MANITOU SPRINGS, CO — If you get a chance to be part of the fun as we did in Christi Marquardt's 4th-grade classroom, you'll quickly learn that "D.E.A.R" stands for "Drop Everything and Read."
"D.E.A.R. is one of those ways that everybody gets to choose a just right for me book and you always have one available," Marquardt said.
You'll also learn some days, like the day we were in Marquardt's classroom, you get to dress up as your favorite book character.
"I’m wearing the overalls from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," said student Addy McIntosh.
Student Julian Medina showed us his D.E.A.R. book.
"I've never really read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince before so this is my first book, but this is very interesting," Medina said.
They're just some of the ways Marquardt has worked to help her students become passionate about reading.
"I'm a dealer, and I need to get them addicted to reading," Marquardt said.
But Marquardt knows she's up against some challenges. At the start of the pandemic, she had about 8% of her students two years behind in reading. That number more than quadrupled by the end of 2022.
"We know there’s no way we can catch up," Marquardt said.
Instead, she sticks with a three-step formula to help students her students succeed:
1. Assess and assist
2. Teach, model, and inspire
3. Get students addicted to reading
Part of that success includes acceptance.
"What we see now is we want them to be comfortable with them two years behind because that’s normal," Marquardt said. "We talk about it together, because it’s them."
She also recognizes the pandemic exposed her students to trauma.
"We all went through trauma," she said. "There was no one exempt. Realizing the angst parents are going through, the trauma kids have gone through, also lots of passing of grandparents."
Now that her students are all back in the classroom, Marquardt takes advantage of the time together in person all while recognizing that the quiet time to read is making the love of reading a reality for her students.
"It is zen time," she said. "It’s like meditation."
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