Coordinator: Jane Rockwell
UW-Eau Claire, Centennial Hall 3210
The primary goal of this program is to increase the chances that a child will enjoy reading by providing opportunities to read with a volunteer partner. The partner provides various kinds of reading experiences, helping the child build background knowledge, increasing comprehension of what is being read, and fostering joy and a feeling of success in reading. A secondary goal of the program is to help a child see that reading is a process to be enjoyed and that it is something that you do for yourself, not just something that takes place at school under more formal conditions.
Volunteers (usually from the university pool of students) are matched and provided with a brief orientation from the Reading Partnership Coordinator, an Eau Claire Area School District employee housed on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Once matched, the reading partners usually meet in the home of the student, although some may be asked to meet in the school setting. The volunteer brings a variety of literature to these meetings (often checked out from the Reading Partnership Program's Student Resource Center) and the partners take turns reading the material.
Who is referred?
Children (from Title I designated schools in the Eau Claire Area School District) are usually referred to the program for one of two reasons. The first reason would be that the child is falling behind the average reading level for most students in his/her grade level. This situation affects the student's coursework in all subject areas. The second reason that a child might be referred is because the student is learning English as a second language and needs to have some one-to-one practice using English outside the school setting. Additionally, some children are placed in the program with the hope that he or she will develop a greater interest in reading!
Why are university students used as volunteers?
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are required to document 30 hours of service learning over the course of their time at UW-Eau Claire. This program can fulfill that need. There are also several courses in the Education Studies Department that require time spent working with elementary students and this can also serve that purpose. In addition, majors from the foreign language department and minors in the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programs can obtain extra practice in their fields of study.
Additional events and activities:
Throughout the school calendar year, special large group events are held for children in the program, as well as their families. Each child's reading partner is also encouraged to attend. These events have fun literacy activities to participate in, and every child attending chooses free books to take home so that they can build their own personal libraries.