Aspen Valley Middle School has a rich media environment and fosters a love of reading. Students often start at Aspen as reluctant readers but soon become enthusiastic readers. We accomplish this transformation through the rich resources we make available and, more importantly, through the individualized conversations that the staff have with students about reading.
During Circle class, a student's first class of the day, students work on Self-Regulated Learning skills like organization, goal setting, planning, self-monitoring, and reflection; but students also engage with their mentor/teacher in individualized conversations about literature. Mentors guide students in their reading, make recommendations about books, carry on frequent conversations about their books, and monitor their success with reading. During every Circle class, students are also expected to engage in Silent Sustained Reading (SSR), and the staff is very successful in promoting a school culture in which everyone reads. On any given day, you can expect that all students are reading during Circle and that the school is completely silent and engaged.
Our literacy teachers maintain large classroom libraries, and research shows that classroom libraries greatly increase the literacy outcomes of students. The school also maintains a school library that students can access.
All of these interventions result in a rich reading environment, and our reading test scores show it. More importantly, students recognize their substantial progress in reading, and they experience the improved sense of self-efficacy that goes with that progress.