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Well, I sit here trying to figure out what to write about engagement. I have never used a curriculum or program for literacy that has captivated every 5th grader the way the CIA approach does. Whenever you use any other curriculum or program you really skim the surface of text. You might focus on a particular skill for week or two and then move on. The CIA approach embeds it all into one approach. Students actively seek to uncover the mysteries of the books naturally. I have four children of my own, and currently one of them is almost two. He works hard everyday to understand the world around him. As he explores and experiments with his own little world, he finds the answers he seeks all by his own drive and intuition. What I absolutely love about the CIA approach is that the drive to uncover the mysteries of the world is now used to uncover the mysteries in books. I see this again re-emerge in my classroom. Students beg me to read each day when they walk in my classroom. (Our literacy block is at the end of the day.)

In a day and age where we must compete with TV and video games we have to find a way to get our students to dive into literature. Before CIA my students would barely sit and listen to a read aloud for 10-15 minutes. Now I can’t believe that they would sit for more than hour during a read-in at the end of a book. At the beginning of the year I told my students that they would read 9 books with me using the CIA approach throughout the year. Their jaws dropped and hit the floor. We are now through 4 books, and they can’t believe how fast we have gotten through them. They are also shocked as to how well they know and understand all aspects of each book. My students often connect back to the books that we have read. I hear them comparing Jonathan (the main character in Earthquake Terror) and Stanley (the main character in Holes). They talk about how each character began at the beginning of the book and how they changed throughout the story. I am amazed at the connections that they make.

Our speech teacher likes to take the things we are doing in our classrooms to work on their speech with them. She often has them talk about the book. My students who are in speech struggle with reading comprehension. The speech teacher is amazed at how well these students know and understand all aspects of the books we are reading in class. So, whether or not I believe that this is reaching my students I now have definitive proof that while their reading comprehension is lagging behind, their listening comprehension is charging forward.


Written by Heidi Finley --- 5th Grade Teacher