First-graders at Odenton Elementary School are finding that reading is fun and are learning at a more rapid pace thanks to the innovations of first-grade teacher Doris Manzo and reading teacher Lee Laque.

Teachers are always looking for ways to help students who have difficulty remembering sight vocabulary. Research done at the University of Maryland indicates that the use of signing by teachers can help students retain sight vocabulary.

Robert M. Wilson conducted the study with 10 first-grade teachers. Each teacher taught sight vocabulary to small groups of students who were having difficulty with it. The students with the lowest retention scores made the greatest gains when sign instruction was incorporated into the program.

When Manzo and Laque heard of this approach, they invited Wilson to speak to their first-grade class. Wilson showed the children a video of Little Red Riding Hood being told by signand the children were amazed.

"The children look at signing as kind of a code," Laque explains.

Manzo, a 20-year veteran at OdentonElementary, didn't know sign language when the program began, so sheconsiders this a learning experience for her, too. She says she is only "one day ahead of her class, and before long they will be ahead" of the teachers.

Adding signing to a reading class not only gives the children something fun and different to do but also helps them relate different words to different movements. They have increased their reading speed, increased vocabulary and have better retention.

Manzo has noticed that once a child learns a word they don't sign it anymore, which proves they are not using signing as a crutch but as anaid.

Manzo and Lee are confident that every student will progressat a much faster rate and with a lot less difficulty.


The Greater Odenton Improvement Association will have a general membership meeting at 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday at the Odenton Fire Hall on Route175.

Representatives from the State Railroad Administration and the State Highway Administration will provide an update on the renovations at the Odenton train station, the status of the new train station site and the status of Route 32 improvements.

In case of bad weather next Wednesday, news about the meeting can be obtained by calling 923-6442, 674-3171 or 674-8215.


The West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor an open forum to address problems faced by small-business owners.

Beginning March 28, the Small Business Forum will be conducted the last Thursday of every month from 5 to6 p.m. at the Golden Flame Restaurant at 1210 Annapolis Road.

During the first half-hour, a selected topic will be discussed; the remaining time will be devoted to questions or problems that come up.

Chamber members are encouraged to submit topics and questions to the forum. Forum organizers would also like to hear your solutions to theproblems you have faced in your business.

A survey form can be obtained from the chamber office and should be returned by Friday. For more information, contact the chamber at 672-3422.


On Nov. 29, students in the advanced math classes at MacArthur Middle School participated in the American Junior High Math Exam. This was a nationwide contest sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The school's top scorer was eighth-grader Jennifer Canales, who received a winner's pin. Achievement Award pins were given to second-place finisher Cordelia Sperry, Grade 8, and eighth-graders Amy Rutkowski and Brian McIlhargie, and seventh-grader Michael Carpenter, who tied for third place.

The top three students in each participating section were awarded a gold, silver and bronze certificate.


The O'Malley Senior Center will sponsor a talk and slide presentation to help celebrate Black History Month. Philip L. Brown, a retired educator, will discuss the development of education for African-Americans in the county. Brown is the author of "A Century of Separate But Equal Education in AnneArundel County."

The presentation will be at 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 22. For more information, call the center at 222-6227 or 621-9515.


USA Today will be selecting 20 outstanding high school students nationwide to be awarded a $2,500 scholarship. The winners also will be honored in a May edition of the newspaper.

Grades, test scores, honors and extracurricular activities will all be important factors in the selection; the key criterion, however, will be a student's outstanding academic or intellectual product. Judges will be looking for a published writing, a music composition, a scientific experiment, poetry, a play or historical research.

Nominations must be postmarked by March 8. For more information, contact Arundel High School, 674-6500.


A free course for parents of handicapped children will be offered from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays, Feb. 25 through March 25, at the Staff Development Center at Carver.

The course, titled "Mastering the Special Education Maze," will help parents become moreeffective advocates for their children during educational planning by teaching them how to present their unique information about their children's learning strengths and needs.

The course also provides detailed information about the special education process.

For more information, call Nancy Andrews, 721-7128.

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