An East Oakland Odyssey
Exploring the Love of Reading in a Small School
Elena Aguilar, ASCEND. Oakland, CA

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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. 


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