Posted at: 09/04/2013 5:46 PM
Updated at: 09/04/2013 6:34 PM
By: Dan Conradt

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Hawthorne Creating "Passion For Reading"

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's the educational foundation for everything they'll ever learn.

And in Albert Lea reading isn't just a lesson ... it's a lifestyle.

“We try to develop a passion for reading," said Hawthorne Elementary School principal Karen Zwolenski.

And teachers have learned that there are two keys for doing that:

"Read, read, read and pick your own books," said Hawthorne elementary school second grade teacher Pam Lizotte.

And that's the foundation of a new reading curriculum at Albert Lea's Hawthorne elementary.

"The new program is a very clear-cut program with ten units, three weeks each unit," principal Karen Zwolenski told us.

And it’s the first 30 days that set it all in motion.

“A 30 day calendar of building routines and teaching the kids how you want them to be as readers" second grade teacher Pam Lizotte explained.  “We do what's called a read aloud, and the read-aloud is actually an instructional tool that we use as a kind of mini-lesson. I'm reading the story, but I'm teaching the kids about making connections, making predictions. After 30 days they should be independent readers."

“This just models the behaviors of how we select books and how we stay engaged in books," principal Karen Zwolenski added.

“And once they have that they can do their own independent reading while I'm doing the small group instruction," teacher Pam Lizotte said.

It's a change from the days when every student would read the same book ... often books that were beyond their ability, or failed to hold their interest.

"Kids pick their own books from hundreds of books in our classroom libraries, and with those books they develop a passion for reading because they're reading something that's important to them," Hawthorne second grade teacher Pam Lizotte told us.

“And that's how we get kids hooked," principal Karen Zwolenski added.