According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 32 million adults in the United States cannot read. DHS Teacher and reading lab instructor Kristina Bruton is eager to help high school students succeed. Reading Lab is a class at DHS where students use various skills for a better understanding of literature.
“Reading Lab is really a place to experiment with a whole bunch of different reading strategies, and we try and figure out of all different strategies what works best for each student,” said Bruton.
“In this class, we read, read articles, make inferences, and we make connections. It’s a fun class,” said Fr. Miraja Mestas, a student in Reading Lab.
Analyzing text is typically one of students’ least favorite things to do, but Reading Lab uses strategies called ‘signposts’ that help make understanding of text easier and clue the reader in on what is important. Signposts are words and phrases in the text that help a reader find connections and relationships between ideas.
“Signposts help me a lot when I don’t get something, they just help me understand more,” said Mestas.
“They make me think about [the reading] much more,” said Fr. Tanneigha O’John, who is also in the class.
“Some signposts leap out more to certain readers than other readers. Certain strategies work better for some readers than others. It’s really all about finding whatever strategy is going to help a reader to engage more with the text to understand it better and appreciate it,” said Bruton.
Reading Lab students find the best ways to understand reading. Some strategies will help a reader and some won’t. For example, some strategies can relate to connecting ideas, examples, graphic organizers, and more. Some students are visual thinkers, who often prefer to use graphic organizers and notes with color to highlight what is important.
Signposts help a reader know what to look for and to see the real meaning in a text.
“We really try and get kids to fall in love with reading again,” said Bruton.
The best way to love reading is to read what you want and find what you like.
“My 5th period goes down to the daycare center every Friday and we read books to little kids, and that is the highlight of the week,” said Bruton.
Another reading strategy for reading comprehension is reading aloud. Studies have shown that reading aloud or listening lets the brain remember and retain information more than reading silently. Reading aloud also helps the daycare kids with this.
“The youth librarian, from the Durango Public Library, was here. She made library cards for anyone in the class who didn’t already have a public library card, she gave book talks, and kids were able to check out really high-interest books that we don’t have copies of here in our school library,” said Bruton.
Having fun with reading makes it more enjoyable, which is what Reading Lab does.
“[The class] helps reading be more enjoyable, and I understand what I’m reading and what is happening,” said So. Wiley Corra, a student in the class.
Reading Lab has proved to be very helpful for students enrolled in it. They’ve been able to understand and comprehend more, which are both crucial skills in understanding and succeeding in society.
“It helps me with a better understanding and comprehension of what I’m reading,” said So. Tony Chavez, who took the class as a freshman.
“I would like for kids who take this class to leave feeling confident that they are good readers and I hope that they just again fall in love with books,” said Bruton.
Bruton’s main goal is to help students learn to appreciate reading and help increase comfort levels with reading and writing in general. Finding confidence in reading is a great feeling for the students, which is what Reading Lab is all about.