Building the Confidence to Read Aloud

Building the Confidence to Read Aloud

For many children with learning challenges like dyslexia, who are one- to three grade levels behind in reading, the idea of sharing a book aloud is fraught with anxiety. Finding the courage to overcome the fear of reading can be a battle.

“I don’t like reading because I’m not good at it,” says fifth grader Kaleah.

But not on Shadow Day.

At Sitton School in North Portland, the kids in Mandee Bish’s classroom have picked out their favorite books to share with a new friend—a black and white poodle named Molly, who is there to listen to their reading.

Educators say that dogs make great reading partners because they can gently nudge students to keep going, or strategically place a paw to offer support and enhance focus. Dogs also have a calming effect that can reduce anxiety, and their quiet presence boosts confidence, courage … and reading comprehension.

Indeed, Molly quietly lays on her blanket and sets her chin on the kids’ legs, closing her eyes to the soft sound of the students’ reading. No matter that their words are sometimes halting. No matter that they miss some words or mix up letters. Molly patiently listens, and the kids finish their books and forget for a moment their struggles with reading.

“That was so fun!” says Kaleah. “I can’t wait to read again!”

Shadow Day is an annual event to honor Shadow, a dog born on Valentine’s Day, who is the inspiration behind the nonprofit Shadow Project. The Shadow Project arranged for Molly’s visit in collaboration with Columbia River Pet Partners to celebrate its 15th anniversary in Portland Public schools, and the fourth year in the district’s innovative, collaborative Read Together initiative, which is focused on literacy in underserved schools.

“Year after year, two-thirds of Oregon children with disabilities miss the critical benchmark of third grade reading proficiency that predicts high school graduation,” says Shadow Project Founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella. “If our community is truly committed to increasing graduation rates, we urgently need to address the overlooked one in eight children who learn differently. Providing students with learning disabilities access to the tools they need to achieve is critical.”

The Shadow Project began in two classrooms in Duniway School, becoming a 501(3) organization in 2003. Since then, Shadow has fostered success for more than 11,000 Portland children with learning challenges.

“I am so grateful to The Shadow Project for their vision and leadership in our schools,” says Bish. “They are integral to our program of serving students with more intensive learning and behavior support needs.”

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February Newsletter

In the February edition of our newsletter, find out about student reading contests, a Shadow employee award, and more:

  • Shadow Students Take Lead in Reading Contest
  • Shadow Employee Wins Ye? Ian Lima Award
  • Partnering with Schools for Inclusive Classrooms
  • Thank You for Supporting Our Children
  • Dine at McMenamins Feb. 28 for Shadow Kids

View the full newsletter.

Goal Setting for Courage

Goal Setting for Courage

A Duniway school value is courage, and seven-year-old Naomi has shown great strides this year, using The Shadow Project to set and achieve goals.

Sharing with the class, taking turns talking with a friend, reading out loud in front of a group, listening as others read, and raising your hand are all ways to show courage in second grade at Duniway.

Because Naomi has been identified as needing to work on her social skills, Learning Center Teacher Erica Warren and Classroom Teacher Julie Aquilizan use The Shadow Project’s innovative goal setting program to help Naomi set and achieve her goal of exhibiting courage.

With her eye on a bright pink squishy beanbag chair from the Shadow Store, Naomi steadily earned Shadow Bucks every time she completed a skill for her efforts on courage, as well as completing work in the Learning Center. It took her two months, but she persevered, saving $100 Shadow Bucks, for her special chair.

“It was so motivating,” said Erica. “We created concrete ways Naomi can be courageous and she’s exhibited many of those skills already. We are so proud of how hard she is working.”

The Shadow Project began in two Duniway classrooms. Now in its 15th year, Shadow has helped foster success for more than 11,000 children.

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Dine at McMenamins Feb. 28 for Shadow Kids

Dine at McMenamins Feb. 28 for Shadow Kids

Mark your calendars!

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28, the McMenamins at N.E. 15th & Broadway will donate 50% of all food and beverage sales to The Shadow Project.

McMenamins selected Shadow Project for its monthly Friends and Family night, which benefits local charities. Grab your friends and family and help us raise money for our children with learning challenges. All sales that evening qualify, whether you stay for a drink, order take-out, or come in a group.

McMenamins is open until 11 p.m., and we highly recommend the tater tots. Hope to see you there!

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Thank You for Supporting our Children

Thank You for Supporting our Children

Thanks to the generosity of our individual donors, we met our holiday fundraising goal of bringing more learning tools to students with challenges. A special shout out to our recent foundation and corporation donors, and year-end matching partner!

The Autzen Foundation * The Collins Foundation * H.W. Irwin and D.C.H. Irwin Foundation * James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation * Siletz Charitable Contribution Fund * OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation * RE/MAX Equity Group Foundation * Juan Young Trust * Arlene Schnitzer

See our list of generous donors here.

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