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February 19, 2015

Marcela's Story: Channeling enthusiasm from storytelling to reading

Marcela is a bright, enthusiastic fouth grader from Arlington Heights Elementary with a flair for creative storytelling. Whether you find her in the cafeteria, on the playground, or in class, Marcela stirs the imagination of those around her with epic tales of danger, heroism, and yes, even romance.

When Marcela first joined Reading Partners in September, she would plow through the text with reckless abandon—making many mistakes along the way—just to get her reading over with. What Marcela needed most, was the caring attention of a trained volunteer to model attentive reading.

Marcela found the support she needed and more in AmeriCorps Site Coordinator Matt Schaefer. For most of the year, Marcela worked one-on-one with Matt every week, and she could not have asked for a more suitable reading partner. In their first session together, Matt spotted the bright orange binding of the latest book in the Diary of Wimpy Kid series peeking out of Marcela’s backpack. Matt leaned in and confided that Wimpy Kid was also his favorite. This catapulted Marcela and Matt’s partnership, and they became fast friends.

With Matt’s guidance, Marcela has become an independent reader and her reading has improved dramatically. Matt offers positive reinforcement to help Marcela become excited about reading. After learning that Marcela loved stickers, Matt rewarded her with a sticker for each new reading skill she mastered. After the reading session, she proudly shows them off to her friends.

At the beginning of year, Marcela needed close attention and motivation when reading. Now, she can read on her own with success and enjoys it. She has slowed down, internalized skills like chunking and sounding out words, and uses evidence from the text to answer questions.

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