Lesson in literacy hits home

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By Tris DeRoma

Parents, teachers, and of course the young students had a fun time Thursday night “raising the roof” for literacy at Chamisa Elementary.


 The school staff, dressed in construction garb including hard hats, and performed skits promoting literacy, and parents and their kids worked on crafts along with a “blueprint” for literacy in the home. The goal was that by the end of the evening, each parent and their child would have a well-built “house” of literacy. 

The “Raise the Roof” theme is geared toward pre-k through third graders. The program was recommended by the New Mexico Department of education as way to help parents be more effective when it comes to helping their kids learn how to read. 

The event kicked off with the school’s fourth graders reciting the “Readers Rap,” a song that contained tips and pointers about reading. The fourth graders also wrote it themselves as well as taught the younger kids how to sing it. There was also a bit of choreography involved, as some kids from drama class got on their stomachs and did “the worm” dance.

Afterward, it was on to the entertainment, where the teachers performed skits about how parents could capitalize on what their kids learn in school. The skits featured one teacher being a robot while another skit featured a teacher “almost” getting sawed in half by a magician. 

At the beginning of the event, the “robot” read in a stilted, mechanical voice but after a few lessons, toward the end of the night the robot had a bigger vocabulary and was able to read aloud in an expressive, conversational tone, a goal the school wants for every third grader.

In spite of the fun educators were trying to instill in the event, serious business was going on, as after each skit parents were asked to write down on a poster they were given the lessons they learned and how they were going to apply them. Also on the poster, they were given a choice of activities they could do at home to promote reading and were asked to take these activities and fill them in on a map on the other side of the poster. 

There was pizza and dessert since the event since the event was taking place during the dinner hour,” Raise the Roof” also featured a book swap where books could be left or picked up on tables just outside the gym. 

Parents interviewed at the event said they loved every minute of it, and got a lot out of the program.

“Gosh we loved it, and we love this school,” said parent and dad Jamie Langenbrunner, who was attending with his son Caleb. “The teachers are awesome and they are so enthusiastic.”

Langenbrunner said he learned much from the event, and is comforted by the fact his son is getting much help when it come to reading. 

“We learned that the kids are helping each other to read,” he said. “For us, it’s been more effective than the parents actually helping.” 

He explained further, saying, “they have a healthy spirit of teamwork and competition at this school, and it transcends mom and dad. Mom and dad can help, but it’s more than mom and dad, because they see themselves in each other’s eyes.”

One important lesson another parent learned was about finding the right book for their child to read. “I liked the five ideas if a book is too hard, because I’m always wondering what would be a good book for my kids,” she said.

“Raise the Roof” is geared toward elementary schools and through the coming months, the district’s other elementary schools, Pinon, Aspen, Mountain and Barranca Mesa, will be having their own “Raise the Roof” event or something similar.

Piñon Elementary will be have its Raise the Roof event 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14. Though similar in parts, the event promises to be different and just as exciting according to the Pinon staff. Dinner will also be served.

Due to construction, Aspen Elementary will be having their event “Raise the Roof” event in February, on the 21st. Dinner will be served, but other details are tentative, since construction  is still in progress.

Mountain Elementary won’t be having “Raise the Roof,” opting instead for a “Literacy Night” April 25, to be held in conjunction with the school’s book fair. Dinner will be included.

Barranca Mesa Elementary has yet to announce any plans.