Are We Having Fun Yet?

A Fight For Our Below Level Readers

Alison Levine
5 min readJun 22, 2022


My friends gave me these books. One, a conscientious parent, the other, a once-upon-a-time elementary school teacher. The books inspired an idea.

Each week, on my outside bulletin board, I will display a paragraph, sprinkled with a few missing letters, and ask the question, What do you think the title of the book could be?

The following week, I will display the answer (the title) and hang up a new paragraph.

I am very excited about this.

An interactive bulletin board with a focus on main idea and phonics — just what administration ordered.

My last week of work. I received an email from my principal asking me to join him and our two assistant principals to discuss the language arts special, the class I will be teaching during the 2022–2023 school year.

Third grade reading scores were back. It showed that many of our students are not proficient readers. I wasn’t surprised. I worked with second graders and substituted in other grade levels. I knew.

After reviewing the data, administration concluded that next year’s language arts special needed to focus on main idea and phonics.

I listened.

I was ready to start reading and thinking and brainstorming ideas to make this thirty minute special meaningful. I will see each class, kindergarten through grade five, for three consecutive days, and then they will move onto their next special — PE, Art, Music or Media until it is time to return to me.

I will only see each student about thirty-six times out of the one hundred eighty day school year. I want the students to be excited to come to me and I want to be excited to be there. I will make that happen.

My thoughts.

The three days would be one lesson.

Day one. A mini lesson, an introduction, different ideas for different grade levels. Day two. Students will write and read and think and share and cross out and discuss and….I will listen and support and conference and share and think and… Day three. A final product — portfolio worthy.

Research, experience, and gut instinct told me that many of these kids are not getting read aloud to at home. That they are not surrounded by reading and writing outside of school. That they are…



Alison Levine

Mom. Educator. This year I provide academic support to our second grade team. I talk about teaching with kindness and authenticity.