CIMAHI, WEST JAVA – Reni Damayanti SH, a Grade II teacher at SDN Sosial 1 Cimahi, has been using leveled reading books to teach students to read for the last two months. She became interested in using the books—which were donated by USAID—after seeing her colleague, Dwi Setioningsih, demonstrating their use with her Grade 1 students. Reni had not yet received training from USAID PRIORITAS, but through mentoring from a local facilitator, Dewi Cahyanti, SSi, who came to her school, she learned how to improve her students' reading abilities and increase their interest in reading.
Reni invited six students to participate in a guided reading activity. This was a regularly scheduled activity that was already being held three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The duration was about 20-30 minutes per day.
At the third meeting, Reni was using a leveled reading book entitled "Vegetables". The students had been asked to bring vegetables to class like the ones in the book. "These vegetables were to make learning more concrete and attract the attention of students," said Dewi who was helping the class.
At the beginning of the lesson, Reni asked the students to guess the title of the book, which most guessed correctly. "Activities where students are asked to guess or predict things train them to have the confidence to communicate their thoughts in their own words," added Dewi.
Before opening the second page, the teacher asked the students to take out the vegetables they had brought. There were carrots, broccoli, eggplants, and other vegetables like the ones in the story book. Then the teacher guided students as they took it in turns to read the book.
On each page of the book, on the left hand side, there was one sentence consisting of a few words with a full-page picture that went with that sentence. For example, on the second page it said: "Look at this tomato!” The teacher covered up the word tomato, and the students were asked to guess what the word was. They did this correctly because they recognized the picture on the page.
After reading, the students were asked to touch the vegetables and describe them. "It is orange. Its shape is long. When you eat it, it tastes sweet," said one student describing the carrot she was holding. And so on until the reading activity was completed.
Then the teacher put up a flannel board so the students could learn words using the letter cards. "What are the letters that spell carrot? Try to organize them," said the teacher. A student tried to spell out the word 'carrot' (or 'wortel' in Indonesian language) using the letter cards. It turned out he had got it wrong by mixing up two letters. One of his classmates was asked by the teacher to help fix it.
Towards the end of the lesson, the teacher handed out pieces of paper that described the vegetables that had been read about and that had been brought by the students. To test their understanding, the teacher gave a vegetable to one of her students who then picked out the piece of paper with that vegetable's description on it.
According to Dewi, the students' reading ability have developed significantly after learning to read using leveled books. "In my class, there are two students who were previously not able to read and write well. After four months of regular support, they are now able to read and write summaries of what they have read," she said proudly. (Anw)