The first three years of schooling are a very critical time to learn the basics of reading. Many experts agree that getting the right books into the hands of children is important. The English III class at Atlantic High School worked to ensure that each Washington Elementary first-grader would have a special book to read this semester.
Washington Elementary and Atlantic High School teamed up for an engaging project that required juniors enrolled in English III to write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book for a specific first grader.
Juniors were finishing their short story unit and had to demonstrate mastery of the following skills: plot structure, characterization, point-of-view, dialogue, and setting. Rather than take a test, they were required to show their learning through the production of personalized children’s books. To make the project meaningful, each junior’s reading buddy would get to keep their book and bring it home.
First-grade teachers distributed interest-inventories created by English III to each of their students. This was to ensure that each junior could write a book that would engage their reading buddy. The juniors had a lot of fun reading through the interest inventories and getting to know their buddies. Common requests for book topics were football, dance, farming, and police officers.
The juniors spent a week working on the project. Once their storylines were approved, they began constructing and illustrating their books. Some juniors, like Kennedy Goergen, created engaging pop-up books for several first-graders, while other juniors opted to use online programs such as Storyboard. Bella Peterson went above and beyond to produce a stunning hand-drawn book titled, “Tana Saves the Day.”
The 91 first-graders were bussed to the high school during its Academic Opportunity time. Juniors found their buddies and spread throughout the commons to read their books. After they completed reading, the high school cafeteria distributed cookies and juice for everyone.
Overall, the activity was a great success. Junior, Haylie Handel said, “I really liked that we got to interact with people outside of the classroom and got to use our creativity.” First-grader, Shelby Hansen wrote her junior reading buddy, Tessa Grooms, a thank you card. It said, “You are the best high schooler ever. I loved my book.”
This activity would not have been possible without the help and support of ACSD instructional coaches, Missy Goergen and Amber Moore. Both worked very hard to ensure state standards were met throughout the project. Goergen also organized the interest inventories and transportation.
It takes quality collaboration to accomplish meaningful connections between district buildings. The Atlantic Community School District is fortunate to have great instructional coaches and staff who help bridge these gaps and provide its students with such opportunities.