By Gwyn Reeves – Loveland, Colorado … A hands-on approach is key to a new language arts program implemented at HMS Richards Adventist School in Loveland, Colorado.

“Unlocking the Reading Code” incorporates an interactive approach to teaching students reading and writing from kindergarten through fourth grade. Teachers comment that students are enjoying the new program.

“Students are excited about it,” Alisha Anderson, third and fourth-grade teacher, commented; “It’s forcing them to think in ways they haven’t before. I think it will improve their reading abilities for the long term as it gives the kids a better understanding of words and their meanings.”

The program focuses on teaching kids the fundamental building blocks that will better their reading and speech skills. Teachers have been doing special training to lead this program. In Kari Lange’s first and second-grade classroom, students have an individual binder filled with items like colorful blocks, comic strips, and other manipulatives to be used during language arts time.

“I like it because it has my favorite colors in it. It’s kinda hard to pay attention sometimes, but I like using my hands and doing the super-fast pictures,” Caspian, a first-grader, said.

Typically, students will take out their binder, and Lange, depending on the lesson, may ask them to listen and be able to use blocks to identify specific letters sounds. She may also ask students to break apart word sounds (phoneme segmentation) by counting them on their hands. Lange works one-on-one with students doing timed tests asking them to name as many pictures, using correct pronunciation, as they can in a minute.

Teachers will continue extensive training in this new program through the Rocky Mountain Conference and are looking forward to seeing the positive effects on the students’ reading and writing abilities, explained Lange.

–Gwyn Reeves, Campion Academy senior; photos supplied