Middle school teacher finds key to making reading fun


Most teachers have found that getting their students interested in reading is no easy task. But one teacher in Queens Village, N. Y., has found an innovative way to keep students in her sixth-grade class focused and entertained while improving their reading skills.

Bertha Cuascut, a literacy coach at The Jean Nuzzi School, a public middle school, agreed to take part in a pilot program called Read-A-Movie. The program was created by SFK Media Specially for Kids Corp. and is part of the company's suite of courses that aim to improve reading-readiness and skills.

The program revolves around SFK Media's Reading Movies, which combine reading with entertaining movies in a technique the company says can help teach vocabulary and improve comprehension.

The movies use Action Captions, a patented technology that displays the dialogue on the screen as text, in real-time, without interrupting the flow of the movie. Researchers and educators indicate that these Action Captions activate the cognitive elements of the brain so that the development of both reading and spoken language skills takes place naturally.

"My students had no problem recalling the facts and explaining concepts and details," Cuascut said. "On tests, projects and other work, students exhibited greater comprehension, improved vocabulary and an increased hunger to learn more."

The movies are available in such classics as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Tales of Gulliver's Travels" and "The Trojan Horse," and come as interactive DVDs that include vocabulary practice, quizzes and other activities.

Cuascut said her students seemed to be able to identify with the child actors in the films, which she said further sparked their interest and held their attention.

"It struck me that even those students who normally would be fidgety and distracting others were instead paying close attention to what was going on in the movie," she said.