This week, I had the opportunity of working with a terrific group of teachers and administrators in Syracuse, NY (the Emerald City). This is one of those school districts that did a great job with Reading First. They were only funded to put the program in some of their schools, but they recognized its importance and adopted it district-wide anyway. And it has made a real difference there. Kids are reading better than in the past (though like a lot of urban districts the problem is so big that they still have a long way to go to get literacy levels to where they need to be).
I was there to provide workshops for upper grade teachers in reading comprehension, oral reading fluency, and vocabulary instruction. Reading First stops at third grade, and reading issues in Syracuse go all the way through high school. It is pleasing to work with a district that used the Reading First money properly (not buying furniture, etc.), and that ended up with much better reading achievement than before. While I was there, I watched one of their teachers presenting a workshop on vocabulary. I can see why they succeeded!
If you are interested in the powerpoints that I used in Syracuse, here they are: