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'I Put Seeds in Them:' VA Teacher Connects Students to Reading Across the USA


CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Keisha Yearby is a Virginia elementary school teacher and avid reader who wants to share that passion. So, when the school day is done, she takes her students and many others on an adventure from behind the screen of her laptop.

In a culture where many believe social media takes away from the interaction, Yearby sees the positive.

She uses Facebook to connect her students and kids she doesn't even know to read, a skill and pathway often ignored in favor of video games and cell phones.

"It's so important for them to be reading because reading is going to open up any door, every door," explained Yearby, who teaches second grade at B.M. Williams Primary School in Chesapeake.

Each Tuesday evening she powers up her laptop, logs onto Facebook and reads bedtime stories to kids, covering pictures in the books to get students to focus on the words instead.

"I teach them not just to read the book, oh I'm just reading the words," she said. "No, but to visualize. To connect, to really get inside of that and it will allow you to experience so much more."

Students from across the country are tuning in for the lessons.
"I have students watching it, from my students, to children as far as California who are chiming in," said Yearby.  I've had people tell me that they have their child that's 2-years-old all the way up to 6th graders watching."

Many of her own students are becoming better at reading and beyond.

"As a result of watching, better test-taking skills, more understanding of the book, being able to visualize," said Yearby. "I have a struggling student in my class right now, and even from having him visualize when reading, even in math, when I tell him to visualize, trying to figure out like a math equation, he will literally close his eyes and start to make the picture."

Parents are also learning.

"I've had parents say that they're so thankful. I had another parent to say I didn't know some of the questions I needed to ask my child. I had another parent to say I didn't realize how important it was for students to look at the pictures," she said.

In the end, Ms. Yearby hopes her motivation to read will help kids, not only in the classroom but also in life.

"I put the seeds in them," she explained. "I say each of you has something great on the inside of you. Something that you were born to share with the world and if you don't give it to us, we're going to miss out."

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