The Literacy Lab

by on September 9, 2012

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One of the most underrated life moments is when you learn how to read. Even though it’s more of a progression than a single point in time, I remember (almost) exactly where I was when I became a reader. My family was headed to Florida on an Amtrak train (we thought it would be fun, and it was… kind of), and I had a Super Mario comic book. Somewhere in North or South Carolina I went from stumbling through it to reading it. From that point on I was a reader and I had the ability to educate myself. Teaching kids not only to read but to love reading is one of the most important things that we as a society can do, which is why I love non-profits like The Literacy Lab. They don’t appear to be very big, but the Washington, DC based organization is aiming “to provide high-quality, individualized reading remediation to low-income students in order to increase their literacy skills, leading to increased academic success and greater opportunities in life.”

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The Literacy Lab has a three-pronged approach to working with students. They start with “direct instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness.” This is about going back to basics and making sure that students have the building blocks for improving literacy. The next step is “repeated fluency practice,” which is focused on reading aloud and tracking performance to show progress. The final step is “teaching strategies for comprehension,” and it’s about showing students how to think when they read. Reading phonetically is a pretty mechanical process, but actually being able to understand something when you don’t know what all of the words mean takes a certain mindset. All of this is great, but it’s only going to work with students who are engaged by the content that they’re reading. That’s why The Literacy Lab’s tutors “integrate usage of materials such as articles, comics, poems, and songs based on the individual interests of the student along with the other curricular materials.” The organization must be doing something right because they just landed the “21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.” If you’d like to be a part of what The Literacy Lab is doing, take a look at their internships on Idealist. Right now they’re looking for an unpaid Development Intern.

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