Just Another Side Project – A New Reading Program

As one of my million side projects in life, I am working on creating a new school ‘home‘ reading program. I have no idea how I somehow managed to get myself mixed up in the middle of this project, but regardless I am! (This seems to be a continuing theme in my life.)

Question: Do you also find yourself constantly with a million side projects? 

Question: Are side projects a teacher thing, or just a general people thing? My teacher world is so melded with my personal world, that in general I can’t separate the two!

When I was asked to spearhead the new program I started to think about my purpose. What did I want this new program to accomplish.
My conclusion was:
  • I would like to see every child in our school move forward in a positive way in terms of Literacy and Reading. I want to see kids interested in engaging with text!
  • I would love to start a domino effect in our school where the kids themselves slowly build momentum off of one another and become excited about reading. It has to be authentic excitement coming from straight from them.
  • I am hopeful that we can change the energy in our school and guide the students towards intrinsically wanting to participate in our program.
  • From a student perspective, it will seem as if everyone is excited and participating, which will naturally drive “everyone” to actually participate. Students themselves will fuel the program through their excitement and before we know it all kids will at least secretly want to be a part of it.
It is better to try and fail than to never have tried at all! (Right?) 
“A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.” -Crazy Horse
I have the vision let’s see where it takes us!

Originally the idea was to create something for our school that is similar to “Battle of the Books.” We looked into a few programs and had some concerns. We wanted to make sure we had the power to control and alter any aspects that didn’t meet our individual needs, so decided that signing up with an ‘official’ program just wasn’t for us.

In turn, we have created, and I have spearheaded, a new program that is a melding of the best programs that I could find! (These kids are going to be SO excited about reading!)

Without giving away too much information, here is an overview of our new program in the form of an excerpt I wrote for the Amelia Earhart Elementary 2016-2017 Student/Parent Handbook!

 

This year the High Flyers Reading Program is embarking on a new ‘flight’ path. Every student will pilot his or her own reading progression by participation in the ‘Earhart Society of Literary Scholars.’ Throughout this school year students, from 1st through 6th grades, will receive an invitation to a literary buffet of chosen books. Specific books are assigned to grade levels 1st – 3rd and 4th – 6th. 

Students will have opportunities to engage as insightful guests guide them through this new ‘flight path’ of reading material. The chosen guests may tell the background of a story or why the characters are heroes. They may even invite students to solve the main theme of the books. Do not think the reading fun stops here!

The students invited to each month’s meeting of the ‘Earhart Society of Literary Scholars’ will have reserved, in the school’s library, a brand-new copy of that month’s chosen book . . . just for them. They will be known as the ‘First Readers’ – forging new flight patterns for other readers to follow! Buckle your seat belts! Read on. 

It is important that throughout the year students read every book on their list in preparation for the Challenges. During the year, two Challenges will be held between grade levels. Challenges are a chance for students to show off their comprehension skills and schematic knowledge of each book. In case you think that the Challenges will just be plain old questions and answers: think again! There may be puzzles and sketching involved or even the writing of poems and plays! During each Challenge, the halls of Amelia Earhart will buzz with activity as runners fly to the office with their classes’ answers and/or projects. 

You see, the ‘Earhart Society of Literary Scholars’ aims to engage all students: students who are ‘learning to read’ and students who are ‘reading to learn.’ The Amelia Earhart faculty and staff, on behalf of the ‘Earhart Society of Literary Scholars’, invite you to ‘Fly High’ with your student this year.

Here goes nothing!
I truly believe the ‘Earhart Society of Literary Scholars’ will find success in the coming year. I am sure we will adapt and alter things as needed. But hopefully, the program will provide a strong foundation for the children to spread their wings and soar!
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