Student presents before state superintendent

By Sam Wildow -

COLUMBUS — Washington Primary student Ian Westerheide represented his school last week when presenting REACH program modules before Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross. Westerheide went with Piqua City Schools Superintendent Rick Hanes and the curriculum director Theresa Anderson before the Ohio Controlling Board for Ohio’s Straight A Fund, including the state superintendent, state interim superintendent, and other legislators.

“He went through one of the REACH modules, which is something that kindergarten and first grade students are all doing,” Westerheide’s mother, Lori Westerheide, said about the presentation. Ian Westerheide’s presentation included a module that was about rhyming words. “He was typing up words with Mrs. Anderson … They were demonstrating how students were using the module.”

The REACH — Reading Expands All Children’s Horizons — program at Piqua City Schools is helping kindergartners and first graders improve their reading skills through learning modules installed on their Chromebooks, which were funded by PBS Dayton through a grant. Students work with their Chromebooks in the classroom and also continue the learning at home with their parents.

“It’s something that we do at home,” Lori Westerheide said.

“There are around 15 lessons for each grade level,” Washington Primary Principal Mindy Gearhardt said. “They can be as simple from the alphabet to discussing characters within a story.”

Gearhardt explained that the modules are interactive and may include watching a video or reading a text on a screen. Then the student will have questions to answer, such as answering who the characters were in a story. The lessons may also ask the student to compare two different texts.

Lori Westerheide also explained that they are not just using REACH modules on the Chromebooks, but her son is also able to access the websites that his other teachers are using for lessons as well. On one of those websites, children who read through level-books are rewarded with stars, and with enough stars, they can build a virtual rocket ship.

For children, the websites and modules may seem like video games, but they are keeping the student engaged with their learning.

“I would say that these games are definitely educational,” Lori Westerheide said. With both the modules and the websites, Lori Westerheide’s son is able to show her what he learned in school each day rather than simply tell her.

The modules are not there to just help improve students’ reading skills, but they also help parents invest in their children’s reading capabilities.

“It’s expanding their reading to what they can work with parents at home,” Gearhardt said. There is also time for students to do the modules at school during the day and opportunities for families who do not have internet to use the school’s wireless internet.

“It’s mainly getting parents and their children to do some interactive, school-related activities at home,” Gearhardt said.

By Sam Wildow

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall

Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall