As our new school year has begun with students heading into new learning in new environments, some questions remained about the reading habits and opportunities over the summer break for Room 10 @ Ruapotaka 2016 for my Spark-MIT inquiry. How much reading was undertaken over the holidays? Did students participate in the Summer Learning Journey? What levels of engagement were evident? What has been the impact on reading achievement? How were whānau engaged in supporting reading over the summer?
By December 2016, 15 learners remained in Room 10’s control group for this inquiry. Of these, four actively participated in Manaiakalani’s holiday blogging programme, the Summer Learning Journey: two learners published 20 posts each; one learner shared 18 posts; and the fourth student published seven posts. Three of these learners had access to the internet and a digital device at home while one learner visited the public library to complete all blogging activities. It should be noted that there were barriers to student participation in the Summer Learning Journey as all student chromebooks were kept at school over the summer. Also, anecdotal evidence from students suggests that a number of families and whānau who actively support their children’s learning do not permit them to visit public libraries in the area to use the computer facilities for blogging or reading as they are viewed in a negative light.
On returning to Ruapotaka in February 2017, the Room 10 2016 control group was reduced further to 10: three students had moved to other schools and two students remained on holiday in Week 2 2017. Three of these five students were active bloggers on the Summer Learning Journey but were not available for reading assessments.
Of the students assessed in February 2017, Student A’s reading level increased by six months between November 2016 and February 2017. He was an active participant in the Summer Learning Journey and engaged with digital texts at home online throughout the summer. He made accelerated gains in reading between November 2015 and November 2016 and these were extended to a reading age of 10.5-11.5 during the 2017 summer holiday.
Student B’s whānau values reading and there is a collection of books to read at home. Student B read these “a couple of times a week” during the holidays but had no access to the internet or a digital device, nor was he allowed to go to the library. Student B reads above his chronological age and maintained his reading age of 11-12 from November 2016 to February 2017.
Three students read books occasionally over the summer, either at home or at the library, and the reading age of all three declined by six months between November 2016 and February 2017.
Two further students did no reading at all over the summer holiday and it was determined that their reading age dropped by 12 months between November 2016 and February 2017.
To conclude, all students who engaged with reading over the summer, whether in digital or book form, whether they maintained their reading age or experienced some summer drop-off, were curious and self-motivated learners who enjoy reading, whatever their reading ability. Significantly, those who were summer readers all received some level of support or positive encouragement from whānau.