IUPUI Undergrad is Helping Students Across the U.S. to Improve their Reading Comprehension Skills

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America Learns Recognizes IUPUI Freshman Annette Hilger for Her Service with America Reads*America Counts

America Learns announced today that Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis freshman Annette Hilger has been named December’s America Learns Network Superstar. Hilger earned this recognition by contributing an outstanding reading comprehension strategy to the America Learns Network community that helps elementary school students improve their reading comprehension skills.

Hilger, a freshman Pre-Physical Therapy/Exercise Science student at IUPUI, began serving as an “America Reads*America Counts” coach this past fall. As a coach, she works with students at an after school site several times a week to help them improve their reading and math skills. The America Reads*America Counts program is a part of IUPUI’s Office of Community Work-Study, which offers students a number of ways to earn financial aid by working for community-based organizations.

Hilger’s Strategy
College students serving as reading tutors for young students often struggle with truly engaging their students in the books they’re reading. Even when tutors take time to find books “at the right grade level” that are aligned with students’ interests, students aren’t always eager to read and comprehend the texts.
Facing that situation, Hilger worked with her sister, a teacher herself, to create a strategy called “Reading Comprehension, Cereal Box Style.” The strategy leads students to create an entirely new breakfast cereal from scratch based on the story they just read.

While cereals that line the aisles of grocery stores contain common ingredients such as rice and corn, the cereals that Hilger’s students create contain ingredients such as “bravery” and “cliffhanger” -- ingredients based on characters’ traits and students’ thoughts about the plot.

Once students create their cereal recipes, they produce the cereal’s packaging as well. They may think through who they would sell the cereal to, such as a specific group of characters in the text, and then figure out how to design a product to appeal to what they know about that special “market segment.” Every aspect of the strategy is built around reinforcing and acting on students’ understanding of the book they just read.

Hilger’s supervisors rave about her. “She is a wonderful asset to the program as she clearly has a passion for teaching and working with kids,” said Morgan Studer, Coordinator, Office of Community Work Study. “At the end of each session, her students give her a huge hug and tell her they can’t wait until she comes again, letting her know that she is making an impact. We are thankful for her dedication to the program and her creativity when working with students.”

“We’re so excited to share Annette’s energy and creativity with all of the organizations and individuals receiving our e-newsletter and reading our blog today,” said Gary Kosman, CEO, America Learns. “We love that each aspect of the strategy truly reinforces and drives students’ understanding of the book they’re working with. We also love how Annette’s strategy can be used as a media literacy and marketing lesson, giving students an opportunity to think about the ways that companies market food items and then meshing those lessons with their understanding of the story they read to create a new product.”

Hilger’s strategy may be accessed at the America Learns Network Superstars blog, http://superstars.americalearns.net.

About IUPUI’s America Reads*America Counts Program
Housed in IUPUI’s Office of Community Work-Study, The America Reads and America Counts Programs serve young people in nearby urban communities by providing one-on-one reading or math coaching to help students improve their skills in these areas. Each America Reads and Counts coach is responsible for providing weekly in-person tutoring assistance to students from Kindergarten to Ninth grade. As an educational tutor and a role model to children, each coach strives to consistently demonstrate IUPUI’s commitment to civic engagement. Learn more at http://www.csl.iupui.edu/cws.

About America Learns, LLC (America Learns):
Los Angeles-based America Learns is the premier performance measurement and learning firm in the tutoring, mentoring, and youth leadership development arenas. Organizations using the Network include universities, AmeriCorps programs, community-based nonprofits, after-school programs, charter school management organizations, state government agencies, and public school districts. The company also creates and publishes award-winning learning resources for children that are steeped in relevant research and practice. Learn more at http://www.americalearns.net or by calling 310-689-0542.

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