March 2 is known to school-age students throughout the country as “Read Across America,” a day intended to put books into the hands of children and to honor the late Theodor Seuss Geisel, an American writer and cartoonist who authored children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.
In Colusa County, March 2 is now known for something else: The official launch of “And Literacy For All,” a countywide English and Spanish early literacy initiative that uses modern computer technology to teach young children to read in two languages.
The downloadable program Footsteps2Brilliance gives young students access to electronic books, educational games, creative writing activities, and vocabulary words – using smartphones, tablets and computers, said Colusa County Superintendent of Schools Mike West.
“It’s a very cool program,” West said. “It’s powerful.”
At an Early Learning Literacy Summit on Thursday at the Education Village in Williams, West challenged the children in Colusa County to read 1 million words by June 15, using the program.
Although it’s a pretty big challenge to take on, West said Colusa County families can download and begin using the app for free.
Footsteps2Brilliance, which has received five of the most coveted awards in the educational technology industry, is a pre-Kindergarten through third-grade curriculum that contains over 1,000 books, songs, and learning activities.
The program is geared to help native Spanish speakers learn English, and at the same time teaches English speakers Spanish, using a game-based methodology to engage both the parent and child, West said.
Many students have been using the program since it was introduced to the schools last May.
In Maxwell, students have read 4,524 books, with a 70 percent reading comprehension rate, West said. Williams Elementary students have read 12,972 books with 76 percent reading comprehension rate.
“I’ve read a lot of books and they are all really interesting,” said Joselyne Ruiz, 8, of Williams, who loves the program. “I read a book about the sky and it had all kinds of interesting facts.”
The event was well attended by public officials and educators, many like Supervisor John Loudon, Colusa Unified trustee Melissa Yerxa-Ortiz, Woodland Community College President Michael White, and County Library Director Stacy Costello, who have, among many others, been named Colusa County Ambassadors of Literacy by the Office of Education.
The “And Literacy For All,” initiative was created as a countywide project to promote bilingual reading and writing skills to all Colusa County children utilizing mobile technology.
Eugene Narcisco, Footsteps2Brilliance co-founder, said the program is meant to narrow the gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers, while building vocabulary and increasing learning ability in both socioeconomic groups.
Initial funding for Literacy For All was provided from a $5 million bilingual early learning literacy equity service grant.
“Our primary goal is to have all children reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade,” West said.
Families can download the app at www.myf2b/.com/register/colusa. More information is available at www.andliteracyforall.net.