An East Oakland Odyssey
Exploring the Love of Reading in a Small School
Elena Aguilar, ASCEND. Oakland, CA
The foundation for this website comes from three years of research on student attitudes towards reading. This research was conducted between 2001—2004, at ASCEND, a new small, autonomous K-8 school in Oakland, CA. During these years I taught history and language arts to the same group of students who started in 2001 in the 6th grade. I was their humanities teacher until they graduated from our school in the 8th grade, affording me a rare and wonderful opportunity to follow student growth and development over three years.
At the beginning of 6th grade, many of my students hated reading. I became obsessed with changing their attitudes. Very soon after I started teaching this group, I began to do formal inquiry in my classroom. I was guided by an expert teacher and researcher, Liz Simons, from the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES). I can no longer imagine teaching without using inquiry as I feel the process is responsible for the success I have had in my classroom.
Some of the results of this three year study are reported on in the article featured on this website, “An East Oakland Odyssey: Exploring the Love of Reading in a Small School.” To supplement this article, I have compiled documents, photos, video, and other writings to further describe my research and the practices that I discovered were most effective in changing student attitudes.
My objective for this site is to present a literacy program which centers around the enjoyment of reading, and to demonstrate the necessity for teachers to do inquiry in their classroom.
I welcome any feedback.