In an age where sports, outside activities and video games seem to win the day, students at Walnut Grove Elementary School are taking an active interest in reading. Throughout the school year, Carroll ISD faculty and students have embraced the district’s “Once Upon a Dragon” theme focusing on literacy and a life long love of learning.
Just before winter break, Donna Clarrissimeaux organized a book club for her fourth grade students.
“This is a great opportunity for students to experience new kinds of genres and discuss their thoughts with their fellow peers,” Clarrissimeaux said.
Each Thursday, students get together with their respective group to talk about what they’ve read. The ‘Question King’ or ‘Queen’ asks questions to begin the discussion. The students read approximately 50 pages per week. They also are required to journal during the week. The entries should discuss their thoughts about the book, but they are also encouraged to ask questions, study the characters, and predict what’s going to happen in the book.
“Journaling has helped me understand what’s going on in the book,” Kiera DiCesare said. “It makes me think more about what’s taking place with the characters.”
While the critical thinking is a bonus, for many of the students, the club is simply about their love of reading and having fun.
“I’m a big fan of reading, it’s one of my favorite things to do,” Regi Capati said. “I like studying the characters and figuring them out.”
Imaad Virani and Emma Schoof said they also like the back and forth discussions, but have their own favorite parts of the club.
“I like trying to figure out what certain passages mean and if I could put more deep thought into it,” Schoof said.
The students may not all infer the same ideas from what they’ve read, but one thing the students all agree on is that Mrs. Clarrissimeaux makes reading exciting.
“Mrs. Clarrissimeaux makes reading so much fun” Matthew Murday said. “She even did a headstand one day to get us thinking!”
Carroll ISD’s academic theme for the 2012-13 school year “Once Upon a Dragon”, has prompted plenty of fun and unique literacy projects. Students at Carroll Senior High School also embraced the theme, coming up with a creative way to foster reading among all Dragons.
CSHS students in digital interactive media classes, under the direction of instructor, Sharolyn Overby, and librarian, Sarah Chase, recently produced posters as part of the Dragons Read program. The posters were created to encourage reading and to continue to highlight the role of books in our technological society.
The posters captured both student and adult role models reading their favorite books. The class utilized digital photography and editing to design the posters. Initially, the posters were hung in the classroom, but will be exhibited throughout the school next fall.
Below is a photo slideshow of the posters and the students who made them.
Every school wants to foster a love of reading in its students, but how can one more reading activity fit into an already packed educational day? Old Union Elementary Principal Jon Fike and Assistant Principal Lisa Walker found the answer – a lunchtime book club. Students come in the office during their lunch period to eat and talk about the book they are reading.
“Book Clubs are an engaging way to interact with our students in a small, relaxed setting. We eat lunch, discuss books, and build relationships,” Walker said. “The time we spend facilitating discussion is meaningful and impacts more than just reading scores.”
The students who participate agree that the book club is an opportunity to engage with peers and explore a variety of literary work.
Fourth grader, Arky Mouser said, “The book club lets me express my feelings about the book to others.”
“Book clubs are great, because I get to be with my friends, be with Mrs. Walker, but still learn,” said third grader Ellen Aughenbaugh.
Mystery, adventure, historical fiction, and realistic fiction are some of the most popular choices among the students. For example, the third grade girl’s book club read Titanic by Gordan Korman while the fourth grade girls read Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn. Third grade boy’s book club read Infinity Ring by James Dashner while the fourth grade boys read Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret.
“Our book club is great because I get to read books that take me on an adventure,” said third grader McKenzie Cutler.
“The goal is to encourage students to love reading and share their thoughts about what they have read with their peers,” Fike said. “It’s a great way to promote literacy and show students that reading can be fun.”
Old Union Book Club Recommendations:
Old Union Elementary’s Lunch Book Club is just one of the unique learning opportunities created by Carroll ISD educators to foster a life long love of reading in students. Throughout the 2012-13 school year the district has embraced this year’s academic theme: “Once Upon a Dragon” which emphasizes literacy. Click here to read more “Once Upon a Dragon” stories from other Carroll ISD campuses.
