Lake Havasu Unified School District #1

Lake Havasu High School Read 180 student and teacher honored by Scholastic Corporation

Mary Ann Thompson is the Read 180 teacher at Lake Havasu High School, and she has been so impressed with the progress her students have made that she nominated five of them for the 2008 Scholastic Read 180 All-Star Awards by submitting materials detailing how those students stood out for doing a 180 degree turn around in their reading abilities.

The national winners were announced by Scholastic on April 7, and LHHS student Sara was named a National Read 180 All-Star. Only three high school students in the country received this honor for 2008. Sara wins a cash prize from Scholastic, and her school wins $1000 worth of Read 180 materials. Sara, Mrs. Thompson, and the other nominated students from LHHS are pictured to the right. They will all be recognized by the Lake Havasu Unified School District Governing Board at its May 13 meeting.

Update added 5/6/08- Scholastic has selected Mary Ann Thompson as the Arizona Read 180 Teacher of the Year. While Mrs. Thompson gives credit to many for her success, Lake Havasu Unified Superintendent Gail Malay knows a good program can still fail without a good teacher. Malay nominated Thompson for the Teacher of the Year honor, saying, "When you have a teacher like Mary Ann you know this extraordinary individual should be recognized."

 Read 180 has inspired my students and me to be lifelong learners.
–Mary Ann Thompson
Thompson says she is grateful for the support of the other district Read 180 teachers (Joni Hall at the Round Table, D'arcy Babcock at Daytona Middle School, and Margaret Nyberg at Thunderbolt Middle School). She says it is a collaborative effort. She is also grateful for the help and support she receives from teacher aids Roxann Handford, Patricia Peterson, and Chandler Dalby. Thompson also thanks the district's tech support staff, particularly High School computer tech Richard Davis, network manager Joe Brown, Round Table and Thunderbolt computer tech Susan Schendel, and Daytona computer tech Peter Medley. Computers play an important part in the program and the tech staff keeps them running.

Mrs. Thompson will receive a trophy, and her school will receive an additional $1000 worth of Read 180 materials. (End of update)

What is Read 180?

Read 180 is a special reading intervention program developed by Scholastic Corporation. Scholastic is self-described as "the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and children's media." The Read 180 program has been in use at Lake Havasu High School and the Round Table (our district's alternative high school program) for two years, and is so successful, it was expanded to our middle schools during the 2007–08 school year. Read 180 materials were purchased using Indian Gaming money the State makes available for instructional improvement in schools.

Mari Jo Mulligan is the administrator of Round Table, and she is also the district's Read 180 coordinator. She says the district originally purchased the Read 180 program to help struggling readers at the high school level. Reading problems can go undiagnosed, with poor readers being misidentified as lazy or disciplinary problems when they are really frustrated over their own inability to read grade appropriate material. Better diagnostic tools and better programs like Read 180 are helping the district to identify and help students who struggle with reading, writing, and vocabulary issues at all grade levels. In fact, as students are helped at lower grade levels, Mrs. Mulligan hopes that programs like Read 180 will be needed less often at higher grade levels.

Mulligan is very happy with Read 180. She describes it as a highly effective reading intervention program designed specifically for teenagers. She says, "we have seen its success." She explains the district is already having to replace some of the reading materials used in the program because the students are literally wearing them out. She says that for a teacher, having students who may have never voluntarily read a book before now wearing out their reading material is not a bad problem to have.

Lake Havasu Unified has four full-time Read 180 teachers. There is one each at Lake Havasu High School, Round Table, and Thunderbolt and Daytona Middle Schools. High School Read 180 teacher Mary Ann Thompson teaches three 90-minute sessions a day, each containing 14–18 students. Thompson has a lot of stuff packed into her classroom. There is a central area with desks in rows like your traditional classroom, an area with computers for students using the Read 180 software, an area with large tables for group work, and an area with a comfortable looking couch and several easy chairs were students do independent reading. (The couch and chairs were donated by the local Michael Allen furniture store.) Thompson explains that Read 180 teachers receive special training in the program because it has a very specific format and method of delivery. She says instructors are told that, "If you break the model, you break the results." If you don't deliver it the correct way, it won't work.

Students in a Read 180 classroom must receive 90 minutes of special instruction each day. Each 90 minute session starts with 20 minutes of whole group direct instruction. This is comparable to the traditional classroom model of a teacher up front talking to a large group of students sitting at desks. Next, the students break up into three different groups. Some go to the computers to use the Read 180 software, some go to the tables for small group instruction and more face time with the teacher, and some go to the comfortable furniture to do independent reading. Every 20 minutes, the groups rotate until each student has gone through each of the three small group rotations. Finally, there is a 10 minute whole group wrap up session. There is a large poster on the wall of Thompson's classroom to remind everyone how this works.

Students are usually in the Read 180 Program for one school year, although a few may leave sooner or stay longer depending on their needs and progress.

For their independent reading time, students get to pick from a selection of Read 180 approved titles. Teacher Thompson says the titles include some books also used in Lake Havasu High English classes, such as Night, by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel. (Night is not just for young readers. It was selected for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.) Students in the Read 180 Program are expected to read at least 12 books a year.

We had a chance to talk with some students in a Read 180 class. They each named a book they had or were reading for the program, including Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, and The House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. When asked what they liked about the Read 180 program students said:

  • small groups
  • no pressure
  • computers
  • You can get up and move rather than have to sit in one spot for an entire class
  • More interesting and varied than normal classroom presentations.

Mrs. Thompson has a long list of features that make the program successful, including:

  • Based on latest research.
  • Students receive constant feedback.
  • High interest reading materials in fiction and non-fiction.
  • Concepts presented in multiple ways.
  • Skills transfer to other classes.

A workbook used in the program contains lessons with real world applications like learning how to look for information in a textbook and reading a newspaper. Students may listen to a recorded reading of some materials to hear how something is supposed to sound, or they may record themselves reading so they can listen and evaluate their own reading skills. They may watch an exciting video to stimulate interest before being given related material to read.

Read 180 seems to be about using a variety of techniques and exciting materials to teach reading, writing, and vocabulary skills in a way that helps you transfer them to real life. Mrs. Mulligan commented that students are updated on their lexile score (a measure of reading ability and text difficulty that helps students pick appropriate reading material), and they are proud and excited as their score goes up. Mrs. Thompson says the program can change your life. It is definitely making a difference for our students.

Related Links
Read 180 (Opens in a new window.)


Read 180 National All-Star winner Sara.
Scholastic Read 180 National All-Star Sara.

Read 180 teacher Mary Ann  Thompson and student Raeann.
Lake Havasu High School Read 180 teacher Mary Ann Thompson (on the right) and All-Star nominated student Raeann.

All-Star nominated student Nick.
All-Star nominated student Nick.

All-Star moninated student Tyler.
All-Star nominated student Tyler.

All-Star nominated student Ulises.
All-Star Nominated student Ulises.