Inside a Learning Community: Building a Community of Readers

This 30 minute video presents snapshots of Laura Ecken’s second/third grade class at Hazelwood Elementary, a high poverty school in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the same class that is documented in Learning to Trust . Three aspects of Laura’s reading program (home reading, daily class meetings for sharing home reading experiences, and daily individualized classroom reading) are shown at the beginning of the school year and again in October, March, and April. While the main focus of the activities is the improvement of students’ reading skills it becomes clear that learning to read and building a community are mutually reinforcing activities.

Many of the common core standards in English language arts and literacy are integrated and demonstrated in this overview of key aspects of Laura’s a reading program: for example, the students have access to and read “a wide range of materials on a variety of topics and genres” and they “have daily opportunities to read texts of their choice on their own during and outside of the school day.” (Coleman & Pimental, p.4)The teacher’s role as reading coach and the students’ growing knowledge from and joy in reading are also illustrated.

Part 1. August, Introduction of Three Aspects of the Reading Program Laura introduces to the students book boxes, a way of keeping books organized and leveled for daily individualized reading, home reading, and a new kind of class meeting to be focused on students’ voluntary reports of their home reading. We see some students struggle with reading, their resistance to Laura’s demand that they read at home, Laura’s insistence on home reading and the surprisingly quick acceptance by the reluctant students.

Part 2. October, Progress and an Adjustment We see that students are reading more fluently and their pleasure in home reading begins to be evident. An unsuccessful solution is introduced to the problem of disappearing books and a successful refinement of that solution is negotiated.

Part 3. March, Student’s Share their Home Reading Experiences Many students enthusiastically share their reading experiences from the night before. A variety of genres have been selected by the students, fiction, biography, poetry, and expository text. Some students report on the involvement of family members with their reading.

Part 4. April, Students Individually Read from Book Boxes In this final segment we see student’s joyfully and fluently reading a variety of texts individually chosen from their book boxes and Laura’s ongoing individualized guidance. The growth in the students’ reading skills is clearly evident.


  • Directed by: Peter Schwartz

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