The Carroll High School Student Council project “Once Upon a Dragon” earned top honors at the Texas Association of Student Councils (TASC) Annual Conference. The project was named a top ten project in the state.
TASC is the largest student council association in the world, and the ten projects recognized at its conference represented the projects with the greatest community impact that reached the largest number of people with the most significant results from across the State of Texas.
The effects of the project are evident just by walking down the hallways of Carroll High School. Rows and rows of books are lined up, stapled in the hallway, representing the enormous number of books the students have read. Over the course of the year, Carroll High School students have read over 3,000 books. One of the many reading activities the Student Council has lead was reading children’s books at the Goddard Preschool to draw kids into reading at an early age. The time spent reading has been shown to greatly increase vocabulary as well as writing skills which directly correlates to college entrance exam scores, such as the SAT and ACT. The primary goal of the project is to spark an interest in reading, so much that students will desire to read outside the confines of a classroom, which is something that has been declining over that past years. As a whole, Once Upon a Dragon… has completely changed the view on reading at Carroll High School.
“[Once Upon a Dragon…] has directly contributed to increased student reading on other works involved in the curriculum and is impacting our test scores as well,” said CHS teacher Shane Bybee.
While funding for student activities continues to be cut across the state, student council members with the volunteer assistance of their advisers raise the funds necessary to conduct projects and support their schools and communities.
“As student councils members across the state of Texas cross the stage to pick up their diplomas, more and more will be moving on to college and careers with a commitment to public service, civic participation, and the knowledge that they make a difference in their communities and their lives through service to others and participation in the democratic process,” said Terry Hamm, Director of Texas Association of Student Councils. “I am constantly amazed at the contributions made by high school student council members under the guidance of exceptional Student Council advisers. Congratulations to these councils and their students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their school, their communities, and their world. These students embody TASC’s dedication to student voice, student engagement, and student leadership.”
“I’m extremely proud of my students for putting their hearts into this project,” said Brandi Hunt, CHS Student Council advisor. “They worked hard on our reading initiative this year and I’m excited that they are being recognized for their dedication to the program.”
These young people develop proven skills in team building, problem solving, project planning, and decision making. Through their co-curricular activities, student council members serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.
“This project was really eye-opening to me because for some reason, I just stopped reading after 7th grade. This definitely has brought me back to reading,” said Joshua Choe, Student Council officer at Carroll High School.
The 2012-13 CHS officers are Joshua Choe, Harris Jensen, Paige Johnson, Allie Miller, Audrey Ohlhaber, Chandler Smith, and Summer Terry.
The librarian at Johnson Elementary School is always looking for unique ways to get students excited about reading and the art of storytelling. Margo Rudder, who also serves as the Library Coordinator for Carroll ISD, organized a visit from the Tipi Storytellers to come to the campus and visit with students. Their visit was funded by the JES PTO.
On a cold Tuesday morning, students huddled inside a 28-foot high tipi, set up on the Johnson Elementary School campus. Inside, the floor was covered with blankets and animal skins. Jaye McLaughlin is one of the groups founders, she told students about the lives of the Cherokee and played music. McLaughlin tours schools across the area, giving students a new perspective about Native American culture. A short video clip of the event is posted below.
The Tipi Storytellers’ visit to Johnson is part of the school’s efforts to introduce new children’s literature to the students as part of Johnson Elementary’s “school read” initiative where every student and staff member reads the same book. The entire school staff and families are invited to read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The school will be sharing their reading daily in the classrooms and over morning announcements.
This school year, Carroll ISD continues to focus education efforts on literacy and establishing a love of reading in every student through the district’s “Once Upon a Dragon” theme. Click here to visit the “Once Upon a Dragon” page located on the district’s official website.
Johnson Elementary recently kicked-off it’s “One Book, One School” reading program with the classic, Charlotte’s Web. In keeping with the district’s Once Upon a Dragon reading initiative, JES Principal Lori Allison wanted to create an opportunity for JES families to come together around a shared story. For some, this was the first time to read the book, for others it was a time to revisit a childhood favorite.
