Six-year-old Colton Zajackowski sat at a table Wednesday, reading a book called "The Hungry Giant's Soup" to his teacher Theresa Matz.
Matz is a reading specialist with Merrill Area Public Schools who teaches struggling students with a tailored program called Reading Recovery. Colton concentrated hard as he read the book, about a surly giant looking for a meal. But the words came out of his mouth in a monotone, with pauses injected into sentences, such as "I want ... my ... soup." That indicated he knew the words but really wasn't getting the overall story.
The reading lesson occurred at the Wausau School District's Longfellow Administration Center, and in an adjacent room, watching intently through a one-way mirror, were more than a dozen other Reading Recovery teachers from the Merrill, Wausau, D.C. Everest and Arbor Vitae-Woodruff school districts. The lesson was part of a three-hour training session during which teachers watch, critique and learn strategies that can help young readers such as Colton catch up with their peers in terms of literacy skills.
Reading is the focus of a new education reform law, a bipartisan effort signed by Gov. Scott Walker on Monday at Franklin Elementary School in Wausau.