even provide ISAT practice.
Q: How do children become involved with Team Read and Reading Support?
Mrs. Jenson and Mrs. Franksen: All children are assessed for reading progression. That is one of the things we do much better now than years ago. We assess the need for instruction and with some students we track weekly progression. As mentioned earlier, all K and 1st grade students use the Team Read room as part of their daily reading education.
Q: What recommendations do you have for parents who are encouraging their early readers at home?
Mrs. Jensen: READ, READ, READ, and RE-READ at home. Read to your children, with your children.
Mrs. Franksen: Model reading behavior for your children; have printed materials at your home—magazines, recipes, newspapers and books. Let them see you reading and writing.
Q: What is the favorite part of your day?
Mrs. Jensen: I like all of my day, but I think my favorite thing is when students are excited about reading, when I see them in the hall and they want to tell me what they read and they share their excitement with me. I also really like to see the progress the students are making.
Mrs. Franksen: One thing I really enjoy is the coaching and planning that I get to do with the classroom teachers. I really enjoy the whole-group lessons and the collaborative classes that we teach.
Q: What can we expect to see that is new for reading at Cherokee?
Mrs. Jensen: Principal Krumes has purchased and, I think, personally delivered books to each classroom to promote our Emotional Wellness curriculum. Students will be hearing and reading those books in their classrooms.
Q: Can you recommend some of your favorite books?
Mrs. Franksen: Napping House by Audrey Wood, King Gidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Audrey Wood, Rosie and Michael by Judith Viorst, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (series) by Laura Joffe Numeroff, Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, Chester’s Way, by Kevin Henkes, and Just a Dream, by Chris Van Allsburg.
Mrs. Jensen: For 3rd Graders I like the Encyclopedia Brown series and also The Boxcar Children, series. For 4th graders, the Magic School Bus books are a big favorite as well as the adventure stories of Gary Paulsen, such as Amos Binder, Secret Agent, Brian’s Winter, Canoe Days. Kids also seem to enjoy the Johanna Harwitz books, Class Clown, and Class President.
For parents who have concerns about the reading progression of their child, Mrs. Franksen (K-2) and Mrs. Jenson (3-4) encourage you to speak with your classroom teacher or contact them directly by e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com