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How BISD Students Become Readers

During class reading lessons, students practice good listening and sharing skills.


When Kelly Pellegrino teaches reading, it seems more like her first-grade students are participating in a book club than a traditional classroom lesson. That’s because the foundation of  the new reading and writing curriculum for grades K-2 (developed by the Center for Collaborative Literacy) is built on having a supportive class community. And, a strong community  involves actively listening and sharing. 

During a recent lesson on the book Curious George Goes Camping, Pellegrino asked the students who could relate to George. Hands shot up. “I once got lost like George did,” said one.  “I like roasting marshmallows like George does,” said another. And so it went. As they read through the book, Pellegrino paused to define unfamiliar vocabulary, or to discuss the plot. She also gave gentle reminders on how to share (use a nice speaking volume so everyone can hear) and how to listen (turn your body towards the person speaking).

“The stories for each lesson are stories that are interesting to the students,” said Pellegrino. “The characters have problems that the students can relate to in the fictional text. For the informational text, the facts are appropriate for students at this particular age.”

Along with reading comprehension, the curriculum practices phonics and sight words — all important components in becoming a reader.  

“There can be a wide range of reading levels within a classroom,” said Sheryl Belt, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. “Students acquire skills necessary for effective and efficient reading and writing at varied rates. This means teachers need to have a wide range of reading materials easily available to meet the differentiated needs of all students.”  

BISD piloted the new curriculum last year, and the School Board officially adopted it late last spring. This fall, K-2 teachers were trained on the curriculum, and it was implemented district-wide.