The Reading Camp is essentially a reading group. In the Reading Camp activity, students from grades 1 to 3 are grouped according to their initial reading ability. This grouping is organized and scheduled by teachers and school principals, including the assessment and the evaluation of the assessment results.

Information about students’ initial reading abilities is determined through a formative test provided by INOVASI. The test can be tailored by the teachers to follow the development progress of the students’ abilities. The formative test measures the students’ ability to read the alphabet, syllables, words, simple sentences, as well as their overall comprehension. The five stages of this test are the basis for grouping the students. Each group is assisted by one or more teachers, depending on the number of students in the group.

The Reading Camp is held three times a week and lasts throughout the day, especially for groups for reading the alphabet, syllables, and words. Marlince U. Deta, who was a grade 2A teacher at the time Reading Camp was implemented, received the mandate to assist the word reading group. At the beginning of the activity, this group consisted of seven students from grades 2 and 3. In this group, Marlin, as she is more commonly known, used word cards to help students compose sentences. 

In the second semester of 2019, Marlin was entrusted with teaching grade 1 students after she had been teaching grade 2 students for about two years. When she started, she found that all of her grade 1 students were still in the alphabet reading group. “This of course is natural, since they just enrolled as new students,” said Marlin. In addition to being mentored by the teacher who assisted the group for reading the alphabet, grade 1 students were tutored directly by Marlin outside of the Reading Camp schedule. This additional mentoring was done by Marlin for a few minutes almost every day.

Marlin divided her students into three small groups so that learning would be more focused. She also made time for students, who tended to be slow at learning, inviting those students to practice through games, such as quickly guessing letters of the alphabet. Marlin would randomly place a number of letters on the table. Then she would ask two or three students to compete by pointing to the letters she called out.

The school principal, Ningsih, believes that the Reading Camp, with various mentoring strategies that the teachers utilize, if done consistently, can overcome the problem of the students’ low reading ability. Marlin agrees; she reported that there were students who had progressed to reading syllables and words, stating, “There are only 11 people in the alphabet (group),” referring to the assessment results in November 2019.

According to Marlin, reading the alphabet is much more challenging than reading words because students lack knowledge or have never even learned about the alphabet before. Many students find it difficult to distinguish the letters that have similar shapes, such as b, d, and p.