JES parent Kimberly Orosco said, “I vividly remember reading “Charlotte’s Web” as a child; in fact, my daughter and I read the story from my antique copy. She was fascinated to see how I wrote my name inside the book cover in elementary school.”
JES bus drivers, custodial and cafeteria staff also read the book. “One of our goals was for students to have conversations about Wilbur and Charlotte on the bus and in the café serving lines,” Allison said. “We provided them copies of Charlotte’s Web to share with their families.”
“It was great for the students to see the drivers reading their books and hear the children commenting on the story as they loaded the buses in the afternoon,” Allison said.
“Each week we designated specific pages for families to read,” Allison said. “During our morning announcements we had questions associated with the assigned reading.”
JES café manager and parent Ana Pereira thought the book was humorous and entertaining.
“The cafeteria ladies loved the book,” Pereira said. “Every morning we discussed the occurrences in each chapter and laughed at how comical Charlotte and the animals in the farm were.”
“My daughter and I spent about 20 minutes reading every day until we finished the book,” Pereira said. “We were shocked towards the end because we did not think that Charlotte’s life would end since she was a main character and helped Wilbur throughout the entire novel.”
Fourth grade student Toni Afolabi agreed that the book was entertaining. “Charlotte’s Web is a great story and a lot of fun to read,” Afolabi said. “Usually, I read by myself so this gave my mom and me time to read together again.”
After completing the book, students watched the movie and discussed the differences between the two.
“My friends and I really liked the story. A lot of us hadn’t read it,” Afolabi said. “We had fun talking about what was different in the movie and the book.”
Allison was thrilled by the participation and enthusiasm of the students, parents, and staff.
“I would highly recommend this type of reading program to other schools,” Orosco said. “It generated a lot of excitement at our house for reading – something schools are always striving for.”
“We are already planning do this again,” Allison said. “Our next book is The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks.”
Carroll ISD’s theme for the 2012-13 school year is “Once Upon a Dragon”. It is a fairy tale theme with an emphasis on reading. Throughout the school year, Carroll ISD will provide news stories, events and feature articles from inside and outside the classroom that incorporate this theme.
Today, we interviewed Margo Rudder, librarian at Johnson Elementary School. She is also the Johnson Elementary School campus Teacher of the Year for 2011.
Question: “What is your favorite book?”
Rudder: “As a librarian, asking me what is my favorite book is like asking a mother who her favorite child is. My feelings towards reading are best summed up by Harper Lee in her novel To Kill A Mockingbird. Scout says, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Like Scout, my passion for reading goes beyond love.”
Question: “What makes a particular book special?”
Rudder: “Books with characters that make me laugh out loud like Down Girl from On The Road or Jon Scieszka’s autobiography, Knucklehead are favorites. Books with characters that make my heart break, like Rue from the Hunger Games or Comfort from Each Little Bird That Sings are favorites. Books that compel me to turn the page to see what happens next like Surviving Antarctica and The Lightning Thief are favorites. Any time I get emotionally invested in a character, that book becomes a favorite. Each is special to me for a different reason.”
Question:“What are some of your favorite books from childhood?”
Rudder: “As a child I loved The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I often imagined myself in Narnia, talking to Mr. Tumnus, fighting alongside Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan. I wept when Aslan died on the stone table and rejoiced when he came back to defeat the White Witch. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Pinocchio were also read repeatedly. I still have a great fondness for marionettes. As an adult, there are many that fit the favorite criteria: Little Women, Wuthering Heights, Pillars of the Earth, The Stand, Game of Thrones, Seabiscuit, and The Book Thief, just to name a few.”
Question: “Is it possible for a librarian to have just one favorite book?”
Rudder: “One favorite book? Not possible. My dream is that before my students leave JES they will have a similar connection to reading that I did as a child, a connection that lets them access a book through their heart.”