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A veritable reading explosion

New program in Naujaat teaches through play
Tugaalik High School teacher Joyce Graham-Royal was particularly proud when one of her students showed they had learned compound words from the ‘Reading Explosion’ program. Photo courtesy of Joyce Graham-Royal

It’s not just a reading activity, class or even adventure – no, it’s an explosion.

“We dubbed it ‘reading explosion’ because we wanted a catchy name,” said Joyce Graham-Royal, a teacher at Naujaat’s Tugaalik High School.

The new program sees students invited to attend a literacy class on Saturdays to engage in activities to improve their reading, speaking and comprehension of English.

“What we are hoping to achieve is to increase the literacy level among all of our students,” said Graham-Royal. “We want to also improve students’ confidence in their literacy skills.”

And a main goal of the program is to be fun.

“We had 16 kids,” said Graham-Royal proudly about the first session in March.

They ranged from Grades 7 to 12, and Graham-Royal along with fellow teacher Erika Thompson used current events to create literacy games.

“Our students prefer to be actively involved,” said Graham-Royal. “They prefer to be moving. And so, we have grounded our approach in the whole idea of play.”

One student asked about the conflict in Ukraine with Russia. Graham-Royal and Thompson were prepared with articles, and they used the class to go through news stories on the war, dramatize the sides and even roleplay as if they were in it.

“They were so good, and these are not children who usually like to talk too much,” said Graham-Royal. “We got what we wanted – we wanted them to talk.”

Thompson said literacy-based games that incorporate technology help students learn their analytical skills while having a good time.

“We find that students are developing important skills but also it’s maintaining their interest in what they’re doing, so they’re having fun and also learning,” she said.

Another game they played was using hoops to learn about verbs. Students would do an activity with a hoop – jumping in it, rolling it – and other students would find the right verbs to describe what they were doing.

The program is all new and will run for two years. Students who attend 85 per cent of the Saturday sessions will be eligible to receive an iPad at the end.

In the long run, the teachers hope the program will have spinoff benefits on students’ performance.

“What we’ve found was that whenever they speak good English, their performance in other disciplines tended to be better,” said Graham-Royal.